BOTANICAL EVALUATION OF THE GOAT ISLAND COMPLEX, NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK
H. STONE BRIDGE TO THE FIRST SISTER
The stone for certain of these bridges derived from various places, some from stone excavated for the nearby hydraulic canals, from stone fences removed, and some from the Goat Island sediments themselves: "many of the boulders brought here in the ice age ... have been collected ... and used in the construction of the handsome stone bridges that have been built on the Reservation, on the main shore opposite Goat Island" (Porter, 1900).
The bridge to the First Sister was designed by Calvert Vaux. Made of river-bed dolomite or limestone, it duplicates the substratum of the Three Sisters, and other old shorelines and riverbed substrates all along the Niagara River from Niagara Falls to Lewiston.
In 1898, when construction of the bridge to the First Sister was begun following plans drawn by Calvert Vaux, the structure was to appear "rustic," and it "has a dark gray coloring which harmonized with the surroundings .... Although at present rather massive in appearance, when partially overgrown with vines it will be an exceedingly picturesque and graceful object" (15 Ann Rep Comm, 1899). The bridge was made of stones "removed from the retaining wall at 4th Street in the city of Niagara Falls" (Scott & Scott, 1983) - of dolomite or limestone to duplicate the native rock exposures in the bed of the Niagara River and its gorge.
An intention was expressed in 1901 to replace the other two bridges to the Second and Third Sister Islands with similar stone arch bridges (17 Ann Rep Comm, 1901).
Perhaps indicative of times to come, when the masonry dam under the first bridge to Willow Island was destroyed by high water, a reinforced concrete dam replaced it (27 Ann Rep Comm, 1911).
The uneven surfaces of native-stone bridges promotes the establishment of mosses, lichens and other vegetation - a fact approved of by those with the intention to restore and protect the Reservation's natural richness. The bridge to the First Sister Island, for example, presently supports the following plants:
Cystopteris bulbifera BULBLET BLADDER FERN.
Parthenocissus vitacea VIRGINIA CREEPER.
* Poa compressa CANADA BLUE-GRASS and other grasses.
Viola sp. VIOLET. East side, stone bridge to First Sister Island.
The vivid red color of the Virginia Creeper complements the bright yellow autumn colors in the rock of the first bridge to the Three Sisters from growth of the lichens:
Caloplaca citrina. First Sister, bridge, on mortar, Harris 22863 (NY), and,
Caloplaca flavovirescens. Bridge to First Sister, Harris 22876 (NY).
In the textured surface of the "water-worn" rock the of the following mosses have become established:
Funaria hygrometrica. Chink in stone bridge, west side, Eckel, April 26, 1987 (BUF).
Grimmia alpicola var. alpicola. In depression, with lichens, Eckel, Sept. 29, 1988 (BUF).
Replanting trees and shrubs at the boundaries of the bridge to promote moist shade would encourage the establishment of lichen and moss species. Establishing spectacular native vines such as Climbing Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens - male and female plants are needed) is also possible.