Niagara Escarpment

Mount Nemo and Rattlesnake Point are composed of erosion-resistant rock called dolostone created over 400 million years ago when Lowville as covered by shallow, warm seas. Calcium shells of marine creatures settled to the sea floor to form horizontal calcium beds that, under pressure, heat and cementing solutions, created limestone rock. Over time, magnesium solutions altered the limestone to form dolostone rock.

About 12,000 years ago, glaciers crushed large amounts of bedrock covering much of the Lowville area with glacial till.

Early pioneers saw the escarpment as an impediment to overland travel, but sailors and fishermen used landmarks like Rattlesnake Point and Fisherman’s Gap to guide them.

Water that drained escarpment valleys was a source of water power to grind grain and saw lumber. Small communities like Dakota, and Cumminsville that grew up around early mill-sites, disappeared with the coming of steampower.

The Welland canal, constructed in 1829, provided an unencumbered water route over the escarpment for immigrants, and provided access to wider markets for Nelson Township products.

Limestone and sandstone mined from the escarpment was used in the construction of public buildings. Today, Nelson Quarry crushes 1.6 million tonnes of dolostone rock annually for the construction of modern roads.

To promote the protection of the escarpment and foster an appreciation of its beauty, the Bruce Trail which runs through the Lowville area, was established in 1967.

The Niagara Escarpment has been designated by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve.

Contributing Author: Lowville Community Calendar Committee