USS Niagara VI - History

USS Niagara VI - History

Niagara VI
(SP-136: dp. 2,690; 1. 282'0"; b. 43'0", dr. 17'0"; s. 12 k.cpl. 195; a. 4 4", 2 mg., 1 Y-gun)

The sixth Niagara (SP-136), a steam yacht built in 1898 by Harlan and Hollingsworth, Wilmington, Del., was purehased by the Navy 10 August 1917 from Howard Gould of New York City; converted into an armed patrol yacht, and oommissioned m the Tebo's Yacht Basin, Brooklyn, N.Y 16 April 1918, Comdr. E. B. Larimer in command.

Niagara departed New York 21 May as escort for a merehant eonvov bound for Bermuda and the Azores. She arrived at Ponta Delgada, Azores, 12 August and departed 10 days later to join the American Patrol Detachment at Grassy Bay Bermuda. On 5 September she stood out of the latter port to rescue and tow in the merchant sloop Gauntlet adrift after her sails had been carried away in a storm. On 14 September the patrol yacht sailed for Martinique, West Indies, to escort the French cable ship Ponyer Quertier, arriving Fort-de-France on the 19th. The two ships operated in the West Indies visiting Trinidad, Barbados, Martinique, and Puerto Rico, until Niagara stood out from Port of Spain, Trinidad, 13 December for Charleston, S.C. She entered the New York Navy Yard 13 May 1919 for repairs before training out of New London and New York.

Niagara departed New York 25 September for Key West, then eruised off the coast of Mexico and between ports in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Other missions took her off Honduras, Guatemala, and Cuba. Reclassified PY-9 on 17 July 1920, she continued patrols in the Caribbean Sea as a unit of the special service squadron until decommissioning at Philadelphia 21 April 1922.

Niagara recommissioned 24 June 1924, Comdr. Paul P. Blackburn in command. She sailed 3 November to survey in the Caribbean under the direction of the Navy Hydrographie Offiee. She operated most of the next 8 years charting the Gulf of Venezuela and the coast of Central America.

Her last survey eruise ended when she returned to Philadelphia 17 October 1930. Niagara decommissioned 3 March 1931; and her name was struck from the Navy List 10 December 1931. She was sold for scrapping 13 September 1933 to the Northern Metal Co., Philadelphia, Pa.

The Bizarre History of the Vibrator: From Cleopatra's Angry Bees to Steam-Powered Dildos

Did you know that the first vibrator in history may have been invented by Egyptian Queen Cleopatra? Apparently, she had the idea of filling a hollow gourd with angry bees. The violent buzzing caused the gourd to vibrate and then. well, then, the rest is history.

And that history gets weirder and weirder from there, from bees to Victorian-era steam-powered dildos and handcracked vibration devices to the famous Hitachi Magic Wand from the 70s and the most modern devices, almost abstract designs with Bluetooth control and throbbing memory. Boys and girls, ladies and gentleman, here is the amazing, bizarre history of the vibrator:

Cleopatra's angry bees (54BC) — Little Gold (2004)

The tale says that it was the sexy Cleopatra who had the original idea that resulted in the first vibrator: a hollow gourd full of angry bees. Whether this was true or not, we will never know.

Whatever the reality was, I'm sure Cleopatra would have loved to own this 24k gold-plated vibrator, machined from a solid rod of surgical steel. Called Little Gold, it's the true MacBook Pro of vibrators, created 2050 years after Cleopatra's DIY device. Too late for both the Queen and Liz Taylor.

Dr. Macaura's Pulsocon Hand Crank (1890) — Hitachi Magic Wand (1970)

The Pulsocon is almost as scary looking as an angry beehive. This Victorian Era device was handcranked. I don't know how it worked or what effect it had. And I don't want to know. OK, I lie, I want to know.

The modern counterpart is the famous Hitachi Magic Wand, which appeared in every single porn movie I can remember in the 1970s. Linda Lovelace's best friend this side of John Holmes is still for sale, passing as a "massaging device" many times. Apparently, experts say that it is still the best plugged vibrator in existence, transforming 110 volts of alternating current into a massive rotating and vibrating power ball of pleasure. Asscary in theory, but infinitely exciting—or so the dames with insensitive clitorises say.

