Lake levels threaten Old Fort Niagara

Posted at 11:34 PM, May 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-02 23:34:16-04

Old Fort Niagara was built to stop attacks from invaders on Lake Ontario. Turns out, it may be no match for the lake itself.
Very, very nervous, said Robert Emerson, the executive director of the historic site in Youngstown.  

Emerson says the banks of the park are eroding quickly. Multiple trees fell into the lake on Monday. Emerson hopes the park only loses trees. He says in his 20 years of working at Old Fort Niagara, he's never seen water levels rise over the lower sea wall.

If the water level rises above that lower seawall, then we're going to see significant damage to the upper sea wall that holds the French Castle up, said Emerson.


The French Castle is the oldest building in the Great Lakes Basin. It was built in 1726, before Independence Hall was constructed in Philadelphia. It also survived three wars.

Emerson is confident the state will help protect the park. He says they've come to their aid in the past.

It's 2017 and Old Fort Niagara isn't fending off a foreign foe; rather, a rising lake. And with water levels creeping higher and higher, Lake Ontario may be its greatest threat yet.