Maid of the Mist

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Maid of the Mist

The Maid of the Mist is a boat tour of Niagara Falls, New York, USA. (The actual boats used are also named Maid of the Mist, followed by a different Roman numeral in each case.) The boat starts off at a calm part of the Niagara River, near the Rainbow Bridge, and takes its passengers past the American and Bridal Veil Falls, then into the dense mist of spray inside the curve of the Horseshoe Falls, also known as the Canadian Falls. The tour is available starting from the American side of the river, returning to the U.S. landing.

The operation is operated by Maid of the Mist Corp. of Niagara Falls, New York. Maid of the Mist has been owned by the Glynn family of Lewiston, New York, since 1971.

The same company used to also run tours from the Canadian side, but lost the contract to continue operations in 2013 to Hornblower Niagara Cruises.[1]


The first Maid of the Mist was launched in 1846 as a ferry service between the Canadian and American sides, pre-dating by two years the construction of the first Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge at the site. The ferry service lost business when the bridge opened, and by 1854 it had become a tourist attraction instead, served by a new and more luxurious boat.

The original Maid of the Mist was built at a landing near Niagara Falls on the American side of the border. The boat was christened in 1846, but interestingly, not for sightseeing. The two-stage barge-likesteamer was designed primarily as a link for a proposed ferry service between New York City and York (Toronto, Canada). It was a 72 foot long side-wheeler with an 18 foot beam which was powered by steam produced from a wood and coal fired boiler. It was designed to carry a stagecoach and four horses without unhitching the horses.

The ferry did well until 1848, when the opening of a suspension bridge between the United States and Canada cut into the ferry traffic. It was then that the owners decided to make the journey a sightseeing trip, plotting a journey closer to the Falls.

Economic conditions deteriorated in 1860 and adversely affected the tourist trade. With the prospect of the Civil War in the U.S., Maid of the Mist owner W.O. Buchanan decided to see the craft at auction. A Montreal firm agreed to purchase the boat, but on one condition: the boat had to be delivered to its new owner 12 miles downriver, through two treacherous rapids, into Lake Ontario for its true up the St. Lawrence River to Montreal.

On June 6, 1861, beginning at 3 p.m., Maid of theMist Captain Joel R. Robinson, engineer James Jones and mechanic James McIntyre left the moorings on the U.S. side of the river. Captain Robinson safely steered the little vessel downstream, under the suspension bridge, through route on the Canadian side of the rapids and whirlpool, past the lower raids at Foster's Flats and into the quiet waters of the lower Niagara River to Queenston. Miraculously, the journey was executed without mishap.

The present day Maid of the Mist Corporation was formed in 1884 by Captain R. F. Carter and Frank LaBlond, both residents of old Clifton (Niagara Falls, Canada) who invested in a new Maid that would launch on June 13, 1885.

Canadian operation ceases[edit]

After 167 years of operation, the final day for Maid of the Mist operations from the Canadian side was October 24, 2013. Niagara Cruises has since taken over services at the Canadian dock. The Glynn family continues Maid ff The Mist operations from the American (New York) side, and constructed a drydock and maintenance facility north of the Rainbow Bridge to handle operations.[1]


James V. Glynn is chairman and chief executive officer of Maid of the Mist Corp. Founded in 1846, the Maid of the Mist operates two, 600-passenger cruise boats in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and is one of the oldest tourist attractions in North America.

Glynn joined Maid of the Mist in 1950 as a ticket seller, and purchased the company in 1971. Under his leadership, Maid of the Mist expanded operations, achieving ten-fold growth.

Under Glynn’s leadership, the Maid of the Mist has provided Mt. St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, the financial resources to purchase passenger vans, operated by volunteers, and used to transport patients to-and-from physician appointments, diagnostic tests, rehab and more, allowing the hospital to serve dozens of people a day, saving them significant transportation costs. CARExpress, a similar service at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, is also funded by Glynn, providing a low-cost, door-to-door transportation service to ambulatory residents of Niagara Falls and Wheatfield. In 2013, CARExpress vans transported more than 5,000 residents to their appointments.

The Maid of the Mist also sponsors the Making a Difference – A Celebration of Catholic Education dinner for the Diocese of Buffalo, the Curé of Ars dinner for Christ the King Seminary, the Niagara University Vincentian Scholarship Program, the James V. & Mary Glynn Endowment Fund for the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, and supported the purchase of a bus and other updates for Niagara Catholic Junior Senior High School.


Maid of the Mist I

  • Years of service: 1846–54
  • Type: double-stack steamboat ferry
  • Engine: 1 sidewheel steam

A second Maid of the Mist I was built in 1854

  • Years of service: 1854–60
  • Length: 72 feet (22 m)
  • Type: single-stack steamer
  • Engine: paddle boat

While on his 1860 tour of Canada, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), rode on Maid of the Mist.[2] With business dwindling and the resulting financial pressures, the ships were sold. The impending American Civil War contributed to the issue[citation needed] and the final boat was sold to a Montreal firm in 1860. Service was not restored until 1895, when two new boats were constructed and launched under a new partnership, Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company.

