New Home for the Maid: Rockfalls, Talus, and the Race for a Dry Dock

by Michael J. Mann, P.E., (M.ASCE), Principal; McMahon & Mann Consulting Engineers, Buffalo, NY, mmann@mmce.net,
John F. Hubert, P.E., Assistant Vice President; Parsons Brinckerhoff, Buffalo, NY, hubert@pbworld.com,
James J. Janora, (A.M.ASCE), Engineering Geologist; McMahon & Mann Consulting Engineers, Buffalo, NY, jjanora@mmce.net,


Serial Information: Geo-Strata —Geo Institute of ASCE, 2015, Vol. 19, Issue 5, Pg. 34-38,40,42


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: The Maid of the Mist Corporation (MOTMC) has operated the iconic Maid of the Mist boats beneath Niagara Falls since the early 1900s. Traditionally, the company has provided trips from the U.S. and Canadian sides of the Niagara River. For years, a dry dock located on the Canadian side served as the winter storage and maintenance facility for the Maid of the Mist boats. The boats must be stored at least 20 ft above the lower Niagara River to protect them from ice build-up at the base of the falls during the winter. The MOTMC had recently lost access to the Canadian side, requiring development of a new American dry dock facility. Buildable space at the base of the gorge is limited, and the site of the former Schoellkopf Electric Power Plant, approximately one-half mile downstream of Niagara Falls, was deemed a suitable location. However, that location, combined with the geology and site history, presented several geotechnical challenges that ultimately controlled the design and construction of the dry dock.

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