The Black Rock on the Niagara River was an ancient outcropping of black chert, a flint like hard rock used for making arrowheads or the sparking flint in the flintlock muskets. There is little consensus on its size or shape of the Rock despite a number of verbal and map depictions. Some maps have the rock blending in with shoreline while others have it extending out at least a hundred feet into the Niagara River. Since it was used as a point of departure for the ferry, it only makes sense that the ferry left from that point because of the protection it provided from the swift current of the river. To provide this protection it had to protrude into the river so as to cause the protecting back eddy. The Black Rock was also large and level enough to allow two taverns to be built upon it. And yet, contempory maps seem to have overlooked the very landmark which gave the area its name. It is very puzzling.
This Admiralty map is probably quite close to what the Black Rock would have appeared at the time. However the cliff line I believe, is just a rough indication of the topography of the area. I have shaded what I believe was the area of the rock.
The Admiralty Bayfield map has the road o n the wrong side of Fort Adams and no indication of the cliff. Although it does show the rock similer to the FitzWilliam.
The cartographers of the British Army were exceptional. It is surprising therefore the lack of interest in the Black Rock itself. Surely the Rock would have had military importance as a place to land troops. This map does show an excellant topography and placement of Fort Adams.
This map was made for the Boundary Commission following the 1812 War. The shading of the rock was done by myself so as to indicate where the rock might be.
This second map of Porter’s gives a differnent representation of the Rock. I do not have a key for the numbers so perhaps 4 on the map indicates the rock while 3 is Fort Adams which I have drawn in.
The map to the left is a map made from memory in 1863 by the surveyor Henry Lovejoy with input from early residents of Black Rock. This map has been accepted by many including myself as a accurate representation of the Black Rock, but lately I am having doubts.
The view on the right is my attempt to resolve the conflicting maps of Black Rock. I have taken what I believed were the most likely possibilities from the Fitzwilliam, the 1814, and the Porter 1819 map. I tweaked the result using information from the 1863 map.
The road leading down to the ferry I believe would have followed the gulley as shown in the 1814 map. Both the Bayfield map and the Fitzwilliam map show a deep sandy shore between the Rock and Lake Erie. This conforms to the 1863 map. Below the black rock the shore was probably a mixture of beach and rocky out-cropings as I have shown. The major road at thjis time ran along this beach, past the Black Rock and continued along the beach to Buffalo. The road that would become Niagara Street was a rutted, swampy trail, to be avoided if possible.
The buildings on and around the Rock are more likely to have been located as shown either in the FitzWilliam or the Bayfield map, as both are similar in configuration and slightly different from the recollect map of 1863.
Black Rock History 2