Hey flock! It’s summer, which means it’s time for some fun and sun at the beach.
…not exactly the opening sentence you thought you would read when you clicked on “The Crumbling Stone of Colonel Morrow”, is it? Of course, there’s always a bit of history tucked away behind the scenes. Who would’ve thought that a casual walk in the park would result in piecing together the life of a 22-year old that died in 1865?
Today, we’re heading over to Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown. If you think that we’re making a beeline for the old fort, you’re already on the wrong track. We’re going to the beach.
The beach along Lake Ontario at the State Park is one of my favorites. There’s always plenty of sea glass to collect, and on a clear day you can see to Toronto. You can also see this thing:
This very large stone wall bisects the beach. It’s common to see people climb on it, and is very well known to frequent patrons.
What immediately piqued my interest was this carving on the top of the stone:
For those of you having difficulty reading, the full inscription is “AB 1934 CWA COLONEL MORROW.”
Chasing after another name in stone. These explorations always start with some name carved in stone. Luckily, this name happens to be one of the most critical in the history of Fort Niagara as we know it today.
Fun fact: Old Fort Niagara’s address is 102 Morrow Plaza.
That’s not a coincidence.
There’s also a lovely marker telling us about Morrow Plaza (which you can read a transcript of here).
Colonel Charles Morrow was the man behind the restoration of Old Fort Niagara. From 1930-1935, he was in charge of both the active military installation (since Fort Niagara was still an army base) and the reconstruction of the historic fort.
Before that, the Colonel had a long resume of great achievements. Born in Somerset, Kentucky, Colonel Morrow spent time in many wars of the time period. He even earned the Army Distinguished Service Medal for his actions in the Siberian Intervention.
In 1935, Colonel Morrow was actually about to be sent to Baltimore in the middle of the restoration work, which led to protests from locals. Unfortunately, fate made the final decision. Colonel Morrow died on December 21, 1935. He is buried in Fort Niagara Cemetery.
Now that we understand who Colonel Morrow is, we can work to reveal the rest of the stone inscription. “AB 1934” is easy enough: the wall was completed around 1934. What about “CWA”?
We need look no further than your school’s Social Studies class for that answer. This was a New Deal project.
The Civil Works Administration was a New Deal program that ran from November of 1933 to July of 1934. The Fort Niagara restoration was also performed by the Works Progress Administration, which was the successor to the CWA.
However, the CWA (and General Morrow, for that matter) didn’t simply work to restore the historic fort. They also helped make much of the infrastructure for Youngstown. The CWA was mainly an infrastructure-based program, and was known for public buildings, roads, and even wastewater treatment.
If you look around the stone wall on the beach, it is clear that some form of wastewater is released here.
That’s right: this stone wall (which also has a manhole cover and tunnel in the ground above it) are part of a wastewater outlet built during the New Deal.
If you ever find yourself at Fort Niagara beach on a sunny summer day, go take a peek at Colonel Morrow’s not-so-hidden contribution to the New Deal.
Do you know of any interesting places I should explore in Niagara? Let me know in the comments!