Rising water levels in Lake Ontario take toll on Old Fort Niagara

YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y. (WIVB) — Rising water levels in Lake Ontario are a cause for concern across the coastline and officials in Youngstown are concerned that it could compromise the future of Old Fort Niagara.

“We were doing a routine inspection yesterday and we noticed that some trees were missing on the lake shore just east of the fort,” said Robert Emerson, Old Fort Niagara Executive Director.

A huge piece of ground collapsed into the lake following Monday’s storm.

“It must’ve happened just yesterday because one of the trees that washed into the lake still has buds on it so it’s fresh,” said Emerson.

Robert Emerson is the Executive Director of Old Fort Niagara. He says it’s not the first time a piece of ground has fallen into the lake.

“State put in a breakwater at that point and these huge boulders, and even those huge boulders are now pushed back by the force of the lake of the waves,” said Emerson.

Emerson says they’ve seen accelerated erosion for the past 2 years and higher lake levels have made it worse.

“The higher water levels are having a detrimental effect on those big rocks so our concern is that further east of here the fort has a sea wall and the sea wall essentially protects the french castle and 18th century buildings from falling into the lake,” said Emerson.

The history of the Old Fort Niagara spans more than 300 years. It was an important military post well into the 20th century. During colonial wars in North America it controlled access to the Great :akes and it was a training station during both World Wars.

Emerson says there’s been no damage to Old Fort Niagara as of now but he’s concerned that there could be in the future if the water levels continue to rise.

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