The Manipulator (1891) — Form 6 (2006)

The Manipulator. What a name. Another Victorian Era vibrator, this steam powered beast was as powerful as it was noisy. There was no need to ask "Honey, what are you doing in the bathroom?" It was all well understood. Full steamspunking power from beginning to end, up to eleven.

This Land Was Theirs (Part Two)

Although the Iroquois are the Native American Group most associated with Upstate New York—the Mahicans, a rival Algonquian speaking tribe—also lived in the easternmost section.

The Mohicans (Mahicans) were a confederacy of tribes originally living in what is now upstate New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and adjacent parts of Canada. Both the names Mahican and Mohican are correct are are used interchangeably, but NOT Mohegan,. The Mohegans are different tribe in eastern Connecticut who were related to the Pequot. In their own language, the Mahican referred to themselves collectively as the "Muhhekunneuw" "people of the great river" in reference to the mighty Hudson.

Mohican villages were fairly large. Usually consisting of 20 to 30 mid-sized longhouses, they were located on hills and heavily fortified. Large cornfields were located nearby. Agriculture provided most of their diet but was supplemented by game, fish, and wild foods. In the mid-1600s the Mohican became heavily involved in the Dutch fur trade.

It is difficult to estimate the Mohicans' population at the time of European contact. Scholarly estimates vary between 8,000 and 25,000 at the time of European contact. Regardless, by the early 1700s they would number only four or five hundred. Disease and alcoholism took its toll quickly among the Mohican population.

An area of historical and archaeological significance is the Schodack area that once consisted of three separate islands on the east side of the Hudson River below Albany. Schodack and Papscanee Islands were major Mohican village sites.

During the early to mid-eighteenth century there were a number of autonomous Mahican communities in and around the Hudson and upper Housatonic Valleys. They included Kaunaumeek, Freehold, Wechquadnach, Stockbridge, the mixed community at Shekomeko, a few others along the Hudson in Dutchess County, that at Westenhoek forming part of the Native population at Schaghticoke.


Their saga of survival took an interesting turn when after 1680—due to conflicts with the Mohawk—many moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts where they gradually became known as the Stockbridge Indians. In the 18th century, many converted to Christianity, while keeping certain traditions of their own. In the eighteenth century, some of the Mahican developed strong ties with missionaries of the Moravian Church from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who founded a mission at their village of Shekomeko in Dutchess County, New York. Over time hostilities developed with white settlers and they were gradually cheated out of land.

Following the disruption of the American Revolutionary War, a majority moved westward to New Stockbridge near Oneida Territory in central New York. The same pattern of land loss repeated itself. They left in the 1820s to join allies in Ohio, but there was no more land left. Eventually the Stockbridge-Munsee Band migrated to Wisconsin and established their present reservation in 1832. Fortunately the Mohican community stabilized there after the 1930s, and has experienced positive growth since then.

As mentioned in Part One, the area surrounding Schenectady and Saratoga was originally Mahican territory but they were permanently driven out by the fierce Mohawks.

The Iroquois called themselves the Haudenosaunee, which means "People of the Longhouse".The word &ldquoIroquois&rdquo is not a Haudenosaunee word. It is derived from a French version of a Huron Indian name and was considered derogatory, meaning &ldquoBlack Snakes.&rdquo Their original homeland was in upstate New York between the Adirondack Mountains and Niagara Falls. Through conquest and migration, they gained control of most of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.

Prehistoric Iroquoian Occupations

The contour of the land, streams, lakes, lines of travel, and danger from enemies largely determined the early limitations of occupied territory. The primary centers of prehistoric Iroquoian occupations (recognized by archaeologists as Iroquoian), were:

  • The St. Lawrence basin with Montreal as a center
  • The region between Georgian Bay and Ontario with Lake Simcoe as a center
  • The Niagara peninsula in Ontario following the Grand river
  • The Genesee River / Finger lake region
  • Chautauqua county, stretching across the Pennsylvania neck into Ohio
  • The highlands east of Lake Ontario in Jefferson county
  • Oneida, Madison, and Onondaga counties and
  • The Susquehanna River around Elmira.


-16th Century Iroquois Sites in Upstate New York-

The Mohawk tribe occupied the area between the modern village of Little Falls and the city of Amsterdam. This tribal territory was approximately 40 miles wide from east to west and 20 miles wide from north to south.

