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Niagara Frontier Region Facts

It would be hard to explain New York to someone without mentioning Niagara Falls. As the first state park in New York, the rushing water of the Niagara River connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. The massive number of tourists that visit help set the tone for travel in the Niagara Frontier Region.

With Buffalo as New York’s second largest city, the Erie County destination has easily earned itself a place in history. More recently, Buffalo has been getting the attention of travel writers far and wide for its food scene and culture.

If having Niagara Falls isn’t enough, this region also plays host to Letchworth State Park in Wyoming County. Known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, the park receives countless visitors each year for camping, hiking, festivals, and nature photography.

Further north in the region, the Erie Canal once dominated transportation routes. Towns like Medina, Albion, and cities like Lockport have all earned their place on the map because of the canal. Each of the counties feature its own set of characteristics from agricultural industries, innovative food scenes, heritage tourism, and more.

Niagara Frontier Region Defined

On Exploring Upstate, the Niagara Frontier Region includes a lot of what is often referred to as Western New York. For these facts, you’ll find information from Niagara, Erie, Orleans, Genesee, and Wyoming counties.

Erie County Facts

-The lit up floor that appears below John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever was designed by a company in Buffalo called Litelab. [source]

– On July 17, 1902 William Carrier of Angola, New York invented the modern air conditioning system. He got the idea while standing on a railroad platform in Pittsburgh and watching the steam pass by. From there, he realized he could dry the air by forcing it through water to create fog.

– On May 1, 1901 the Pan-American Exposition world’s fair opened in Buffalo and featured the first ever x-ray machine. During the expo, President William McKinley visited and was shot during an assassination attempt. Though the doctors had an x-ray machine at their disposal, they wouldn’t use it on the President to find the bullet because the side effects were still unknown.

– Millard Fillmore was the last President to NOT be affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican Party. He now rests in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo. [source]

– The very last stronghold of the Confederacy after the Civil War was a town in Erie County. Town Line, NY seceded from the Union during the war and even had residents who went to battle for the South. They didn’t technically re-enter the Union until 1946 after prodding from President Truman and a town vote. [source]

– The University of Buffalo is one of only two higher education institutions founded by a U.S. President. [source]

– Frances Folsom was born in Buffalo in 1864 to a close friend of then 27-year old Grover Cleveland. He took a particular liking to the child and doted on her with gifts right from the day she was born. Later, when Frances turned 21, she and sitting President Grover Cleveland would marry. The action made her the youngest First Lady, and the only First Lady to marry in the White House. Frances was also the only First Lady to preside over two non-consecutive administrations as her husband served two terms. [source]

– The first President to ride in an electric car was William McKinley in 1901. He was shot while attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo where the theme was electricity. The expo featured an electric powered ambulance, so it was used to carry him to safety. [source]

– The song “Are You From Dixie? (‘Cause I’m From Dixie Too)” was written by Jack Yellen, who was not from Dixie at all, but rather born in Poland and then at the age of 5, moved to Buffalo, New York with his family.

– On November 5, 2015, President Barack Obama signed into legislation a law naming the United States Post Office in Del City, Oklahoma. It was named for Bob Kalsu, the only active professional athlete to be killed while serving in the Vietnam War. Kalsu played for the Buffalo Bills in 1968 and was named Rookie of the Year. It was the only NFL season he ever played. [source]

– The Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo was the first museum in America to host an exhibit featuring photography as a fine art. The International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography opened on November 3, 1910 and ran through December 1. [source]

Genesee County Facts

– Supporters of William Morgan in Batavia are responsible for founding the Antimasonic Party, which was the third political party to exist in the United States. Morgan was prevented from joining the local Freemasons, and later threatened to publish a book with the organization’s secrets. He mysteriously disappeared in 1826 never to be seen again. The Antimasonic Party was an effort to prevent the local Masons in Batavia from gaining too much political power. [source]

Niagara County Facts

– On November 30, 2014 residents of Western New York reported a loud, earth-shaking ‘boom’. Residents in parts of England reported the exact same experience at the exact same time. [source]

– The Lockport Cave was used to film parts of the cult classic Sharknado 2. [source]

– At the site of Niagara Falls, the Niagara River spills 40 million gallons of water 180 feet downward each minute across a ragged ledge nearly 2/3 of a mile wide.

– The “cocktail” was first created in Lewiston by Catherine Hustler. During the war-torn year of 1813, American troops brought roosters and hens from a raid on British troops to her tavern. They asked Hustler to cook up the birds, and as she did, she placed feathers from the rooster’s tail in each of their drinks. From then on, Hustler’s Tavern would become synonymous with the “cocktail”. [source]

– The decking and stairs under Niagara Falls allows visitors to enter the popular ‘Cave of the Winds’ attraction. Because of ice and harsh winter weather from the river, the lumber has to be replaced every year. Crews dismantle the decks in the fall, and then replace it in the summer after waterproofing the wood. [source]

Orleans County Facts

– The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School is the oldest operating and highest respected of all the Santa Claus Universities. Though it later moved, Howard originally founded his school in Albion in 1937. [source]

– Charles Howard of Western New York, who founded the world’s oldest Santa Claus school, got his start as Santa in a store window in Albion. He worked at the Merrill & Son Furniture Store as a real life Santa making toys by hand in the front window for $15 a day. [source]

– Charles W. Howard of Albion, New York first portrayed Santa in the 4th grade during a school play. He later founded the oldest-continuously run Santa Claus school in the world. Later, Howard was the featured Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1948 through 1965. [source]

Wyoming County Facts

– As a child, 21st President Chester A. Arthur lived in the village of Perry for a few years. [source]

– Wyoming County is one of the most agriculturally active counties in the state. In 2017, the human population numbered 40,493, and they were outnumbered by the dairy cow population which added up to 47,500! [source]