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Niagara's Toledo visit starts today

Niagara-s-Toledo-visit-starts-today

The U.S. Brig Niagara rests at anchor off Middle Bass Island, awaiting her weekend visit to Toledo. The ship is scheduled to pass under the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge at 4 this afternoon and to dock at International Park at 4:30. Tomorrow and Sunday, crew members will give tours of the ship, which is visiting Toledo as a fund-raiser for the Willis B. Boyer Museum Ship. Other Niagara events include a concert tomorrow by the Toledo Concert Band.

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The U.S. Brig Niagara, also known as the Tall Ship Niagara, will sail up the Maumee River this afternoon.

The Niagara honors the ship that won control of Lake Erie for the United States, eventually enabling Gen. William Henry Harrison to invade Canada and end the War of 1812 in the northwest.

Upon her entry into the city of Toledo, the ship will exchange gun salutes with a cannon from Fort Meigs, and then moor at International Park for the weekend.

The Niagara's current square-rigged, two-masted incarnation closely mimics the 1813 warship.

After her victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, the Niagara served as a station ship, but was scuttled - sunk deliberately - in 1820 so that she would be preserved.

In 1913, she was raised from the water and restored. She was renovated again between 1933 and 1943, and then again in 1988.

While the Niagara has auxiliary propulsion engines and modern navigation equipment, she lacks many modern amenities, which gives her crew a taste of what it was like to sail the Great Lakes during the early 19th century.

Her crew consists of both professionals and students who will give tours of the ship tomorrow and Sunday.

"Visitors will be able to walk off the docks and take a step back in time," said Paul Lamarre III, the executive director of the S.S. Willis B. Boyer Museum Ship.

The Niagara is docking just ahead of the Boyer, a bulk freighter that sailed for her maiden voyage from the same spot in International Park where she sits today. The Niagara's Toledo stay is a fund-raiser for the Boyer, which is open to the public between May and October.

Because of the Boyer's financial woes for the past few years and her uncertain future, Mr. Lamarre said, the ship began flying a flag that reads, "Don't give up the ship" - the same phrase that Comm. Oliver Hazard Perry flew atop the Niagara while winning the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.

At 3:30 this afternoon, the Niagara will begin her entry into Toledo by sailing under the new Veterans' Glass City Skyway bridge before passing under the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge at 4 p.m.

At 4:30 p.m., the brig will arrive in International Park and exchange the gun salute. If the river is clear of boat traffic, the brig will turn a gun toward the Anthony Wayne Bridge and fire.

Capt. Daniel Cushing's Company, Second U.S. Artillery, a group of War of 1812 re-enactors, will fire the answering Fort Meigs cannon from Promenade Park.

The Toledo Concert Band will give a concert tomorrow night aboard the Boyer.

At sundown, 8:57 p.m., while soldiers and Marines representing the services aboard the Niagara in 1813 perform the naval ceremony of evening colors, the band will finish the concert by playing the National Anthem.

Contact Ali Seitz at:

aseitz@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.

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