Why Were These Sites Mapped Below Chosen By The Mohawk?
The Garoga, Klock, and Smith-Pagerie sites are all located in Ephratah Township, Fulton County, New York. They are situated on high, easily defended ridges in the drainage of Caroga Creek, a major tributary of the Mohawk River.

The processes of erosion, and glacial infilling formed the ancient down-cutting streambed of Caroga Creek (similar to a number of other stream beds that dissect the valley). These drainage systems carried massive amounts of water down the valley floor. Over tens of thousands of years, these streams deeply incised the soft underlying sedimentary bedrock creating narrow and deep gorges or &ldquohollows&rdquo

The highly developed series of meanders that characterized these tributaries created numerous isolated oxbows and ridges protected on three sides by stream-cut cliffs and embankments. Thousands of years after retreat of the Wisconsinan ice, which took place around 12,000 years ago, these elevated and isolated locations were sought after by the Mohawk Iroquois for the natural defenses they provided.

Mohawk Valley - 16th Century Iroquois Sites

How Were These Sites Mapped?

Techniques for Uncovering and Understanding Native American Vestiges

Post Molds - The most common technique for investigating the archaeological remains of longhouses is by exposing post-mold patterns either by mechanical stripping or hand excavation. Post molds are the filled voids in the ground created by past structural elements long since removed, burned, or rotted away. Usually circular on the exposed surface and tapering or conical in cross-section, they are often only recognizable through careful identification of differences in soil color and texture defining the outline of the mold.

Magnetometry, a relatively new technique used by the Mohawk Valley Project, has proven to be useful for site investigations in some instances. Under certain conditions a magnetometer can locate fired clay features, such as hearths, because they create a subtle distortion in the magnetic field. Comprehensive survey of a site taking magnetometer readings at regular intervals can be used to produce a shaded contour plot depicting magnetic anomalies. These anomalies can then be tested in the field using soil auguring to verify the presence or absence of hearths. Because longhouses were typified by fire hearths located along the central aisle, identification of a linear pattern of hearths often indicates the presence of a longhouse.

-Native American Trails-

Ballston Lake, NY has long been recognized as being on the trail leading from the Mohawk River at Rexford/Alplaus, north along the Alplaus Creek to the lake and thence north and northeast to Saratoga Lake and the Hudson Valley (see map below). Also, further travel east up the Hoosick Valley is known to have existed, which provided a means of entry into New England.

An old Indian trail once crossed the south end of the Lisha Kill, connecting the Normans Kill with a Mohawk village on Niska Isle in the Mohawk River, and used to access the nearby Helderberg Escarpment to quarry chert for stone tools.

There are a few historical markers in the area to mark where Native American trails once existed:


An interesting array of Irqouois artifacts have been recovered from various archaeological digs across New York.

Where are the Iroquois Today?

Today Iroquois live scattered in a diaspora on the fringes of their original homeland as well as in two far flung communities on Oklahoma and Wisconsin. In 2010, more than 45,000 enrolled Six Nations people lived in Canada, and about 80,000 in the United States.

Further Info

Source credits and recommended reading (further study).

Native American Study Featuring Broken Promises/ Broken People
An Interactive Narrative Based on Howard Zinn&rsquos "A People&rsquos History of the United States"

Contemporary Native American Architecture

You are a member of one of the midwestern nations of Native Americans. Your ancestors had no permanent architecture because they were nomadic hunter-gatherers (see photo below). But now you live on a reservation in South Dakota, or near the Twin Cities in Minnesota. You and your relatives want to establish a cultural center, or a day care, or health clinic for your people.

Cass Lake Health Clinic (Indian Health Service), Leech Lake Reservation (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe), Minnesota

Do you want it to look like the local museum or clinic (image left) built by the Federal or State government? Probably not, because in the post-modern era since about 1965, various groups have proclaimed their specific ethnic identity. Native Americans now reinforce cultural memory despite the near-eradication of their cultures by European-American governments and individual prejudice. This emphasis is now common among other minority and religious groups that have suffered under dominant cultures here and abroad.

Your native nation will seek an architect perhaps not of Native American ancestry that will depend upon available talent and sensitivity to your culture, although increasing numbers of Native Americans have studied architecture. You will want the design to suggest something appropriate to your heritage.

