NIAGARA FALLS – Historical tours of downtown and the area around the falls will be offered this tourist season by a regional nonprofit involved in historic preservation issues.
Preservation Buffalo Niagara, which has offered tours in Buffalo for more than a decade, is planning to run at least four walking tours beginning in a few months.
Two tours will focus on the area around the falls, and two will focus on historic buildings and sites in the downtown area, including Buffalo Avenue.
“We have been wanting to do this for some time,” said Tom Yots, the organization’s executive director, who is a former longtime Falls resident and former city historian.
Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the country and an international draw. But the city also has a great deal of historical sites and buildings, including places like the Whitney Mansion, built by the son of one of the city’s founders.
No decision has been made on how much the tours will cost, but Yots said they will likely be in the $10 or $20 range, like the organization’s walking tours are in Buffalo. More expansive tours in Buffalo can be $40 or $50.
The tours in the Falls, expected to begin around Memorial Day, will be led by the organization’s volunteer docents.
Training for docents interested in leading the Falls tours will be held in March through the Niagara Falls Historic Preservation Society, which received a grant to fund the training.
Preservation Buffalo Niagara has not established a site from which the tours will depart, though the organization is looking at a couple, Yots said.
The group is working with the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp., which operates a visitors center on Rainbow Boulevard, which could be such a location.
Yots said many visitors to the Falls want to know more about the history of the state park, the falls themselves and the community.
He said he knows from personal experience since he used to walk his dog daily in the park for the last 10 years he lived in the Falls.
“They all wanted to know more about where they were,” he said.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which runs the state park, has indicated it is looking forward to these new tour offerings.
The parks agency regularly offers three or four of its own agency-led tours each season.
Yots said visitors interested in area history also will be offered the opportunity to learn more about other historical sites and tours, especially in history-rich Buffalo.
Preservation Buffalo Niagara already offers daily tours of Buffalo City Hall, along with a variety of other tours, including of Buffalo’s historic buildings, grain elevators and the waterfront.
“We really are excited about taking what has been a very successful program in Buffalo and doing it in Niagara Falls,” Yots said.