Maid of the mist…such a charming name, you might be forgiven for wondering why a mist has a maid. Maid of the mist is actually the name of a powerful diesel powered boat operating on the Niagara falls. This truly magnificent boat transports its passengers from the calm waters on either the American or Canadian side, through breathtaking views of the American and Canadian Horseshoe Falls with their powerful currents that cover the passengers with wonder, mist and spray.
Generations upon generation of people have had the pleasure of riding aboard the maid of the mist since its inception in 1846. The first maid of the mist made the cross through the violent, rock-strewn waters on 6th June 1861, with Joel B. Robinson, as its captain. It made its way through the whirlpool and the devil’s Hole rapids which gained the boat popularity and immense interest among the population. Unfortunately, a fire in 1955 destroyed the first maids of the mist (Maid of the mist I and maid of the mist II). They were then replaced by boats made of steel and powered by diesel engines. Maid of the mist is known as the first boat to venture closer to the Horseshoe Falls. The first boats to operate across the Niagara falls were the small rowboats, although they never ventured near the falls and mainly transported people between Canada and the United States.
Since its debut in 1846, the maid of the mist has been host to a number of important and famous people, including celebrities, leaders and royalties, and has transported them through the American and Canadian horseshoe fall, on the ride of their lives. As such, it has been dubbed as North America’s oldest tourist attraction.
A trip to the Niagara falls is not considered complete by most visitors without a trip aboard the maid of the mist. If you are scared of being covered with mist and spray through the journey, then you need not worry, as a recyclable poncho souvenir is provided to passengers to keep them dry.
Legend has it that one of the first occupants of the Niagara district, the Neuter Indian Nation, in seeking an end to a mysterious disease that was killing them, first sent out fruit the Thunder God Hinum, who was believed to reside behind the falls. When the fruits seemed to not work in appeasing the God, the tribe resorted to sacrificing the most beautiful Indian maiden on a yearly basis. When the sacrifices still did not work, the tribe sent out Lelawalo, who was the daughter of the Chief of the tribe. It is believed that she was caught in the arms of the God’s sons who consequently revealed to her that it was an angry snake that crossed to the Indians’ waters every year to poison them and feast on their bodies after burial. This snake was later killed by a group of Indian braves. It died at the edge of the falls, with its body shaped like a horseshoe and that is where it remained to this day, in order to protect the Indians against evil spirits.