Edward S. Curtis, Moving camp (detail), c. November 19, 1908, photographic print, Atsina on horses with travois behind them, tipis in background, Montana (Library of Congress)


In the Midwest, the result might reflect local types of lodges, tipis, and ceremonial buildings of the past, but made of practical and accessible modern materials since an original tipi made of animal hides would be impermanent and lightweight. When the original hides no longer kept out the weather, they were easily replaced with new ones, but people today want durable materials and have time and funds for less frequent maintenance. The tipi has inspired versions in concrete, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Community Hall (1989) by Johnson, Sheldon, Sorensen, in glass, the Southern Ute Cultural Center (2011), by Jones & Jones* (see image below) and in rough stone with wood beams as in the Chief Gall Inn (1972) designed by Harrison Bagg at the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota.

The Four Winds School (1983) at Fort Totten on the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota by Charles Archambault, Denby Deegan* and Neil McCaleb,* has the overall round shape of a ceremonial lodge or tipi but in order to accommodate classrooms, a gymnasium and cafeteria, the interior is divided into rooms around a circular core containing a tipi for counseling sessions.

Northwest coast

Along the Northwest coast, the building will probably be a rectangle of logs or milled wood with a pitched roof, evoking ancestral longhouses made from trees in the dense local forests. Retaining the traditional long shape while using some reinforced concrete for the sake of permanence, the Makah nation in Washington State created a cultural center in Neah Bay (1979 by Fred Bassetti architects) that has cedar cladding to harmonize with older buildings on the reservation. The Native American student center at Oregon State University uses logs and the longhouse form to accommodate members of several Native nations, without imitating buildings of one group (image below). The longhouse is a traditional form of architecture for several Native American nations in the coastal Northwest and was built to house extended families and community functions.

Jones & Jones*, Native American Longhouse (student center), 2013, Oregon State University (photo: Theresa Hogue, CC BY-SA 2.0)

At least one individual, Lawrence Joe,* of the Upper Skagit reservation in Washington has built a longhouse (1986) for therapeutic activities intended to accustom delinquent or disturbed youths to better ways of living according to traditional ethical standards. Northeastern forests, too, have provided logs for construction since ancient times, and various wood-covered buildings have been erected there for tribal offices, a student center at Cornell University (1991, by Flynn Battaglia, see detail below), museums and cultural centers. If there is insufficient money for a properly insulated wooden construction, a group may decorate a simpler building made of industrial materials with appropriate historically-based ornament, as in the Takopi Indian Health Center in Tacoma, WA (2002, by Mulvanny G2) or the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca NY (by Lloyd Barnwell,* designs by Carson Waterman*).

Haudenosaunee wampum belt design on exterior shingles (detail), Flynn & Battaglia, Akwe:kon (“all of us” in Mohawk), 1991, student residence and community center, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York


In the southwest, a structure might be made of adobe (earthen brick structures made of sand, silt, clay, and straw), with thick walls and small windows to moderate heat during the warm months. Adobe requires frequent maintenance, however, so new buildings are often made of reinforced concrete, a durable material that can be colored to match the local earth of which adobe is composed. The San Felipe Pueblo school in New Mexico (image below) has geometric forms, close to those of an adobe building but with larger windows to admit more natural light and with subtle colors to enhance the appeal of the building to its young users.

Michael Doody supervised by Robert Montoya,* The San Felipe Pueblo School, 1982, San Felipe Pueblo, New Mexico (photo: courtesy of the author)

A southwestern building may also be built primarily of other natural materials, such as stone or wood, roughly hewn as the ancestors would have left it. The Pojoaque Pueblo Council Chambers, a seriously impressive building of modest size, is one example. A stone post barely altered from its natural state supports the sapling ceiling of the principal room in a thick-walled adobe structure. The building owes its form to two designers, the pueblo’s own governor, George Rivera* (also a sculptor) and Joel McHorse, Jr., as well as to its own construction organization—rather than to an imported designer. Along the highway entrance to the pueblo, Rivera* also designed a museum and cultural center using the solid, massive geometric forms customary in adobe building (see image below).

