Black Rock - The Name
The second largest city in New York could easily have been Black Rock, NY.
In 1819, a western destination for the Erie Canal had not been determined and Buffalo sorely wanted to be chosen over Black Rock.
Great effort was expended to render the mouth of Buffalo Creek navigable so that vessels would not have to tie up in Black Rock, Buffalo's earliest rival in commerce. The mouth of the harbor was moved 60 rods to the south in an ingenious plan by Samuel Wilkeson to thwart the sand bar which continually rebuilt itself, thus preventing an open channel for navigation, and Buffalo Harbor was born.
When the canal commissioners left the Eagle Tavern and the area in 1822 they had given the people of the area the impression that Buffalo had the edge. That winter the decision was final, Buffalo was to have the Erie Canal!
Buffalo now had an excellent harbor for the many wharves storehouses and supporting facilities which quickly sprang up. The Erie Canal had brought great prosperity to the small community which then began to grow in leaps and bounds.
In spite of losing the Erie Canal terminus to Buffalo and being burned to the ground by the British during the War of 1812, Black Rock continued to prosper and in 1839, was incorporated as a town. In 1853, the City of Buffalo annexed the town of Black Rock.
Because of its strategic position across the Niagara River from Canada, Black Rock was an important crossing place for African-Americans escaping slavery via the Underground Railroad.
In the 1870s, a railroad bridge connected the two nations at Black Rock, an engineering marvel at the time. Black Rock's station handled both passenger service and commercial transport of goods into and out of Canada. The railroad bridge remains in heavy usage and is one of the most important commercial rail crossings between the United States and Canada.