Maid of the Mist I, published c. 1901
Stereoscopic view of Maid of the Mist II, c. 1896–1906

Maid of the Mist I, this one sailed closer to Horseshoe Falls than any had previously.

  • Years of service: 1885–1955
  • Type: steam boat
  • Engine: N/A

Maid of the Mist II

  • Years of service: 1892–1955
  • Type: white oak steam boat
  • Length: 89 feet (27 m)
  • Engine: 2 engine steam

These boats sailed the lower river until April 22, 1955, when they burned in a pre-season accident. Later that year, they were replaced by two new ships. The type and style of the boats is still seen today; they were made of steel and powered by diesel engines.

Maid of the Mist I

  • Years of service: 1955–90
  • Length: 66 feet (20 m)
  • Engine: 200 horsepower (150 kW) diesel engines
  • Passengers: 101

Maid of the Mist II

  • Years of service: 1956–83
  • Type: all-steel boat, twin of I
  • Engine: 200 horsepower (150 kW) diesel engines
  • Passengers: 101

Maid of the Mist is well known for her role in the 9 July 1960, rescue of Roger Woodward, a seven-year-old boy who became the first person to survive a plunge over the Horseshoe Falls with nothing but a life jacket. The boat involved in the rescue (Maid of the Mist II) was retired from service in 1983 and relocated to the Amazon River, where she served as a missionary ship for some years.[1]

Access to the river-level attraction on the Canadian side was provided by the Maid of the Mist Incline Railway, a funicular railway, between 1894 and 1990, to travel between street level and the boat dock.[3] As this service proved increasingly inadequate in transporting the growing passenger base of the 1990s, four high-speed elevators replaced the railway by the start of the 1991 tourist season. The same year, The Prince and Princess of Wales, and their two young sons, Princes William and Harry, rode on Maid of the Mist.[4] On the American side, the dock is reached by four elevators enclosed in the observation tower.[5]

Maid of the Mist boarding dock, 1976
View of Niagara Falls from Maid of the Mist
Tourists on Maid of the Mist wear blue raincoats to protect themselves from the spray.
Maid of Mist IV and Maid of Mist VII

More ships have been added to the fleet.

Maid of the Mist III

  • Years of service: 1972–97
  • Length: 65 feet (20 m)
  • Gross tonnage: 75[6]
  • Engine: single 250 horsepower (190 kW) diesel
  • Passengers: 210

Maid of the Mist IV

  • Years of service: 1976–2013
  • Length: 72 feet (22 m)
  • Gross tonnage: 75[7]
  • Engine: two 250 horsepower (190 kW) diesel
  • Passengers: 300

Maid of the Mist V

  • Years of service: 1983–2013
  • Length: 72 feet (22 m)
  • Gross tonnage: 74[8]
  • Engine: two 355 horsepower (265 kW) diesel
  • Passengers: 300

Maid of the Mist VI

  • Years of service: 1990–present
  • Length: 74 feet (23 m)
  • Breadth: 30 feet (9.1 m)
  • Depth: 10 feet (3.0 m)
  • Gross tonnage: 155[9]
  • Engine: two 355 horsepower (265 kW) diesel
  • Passengers: 600
  • Alexisonfire's 2009 "Young Cardinals" music video was shot on Maid of the Mist VI

Maid of the Mist VII

  • Years of service: 1997–present;
  • Length: 80 feet (24 m)
  • Breadth: 30 feet (9.1 m)
  • Depth: 10 feet (3.0 m)
  • Gross tonnage: 155[10]
  • Engine: two 350 horsepower (260 kW) diesel
  • Passengers: 600

Little Maid

  • A small tug-like vessel found at the docks on the Canadian side

A partial history of Maid of the Mist is featured in the IMAX film Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Spiteri, Ray (2013-10-13). "Maid of the Mist's last ride in Canada Thursday". Niagara Falls Review. Retrieved 2014-08-03. 
  2. ^ "Morden, James Cochenaur; Historic Niagara Falls; Lindsay Press; Niagara Falls; 1932". Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ "Famous Visitors". Niagara Parks. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  6. ^ Results for Vessel: Maid of the Mist III, United States Coast Guard Maritime Information eXchange (CGMIX)
  7. ^ Results for Vessel: Maid of the Mist IV, United States Coast Guard Maritime Information eXchange (CGMIX)
  8. ^ Results for Vessel: Maid of the Mist V, United States Coast Guard Maritime Information eXchange (CGMIX)
  9. ^ Results for Vessel: Maid of the Mist VI, United States Coast Guard Maritime Information eXchange (CGMIX)
  10. ^ Results for Vessel: Maid of the Mist VII, United States Coast Guard Maritime Information eXchange (CGMIX)
  11. ^ Niagara Falls Daredevils | IMAX Theater, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada[dead link]

External links[edit]