George Rivera with early assistance from Dennis Holloway, Poeh Cultural Center and Museum, 2012, Pojoaque (Po’su wae geh), New Mexico (photo: Howard Lifshitz, CC BY 2.0)

Urban centers

It is less easy to imagine an urban center where members of several native nations come together despite their varied cultural and architectural traditions. Whose culture will dominate? When it is impossible to find a site and funds for a new building, members must rent space in existing buildings that can be decorated inside with art or objects pertinent to the cultures in the area. The Minneapolis American Indian Center is a purpose-built center (see image below). The design connects the inside to nature through large glass windows. Woven wood designs by George Morrison* cover large parts of the outside. A ceremonial circle with stepped seating forms part of the entrance plaza. Inside, events take place below a ramp that replaces stairs or banked seating, to accommodate the customary ways of observing events—in small groups, spaced comfortably apart from one another. This building expresses Native life ways even though it does not imitate an indigenous building type.

Hodne-Stageberg Partners with Denby Deegan* and Dennis Sun Rhodes,* exterior wooden design at right by George Morrison,* Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1972 (photo: Bill Forbes, by permission, all rights reserved)

Natural forms

Several buildings for Native groups specifically evoke natural forms revered by the members of the nation. The Oneida in Wisconsin built a school with a plan in the form of a turtle (below left), and the same animal, sacred to the Iroquois confederacy, inspired the plan of a now-closed cultural center in Niagara Falls (below right).

Left: Aerial view, Richard Thern, Oneida Nation Elementary School, 1995, Oneida, Wisconsin (photo: ©Google). Right: Hodne-Stageberg with Dennis Sun Rhodes,* Iroquois Confederacy Cultural Center (closed), 1981, Niagara Falls, New York (photo: TC Fenstermaker, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., opened in 2004, is the result of collaboration, first with Douglas Cardinal* and GBQC, then with a consortium headed by Louis Weller* and Polshek Partners. Donna House,* an ethnobotanist and others also contributed to the result. Unlike smooth white buildings on the Mall, this one has a rough yellow stone surface, and is surrounded by landscaping of only indigenous ornamental or food-yielding plants. The boldly contoured facade confronts the neoclassical design of the Capitol. Inside and out, curving lines dominate because some Native American design participants claimed that these contours were natural and indigenous they saw rigid straight lines as imports from abroad. A domed rotunda just inside the entrance accommodates ceremonies that can be viewed both at ground level and from surrounding balconies. As a building in the nation’s capital, the Museum reflects its position within the largely neoclassical context of the straight-sided Mall while accommodating various indigenous traditions.

Douglas Cardinal*, Louis Weller* with GBQC and Polshek Partners, National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC, 2004

The variety of native traditions, available materials, and architectural expertise has therefore given our continent new and culturally sensitive architectural forms during the last two generations.

*denotes Native American ancestry

Additional resources

Carol Herselle Krinsky, Contemporary Native American Architecture, New York, Oxford University Press, 1996

USS Pickering

USS Pickering was a schooner of the U.S. Navy, launched in 1798. She served in the Quasi-War with France. Pickering was one of the first victims of the Bermuda Triangle in September of 1800, likely lost in a storm. The exact cause of Pickering's disappearance remains a mystery.

Perry's Plan

As the principal armament of his brigs was short-range carronades, Perry intended to close on Detroit with Lawrence while Lieutenant Jesse Elliot, commanding Niagara, attacked Queen Charlotte. As the two fleets sighted each other, the wind favored the British. This soon changed as it began to lightly blow from the southeast benefiting Perry. With the Americans slowly closing on his ships, Barclay opened the battle at 11:45 a.m. with a long-range shot from Detroit. For the next 30 minutes, the two fleets exchanged shots, with the British getting the better of the action.

Despite its type of weapon, the Niagara 9mm has very slow rate of fire compared to other fully-automatic firearms (estimated to be around 3-4 rounds per second, making it fire 180-240 RPM), making it function closer to a slow-firing assault rifle rather than an SMG. It's so slow-firing that it's pretty difficult to hit a moving target. However, it deals more damage per bullet than the SMG-2 or Defender Machine Gun, but fires so slowly that said weapons are significantly more effective.

The weapon, just like an assault rifle, deals good damage per bullet and is capable eliminate Agency agents in just 3 to 4 headshots when up close, making them a great choice for players who have precise aiming compared to the more spray-and-pray SMG-2. However, just like an SMG, the weapon's damage starts to drop off greatly at range.

As a simple SMG, it's arguably worse than the faster firing SMG-2 and inferior to the SW9 Assault Rifle, so the main reason to use it is the availability of ammunition at the Agency submarines. The player needs to aim well and at the head when using this.

