Muddy Run Creek

The Muddy Run Creek flowed from west to east through the heart of Niagara Falls, Ontario on route to a terminus at the whirlpool area of the Niagara Gorge. It followed a route that is today a residential street called Valley Way.

The creek originated from a large tract of marsh land located west of current Drummond Road and was bounded by an area of Lundy’s Lane on the south and the Queen Elizabeth Highway (QEW) on the west. This area was known as Cook’s Bog, a tract of land that was given by the Crown to United Empire Loyalist, Robert Cook. He had emigrated from New Jersey in 1781.

Muddy Run was a spring fed creek which overflowed its banks each spring often resulting in severe flooding. In summer, the creek was reduced to nothing more than a series of mud holes and ponds.

The bog’s source of water originated from many springs near the area of the Fourth Concession (Dorchester Road) in the area of the current QEW. It crossed mostly farm fields and pastures. Muddy Run Creek ended at the Niagara Gorge near the Whirlpool. In 1791, John Donaldson built a sawmill at the edge of the Niagara Gorge where the waters of the Muddy Run Creek plunged down to the waters of the Niagara River below. Using a waterwheel device, Donaldson harnessed the waters of the creek to power his mill. Where Muddy Run Creek crossed Portage Road and the Second Concession (Stanley Avenue), canneries were built along the banks of the creek to utilize its water source for their production purposes.

At Portage Road where Muddy Run Creek crossed, a narrow wooden foot bridge was built across this creek. During the battle of Lundy’s Lane on July 25th 1814 (War of 1812), this bridge became an obstacle for advancing British troops because men could only cross single-file.

Muddy Run Creek flowed eastward through open fields until it reached Victoria Avenue. A wooden bridge and boardwalk along the east side of Victoria Avenue crossed over the creek. Here Muddy Run Creek entered a series of culverts where its waters were passed under Queen Street. In doing so the creek actually passed under Clendening’s Planning Mill which was located on the corner of St. Lawrence Avenue at Queen Street.

Each spring, Muddy Run Creek would frequently overflow its banks and cause extensive flooding. On many occasions, the Victoria Avenue Bridge was flooded.

Muddy Run Creek provided many residents with a source of recreation. In winter, residents skated along the frozen creek and in summer, citizens went swimming in the ice collection ponds. Some of the best swimming holes were located in an area now known as Valley Way at Second Avenue.

Contrary to its name, Muddy Run Creek was a crystal clear stream. In winter, tons of clear ice was collected from it in specially build ponds along the banks of the creek. Some of the ponds were maintained by the Dixon’s & Parker’s on Stanley Street. The ice that was harvested was kept in sawdust in the old ice house located on the corner of McRae Street and Stanley Street.

Harmanus “Monty” Crysler a prominent hotelier who built the first Clifton House Hotel on Ferry Road (Clifton Hill) at Front Street (River Road) owned and operated one of the ice collection ponds. Mr. Crysler built an ice collection pond at a site behind land that was later developed into the A&P Grocery Store on Victoria Avenue. From here, Crysler would harvest ice for his guests staying at the Clifton House Hotel.

In 1865, when the railways came to the Village of Clifton and the Great Western Railroad Station was built on Bridge Street, a huge stone tunnel was built by John Drew to carry the waters of the Muddy Run Creek across the railroad property. The tunnel carried the creek waters under the train station and a nearby train roundhouse. The tunnel on occasion proved to be insufficient to handle the excess flow of water during the Spring time run-off.

On April 3rd 1896, the newspaper reported a severe flooding of the Muddy Run Creek at the train station on Bridge Street.

In January 1923, the old Victoria Avenue boardwalk was replaced with a modern concrete sidewalk.

Over the next 2-3 years, the waters of Muddy Run Creek were siphoned into a large trunk sewer for much of its length. The new trunk-line channeled the waters of the Muddy Run Creek to a site located along the Niagara Gorge just south of the current Great Gorge Adventure where it emptied harmlessly into the Niagara River.

In 1926-1927, Valley Way was designed and built following path of the Muddy Run Creek from Drummond Road to Queen Street. After being filled in and paved, Valley Way obliterated all traces of the former creek.

In 1946, construction began on the new A&P Grocery Store on lands located between Victoria Avenue and Valley Way (south of Morrison Street). Backfilling of this land destroyed all remains of the old ice collection ponds located here.

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