Thursday, May 22, 2014

Done! Reached Canada and Niagara Falls (Day 40)

Okay, so technically this trip does not end until noon tomorrow, but I feel done as far as the riding goes. 

We had route options today. We could ride completely in the United States, or we could cross into Canada for a bunch of the riding (and a few extra miles). In both cases we would end up in Niagara Falls, New York, for the night. 

Even though I am tired and we've done a lot of miles this last week, I chose to do the Canadian route. It looked a lot more interesting than the route through New York, and it looked like it would have far less traffic. It seemed like something I should not miss. 

The day started out sunny, but quickly changed to overcast. Once again, there were great shore views of Lake Erie. 

When I got to Buffalo, I took a detour off the regular route to visit a couple of sites with UGRR significance. Below is the Michigan Street Baptist Church. 

In 1816, Buffalo had a population of 400. Sixteen of those residents were black, and nine of those were slaves. The congregation of the Michigan Street Baptist Church formed in 1836; the church building was completed in 1849. This building is the oldest building in Buffalo built and continuously owned and occupied by the city's black residents. I especially liked the building's windows, so I took this shot of the side as well. 

This is how the building looked in 1900:

The church's congregation openly and boldly participated in antislavery activities. Before the Civil War, escaping slaves were hidden in the basement until it was safe to help them escape to freedom in Canada. Apparently the areas in the basement where escaping slaves were concealed are still visible today. I wouldn't know; I did not get to go inside the church. 

Next to the church is a plaque honoring Mary Talbert (1866-1923):

Talbert graduated from Oberlin College, was an active member of the Michigan Street Baptist Church, and was an anti-lynching activist. Talbert was the sixth president of the National Association of Colored Women, inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame, and was the first African American woman to earn the prestigious NAACP Spingarn Award. 

Behind the Michigan Street Baptist Church is a walkway with benches and informational plaques that leads to the Nash House. 

This was the home of Reverend J. Edward Nash, his wife, and child. Nash's parents had been born as slaves. At the age of 24, Nash became the pastor of the Michigan Street Baptist Church and served as its pastor for 61 years (1892-1953). Nash and the church were actively involved with Civil Rights advocacy and action throughout their histories. 

The home is a treasure trove of Nash's personal writings and the family's furnishings and household items. 

While Talbert and Nash were not directly related to the UGRR, they were such key figures in improving the quality of life for African Americans in the decades following the Civil War, I thought I'd include mention of them. 

When I left the Nash House to make my way back on route, I noticed this building in the distance. It looks like it has two Statues of Liberty on its roof. 

Right after taking the picture above, dense fog rolled in. I was cycling on a bike path on the Buffalo side of the Niagara River, but the visibility wasn't great. 

Crossing the Peace Bridge to Canada with Tony...

The cycling on the Canada side was great! Interesting residential homes on the left, the Niagara River on the right. We made use of a handy picnic table to eat our lunch. 

The approach to Niagara Falls became ever more dramatic, starting with views of the rising mist. At this point, we were on a spectacular bike trail that closely follows the water and has its own bridges and boardwalks. 

Does anyone know what this is? We saw two of them. They're huge. Maybe they have something to do with power generation?

More shots approaching the falls...

There is a "stranded skow" out there. 

The "stranded skow" is also visible below. 

In the photo below, a huge tour boat full of people all dressed in blue and green mist ponchos, is sitting at the base of the falls. 

Below is the view of the falls from the Rainbow Bridge, crossing back into the United States. 

Today's route, part 1:

Part 2. The jog in my path at miles 37-38 is the Michigan Ave spur I took to the Michigan Street Baptist Church and Nash House. The jog after mile 42 was me getting turned around and then back on track. 

Part 3:

Tonight we are staying at the Wanderfalls Hostel in Niagara Falls, New York. We had our celebratory supper out:

[photo credit: Barb Ward]

Tomorrow we are free in the morning to explore the falls some more before we say our goodbyes and begin to scatter...

1 comment:

  1. Wow… congratulations! What an amazing accomplishment. It's also cool that you finished the trip in such a spectacular place. I hope the transition to auto travel isn't too much of a shock to your system ;-)