The secondary fire allows it to lock onto enemies similar to the 21-J Smart-Rifle, albeit this weapon fires explosive rounds instead. This is effective against grouped up infantry and lightly armored targets.

Evidence for a Flood

". the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights."

This quote from the Book of Genesis is part of a familiar tale — the story of Noah's flood. Scholars have known for a long time that the Bible isn't the only place this story is found — in fact, the biblical story is similar to a much older Mesopotamian flood story in the epic of Gilgamesh. Scholars usually attribute things like the worldwide occurrence of flood stories to common human experiences and our love of repeating good stories, but recently scientists have started to uncover evidence that Noah's flood may have a basis in some rather astonishing events that took place around the Black Sea some 7,500 years ago.

The scientific version of Noah's flood actually starts long before that, back during the last great glaciation some 20,000 years ago.

This was a time when the earth looked very different from what we are used to today. Thick ice sheets extended down from the North Pole as far as Chicago and New York City. All that water had to come from somewhere, so ocean levels were about 400 feet lower than they are today. In essence, water that evaporated from the oceans fell as snow (which was compacted into glacial ice) rather than rain (which would flow back and replenish the oceans as it does now). The East Coast of the United States was 75 to 150 miles farther out than it is today, and places like Manhattan and Baltimore would have been inland cities. During this period, meltwater from the European glaciers flowed down to the Black Sea basin, then out through a river channel into the Mediterranean. Because the Mediterranean is connected to the world ocean at Gibraltar, it was also 400 feet lower than it is today, so this flow of fresh water through the Black Sea was downhill.

Two geologists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have offered a new theory of what happened next. William Ryan and Walter Pitman, in Noah's Flood (Simon & Schuster), postulate that as time went on, the world warmed, the glaciers retreated and meltwater from the European glaciers began to flow north into the North Sea, depriving the Black Sea of its main source of replenishment. The level of the Black Sea began to drop, and most of the area around its northern boundary — the area adjacent to present-day Crimea and the Sea of Azov — became dry land. At this point, the level of the Black Sea was several hundred feet below that of the Mediterranean, and the two were separated by the barrier of the Bosporus, then dry land. This situation, with the world ocean rising while the Black Sea was falling, could not last forever. Eventually, like a bathtub overflowing, the Mediterranean had to pour through into the Black Sea basin.

The idea that ocean basins can flood catastrophically during periods of rising sea levels is nothing new in geology. Five million years ago, long before there were any humans around, just such an event occurred. The level of the Atlantic Ocean had dropped, or some tectonic event had occurred, with the result that water could no longer get through, and the Mediterranean gradually shrank down to a desert spotted with a few salty bits of ocean. Subsequently, when either the Atlantic rose again or another geological change took place, ocean water began pouring back into the former sea. The basin filled, and the present-day Mediterranean was created.

We know such things because sediments reveal history. Ryan and Pitman began taking cores of the present-day Black Sea. The cores seemed to be telling a strange story indeed, particularly in the northern areas. At the very bottom of the cores, dozens of feet below the present seafloor, they found layered mud typical of river deltas.

Carbon-dating of shells in this mud indicates that it was laid down between 18,000 and 8,600 years ago. This data showed that an area of the Black Sea about the size of Florida might have been much like the lower Mississippi Delta today — rich farmland with an abundant supply of fresh water.

Directly above the layers of mud is a layer of what Pitman calls "shell hash" — an inch-thick layer of broken shells — overlain by several feet of fine sediment of the type being brought into the Black Sea by rivers today. The shells in the "hash" are typical of what was in the Black Sea when it was a body of fresh water. The fine sediments contain evidence of saltwater species previously unknown in the Black Sea. It is the interpretation of these layers that tells us what happened on that inevitable day when rising sea levels in the Mediterranean reached the base of the sediments at the bottom of the Bosporus — and all hell broke loose.

When the Mediterranean began to flow northward, it "popped the plug" and pushed those sediments into a "tongue" of loose sediment on the bottom of what would become the present-day Black Sea (this tongue can still be seen in cores taken from the ocean bottom in that area). As the flow of water increased, it began to cut into the bedrock itself. The rock in this area is broken — Pitman calls it "trashy" — and even today rockslides are a major engineering problem for roads cut into the cliffs alongside the Bosporus. The incoming water eventually dug a channel more than 300 feet deep as it poured into the Black Sea basin, changing it from a freshwater lake to a saltwater ocean. In this scenario, the mud beneath the shell hash represents sediments from the rivers that fed the freshwater lake, the shell hash the remains of the animals that lived in that lake, and the layers above it the result of the saltwater incursion.

