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History of the Niagara Belle
In 1970 a new river thrill was introduced to Niagara Falls. The Niagara Belle, an authentic Mississippi-style sternwheeler was built by Hike Metal Products in Wheatley, Ontario. The Belle's all steel construction included two dining decks and an open-air upper deck. The construction was tough enough for the replica stern-wheeler to winter in the ice-clogged Niagara River.
The Niagara Belle operated out of Kingsbridge Park in Chippawa, leasing the dock from the Niagara Parks Commission, and cruised the upper Niagara River, docking at the Treadway Inn in Niagara Falls, N.Y. partway through the trip.
In August of 1970, the boat ran aground on a rocky shoal near Navy Island, about 4 miles above the Horseshoe Falls. The engine compartment flooded, but no one was injured. The 160 passengers were ferried off by the U.S. Coast Guard and some private vessels. The ship was repaired on site.
A year later new owners acquired "the Belle". In 1972, she sailed west on Lake Erie and down the Welland Canal to Lake Ontario. Her new home was Toronto harbour where the vessel operated successf