US Brig Niagara brings history to life at Canalside

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Many western New Yorkers were in awe as the U.S. Brig Niagara sailed into port at Canalside on Thursday.

The tall ship was led by Commander Oliver Perry and originally sailed in a pivotal battle in the War of 1812.

US Brig Niagara 4th Mate Sydnee Groenendaal said, “Niagara was the one that actually won the battle for Commander Petty. The Lawrence was pretty badly shot up and they transferred to the Niagara and there was wind shift, came through and within 15 minutes the battle was over.”

The Battle of Lake Erie was significant because it lifted the nation’s morale and secured territory lines.

“It really solidified borders. So America won back what they had lost. It decided control of the upper Great Lakes,” said Groenendaal.

A reproduction of the vessel sails around the Great Lakes. The Niagara is 198 feet long, has 15 sails, 180 lines of rope and a 32 pound carronade.

Thirty crew members and trainees live in the bottom quarters. It’s a bit tight because there’s about five and a half feet of headroom in select spaces. The ship also contains pieces of the original vessel.

“There are some nonstructural pieces in the hull and there are also some that are down below as ventilation, but that is not what they were originally used for,” said Groenendaal.

A replica of a battle flag saying “Don’t Give Up The Ship” is also on board.

The Niagara brings history to life and is open to the public from Friday to Monday.

“On the Great Lakes we’re pretty much the only wooden square rigger sailing on the Great Lakes. And with what we do we’re a sail training vessel we take people out and we teach them how to sail square riggers. So it’s pretty cool you can come down and check it out,” said Groenendaal.

Tours on the ship run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Sunday. On Monday you can go for a tour or sail on board with the crew from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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