It was this event that Pitman and Ryan believe could be the flood recorded in the Book of Genesis. The salt water poured through the deepening channel, creating a waterfall 200 times the volume of Niagara Falls (anyone who has ever traveled to the base of the falls on the Maid of the Mist will have a sense of the power involved). In a single day enough water came through the channel to cover Manhattan to a depth at least two times the height of the World Trade Center, and the roar of the cascading water would have been audible at least 100 miles away. Anyone living in the fertile farmlands on the northern rim of the sea would have had the harrowing experience of seeing the boundary of the ocean move inland at the rate of a mile a day.

In addition, Pitman and Ryan point out what archaeologists who study ancient civilizations have known for a long time: that at roughly the time of the flood, a number of people and new customs suddenly appeared in places as far apart as Egypt and the foothills of the Himalayas, Prague and Paris. The people included speakers of Indo-European, the language from which most modern European and Indian languages are derived. Pitman and Ryan suggest that these people might, in fact, represent a diaspora of Black Sea farmers who were driven from their homes by the flood, and that the flood itself might have been the cause of the breakup of Indo-European languages.

Unfortunately, the evidence for this diaspora is a good deal less solid than the evidence for the flood itself. Linguists have long known how to reconstruct ancient languages by looking at words that have survived in the descendants of those languages today. The date of an event like the split-up of the Indo-European languages can then be estimated by comparing those words with artifacts found in excavations — a language probably won't have a word for "wheel," for example, unless it actually uses wheeled vehicles. "It is unlikely that the Indo-European languages split up before 3500 B.C. (that is, 2,000 years after the Black Sea flood)," says University of Chicago linguist Bill Darden, basing his conclusion on this sort of argument. If he and his colleagues are right, then the diaspora part of the flood story will be just another beautiful theory shot down by ugly facts.

Walter Pitman accepts that there is controversy on this part of his thesis, but can't resist one final irreverent geologist's observation: "When you look at the settlements those people built," he says, "not one of them is less than 150 feet above sea level!"

Peter Debernardi & Geoffrey Petkovich

Peter Debernardi and Geoffrey Petkovich both of Niagara Falls were the first team to go over in the same barrel. Positioned head to head in the ten foot 3000 lb 12 ft reinforced steel barrel, containing harness straps and two oxygen tanks. On the side of the barrel were the words " Don't put yourself on the Edge - Drugs will kill you". Small plexi-glass windows enabled DeBernardi to videotape the entire stunt. The contraption was launched into the Niagara River from the back of a truck at approximately 150 metres (492 ft) above the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

Once over the Falls, it crested and floated for several minutes close to the base. And nearing the Canadian shore, members of the daredevil's support crew snagged it with grappling hooks. When the hatch was opened, Debernadi and Petkovich emerged with minor injuries. Climbing the bank to the Scenic Tunnels, they refused medical attention and were transported to the Niagara Parks Police Office. Here they were charged with infractions under the Niagara Parks Act.

DeBernardi was quoted as saying that it was a small price to pay to be immortalized in the history books. To discourage future stunters the fine for anyone attempting a stunt was raised to a maximum of $10,000, and the ability to confiscate the stunters barrels.

Airport Guide

Visit Buffalo Niagara is the official tourism promotion agency for Buffalo and Erie County. Stop by the Buffalo Niagara Visitor Center on the secure side of the airport for free brochures, maps and visitor information about Buffalo’s incredible attractions, dining, lodging and events. The Visitor Center also sells a wide variety of fun, one-of-a-kind Buffalo-themed gifts, with 100% of proceeds reinvested in promoting our region. The Visitor Center is open Sunday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (716)-880-4797 Destination Niagara USA is the official tourism promotion agency for Niagara Falls USA and Niagara County. Begin your adventure at the Niagara Falls USA Official Visitor Center, conveniently located just minutes from Niagara Falls State Park. Our knowledgeable staff can help you figure out what to do, where to go and how to get there, in addition to an array of services. For more information or to plan your getaway to Niagara Falls USA visit or call 1-877-FALLS US.

Watch the video: Ships of Naval Action - Niagara