Old Stone Chimney Moved and Dedicated Seems a Little Crooked


An early 19th Century print of the Old Stone Chimney, executed nearly two centuries before it got crooked up.

There was a crooked mayor,

And he had a crooked town.

It had a crooked chimney and….


Oh, sorry. Just thinking to myself.

They moved the Old Stone Chimney from its spot at Porter Park downtown out to LaSalle off the former Robert Moses Parkway, much closer to where it was built in the first place, by the French soldier and Indian agent Daniel de Joncaire way back in 1750.

It was officially dedicated in its new location Monday, by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and others. The New York State Power Authority paid around $1.4 million to have the 60 ton, 31-foot tall piece of history moved.

“I am noticing it,” Rob Panepinto, the NYPA Cultural Resources Specialist said.  “Although I’m not sure if it’s crooked or a parallax effect.”

It’s definitely crooked. You just have to look at a picture of it before it was moved. There’s an iron fence around it now, benches, signage, a new road off the former Robert Moses and a parking lot big enough to hold 10 midsized cars.


The cannons that used to guard it at Porter Park are nowhere in evidence. When you look at it now, the first thing you notice – aside from the fact that the top is crooked – is that, across the mighty Niagara River behind it, the skyline of the bustling city of Niagara Falls, Ont., serves as the backdrop.

In case anyone was wondering who won the War of 1812.

When the project was begun in December, local history buffs questioned why a number of dumpsters at the Porter Park site appeared to be filled with rocks and cement that were indistinguishable from the chimney’s construction material. Panepinto said it was “fill rock” from the center of the chimney helped used to support it and that it had to be broken up to free the rest of the stones. Historically it was not significant, he said.

This was the third move for what is considered one of the oldest pieces of architecture existing in Western New York. The only structure that predates it is the French Castle at Fort Niagara, which was built in 1726.

The chimney was moved from its original location at the site of Joncaire’s Fort Petite Niagara – near Cayuga Island – in 1902 so that t
he Niagara Falls Power Co., precursor to NYPA, could expand its facilities. At that time, local historian Thomas Vincent Welsh penned a Tin Pan Alley song about it.

Long may the old stone chimney stand,


The Old Stone Chimney before it was moved. Nothing crooked about it.

Upon Niagara’s shore; 

The sons of France and Britain’s band, 

They battle there no more; 

The pioneers, and sweethearts dear, 

Are sleepin on the hill, 

Where the stone chimney stands, 

In the evening gray and still,” it went.

Like many novelty songs then and now, “The Old Stone Chimney” became a minor hit and Welsh, who happened to be a close personal friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, pulled strings and led the fight for the structure’s preservation.

It stayed there for 40 years. After Walsh’s death, Carborundum decided it needed to expand, and the chimney was moved to Porter Park, only to be undermined by the construction of the Robert Moses Parkway in 1962.

The historical treasure languished and deteriorated, falling into further disrepair with each passing year given that no governmental entity was prepared to take responsibility for maintaining it.

Interestingly, like Fort Niagara itself, the flags of France, Great Britain and the United States all once flew over the old chimney and the various forts and residences that employed it.

Fort Petite Niagara was burned by the French when they left the Niagara Frontier after losing the French and Indian war to the British, but the chimney survived the fire. The British, never ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, built Fort Schlosser around the chimney at the same location in 1760.

During the War of 1812, the Americans occupied the fort, but it was captured and again burned by the British and their Indian allies the following year.

After the war, the Porter family built a private residence at the location, again using the chimney. That structure was torn down when the chimney was first moved in 1902.

The secret to the Old Stone Chimney’s longevity seems to be its usefulness. One could build a house around it today and want only for firewood to make it through next winter.


NYPA spent $1.4 million to move the Old Stone Chimney to its new location at the “spoils pile” in Niagara Falls off the Niagara Scenic Parkway. It’s kind of crooked but, hey, this is Niagara Falls!

Mayor Dyster has recently built a $44 million train station that will undoubtedly be an unpleasant memory a century from now, while the Old Stone Chimney will remain standing proud, if a bit crooked.

“There are a whole lot of interesting things that have happened here in Niagara Falls and here in Western New York,” Dyster said. “The problem is we’ve had so much history that the latest wave of history tends to sweep aside all traces of the previous wave of history.”

State Assemblyman John Ceretto, who had as little to do with the chimney relocation project as Dyster, groped similarly for something to say.

“We need little pockets of areas where people can pull off, view our waterfront, the beautiful Niagara River and the rapids downriver, and we need it  in an area where you can talk about our history and people can pull off and see it,” he asserted. “This represents one of those things that makes a parkway scenic.”

Local historian Paul Gromosiak, who has long advocated for the preservation of the chimney, was wheeled out to deliver his remarks.

“We have so many things that have happened here that have not happened any place else on Earth,” he said. “We stand out, not just with the water going over the falls but with our history, the people that came here and what they did.”

The Old Stone Chimney stands today as a reminder of what was, a glorious past carved out by bold men from an unforgiving frontier.

The fact that it is now kind of crooked serves to remind us of our most recent history.


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