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Before the Niagara river plunges along the Canada–United States border to create the mesmerizing Niagara Falls, it cuts a 11 km long gorge through the hard dolomite rocks of the Niagara Escarpment. This gorge has been a popular scene for sightseers ever since Niagara welcomed its first tourists more than a hundred years ago. Back then, the gorge was home to another attraction—a narrow-gauge railroad running along the shoreline at the bottom of the gorge.

The Niagara Gorge Railroad was the dream of Civil War veteran Captain John M. Brinker, who was one of Buffalo's foremost citizens. It was Captain Brinker’s idea to build an electric rail road through the Niagara Gorge. His proposal was at first met with incredulity, but his earnestness compelled attention. It was, however, not an original idea. Prior to Captain Brinker, the Niagara Falls and Whirlpool Company made a half hearted attempt to construct a railroad within the Niagara gorge, but legal obstacles prevented the company from executing the plan. Some sources say that the Niagara Falls and Whirlpool Company went bankrupt soon after.

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Trolley car of the Niagara Gorge Railroad. Photo credit: Library of Congress

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