A bond was formed between the Tuscarora Nation and the thousands of workers who came to Lewiston to build the Niagara Power Project after Niagara Mohawk’s Schoellkopf hydropower plant was destroyed by a rock slide in 1956.
That bond was among the many stories of the workers who became known as the “Hard Hats of Niagara.”
Author Ken Glennon released a 50th anniversary book of personal recollections from the project’s construction in 2011, “Hard Hats of Niagara: The Niagara Power Project.”
He said that he was inspired by those bonds to create a hand-carved peace pipe, which he inscribed with totems of history leading to the construction of the Power Project.
Last month Rev. James J. Maher, Niagara University president, offered a blessing of the pipe at Glennon’s request. The pipe’s silver work was completed by Alvaro Coronado, a jeweler from Ashland, Va.
In the book, Glennon tells the story of Richard and Edith Willette who came to work on the power project from the St. Lawrence Seaway Project in Massena.
The couple said they were welcomed to the area by members of the Tuscarora Reservation and that the welcome turned into lifelong friendships.
Present for the blessing were Glennon, Richard and Edith Willette of North Tonawanda, and Joseph and Norma Sardina of Niagara Falls, whose story is also in Glennon’s book. Glennon and his wife, Cheryl, currently reside in South Bend, Ind.
“Hard Hats of Niagara: The Niagara Power Project” is available for purchase on Amazon.com.