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Old 04-10-2011, 04:21 PM
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Location: Rochester, NY, USA
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Is Terrapin Point (Goat Island, NY) in Canada?

After at least an hour of research, I'm still stymied by false positives in Google and a whole lot of nonspecific information.

I'm trying to figure out exactly where the border between the U.S. and Canada crosses the brink of the Horseshoe Falls -- if it does at all. Here's what I've been able to determine so far:
  • The International Boundary was established as the midpoint of the Niagara River; where islands existed, the IB was to follow the deepest channel. Thus, most of the islands (Luna, Goat, Grand, and the Three Sisters) are in the U.S. (Navy Island is in Canada).
  • At the time the IB was established, however, Terrapin Point was not part of Goat Island; it was "Terrapin Rocks", named for their resemblance to turtles. Part of the Horseshoe Falls went over the cliff between Goat Island and Terrapin Rocks.
  • I've seen it written that 10% of the Horseshoe Falls were in the U.S. at the time.
  • Eventually, the U.S. filled in the space between Goat Island and the Terrapin Rocks, forming Terrapin Point and cutting off the northernmost edge of the Horseshoe Falls. The International Boundary did not move as a result of this infill.
  • I've seen conflicting accounts of where the IB is in this area; one source says that 100% of the Horseshoe Falls are now in Canada, while others say the border is 100 feet south of Terrapin Point.
  • Topographic maps show a short boundary edge connecting the north-south portion north of the Horseshoe Falls with an east-west portion south of Goat Island; this short segment is at about a 45-degree angle northwest-southeast, and it appears to place Terrapin Point in Canada.
  • Despite that, I have found no evidence of anyone who claims the boundary actually crosses land (artificial or otherwise), nor have I seen on my trips to Goat Island any marker indicating such. (Obviously, I don't expect a customs checkpoint, but it seems like someone would have erected a sign or something.)

I suspect the topograhic maps I've seen are not particularly precise in the exact location of the border (their lines are awfully straight to be accurately following the midpoint of the river), but I have no contrary evidence to support that suspicion.

Anyone have any ideas?


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Old 04-10-2011, 05:22 PM
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I've always thought Terrapin Point must be American territory. You don't have to do anything to go there from the American side of the river. I assume if you crossed into Canadian territory, they're be some formalities involved. And I assume if Terrapin Rocks had been Canadian, the Americans wouldn't have connected them to Goat Island - even before the infill, there was a bridge to the rocks.
Old 04-10-2011, 07:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I've always thought Terrapin Point must be American territory. You don't have to do anything to go there from the American side of the river. I assume if you crossed into Canadian territory, they're be some formalities involved. And I assume if Terrapin Rocks had been Canadian, the Americans wouldn't have connected them to Goat Island - even before the infill, there was a bridge to the rocks.
I can't disagree, which is why I'm curious where exactly the border goes.


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Old 04-10-2011, 07:58 PM
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I would put a lot of faith in USGS topo maps, which you can view online at mapper.acme.com
Old 04-10-2011, 10:00 PM
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Google maps show it as American, plus it has an American zip code. It keeps showing up as some place in Florida, but you get my drift.
Old 04-10-2011, 11:12 PM
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Google Maps and the like can't be relied upon to align the various data sets that precisely. A skilled human thought about and double-checked the topo sheet.
Old 04-11-2011, 08:16 AM
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Looking more closely, it appears I may have been misreading the topographic map. The base of Terrapin Point -- that, is some talus that remains from when it was part of the Falls -- may edge ever-so-slightly into Canadian territory, but the top surface appears to be entirely within the U.S.

There still seems to be some dispute as to exactly where the border crosses the crest (which is, in reality, far more jagged than the topo map indicates), but I think it's clear now that if any part of Goat Island is in Canada, it's just some rocks at the base of the Falls.

That bit about the crest is still interesting, however; as I noted above, some sources claim that 100% of the Horseshoe Falls are now in Canada, which would require the border to precisely skirt the water's edge at Terrapin Point. That seems unlikely given the time at which and parameters by which the border was fixed.


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