Tonawanda News


May 4, 2013

TUCKER: The rest of the story


Tonawanda News — “If you want to view Goose Island in it’s heyday, go to and hit the search link. On the page that comes up, select “location” and enter Tonawanda and New York. Scroll down to the maps listed as 1908 or 1909 and select Tonawanda 001 and 002, or Tonawanda 1 and 2. Many of the smaller buildings and sites were pretty dingy waterfront bars, or what people in those days referred to as ‘Bawdy Houses.’

Stan Nicholson, added that, “when I was about 12-years-old, my pals and I would go there and hide in the tall grass to watch the ‘red light district’ girls wave at prospective clients who walked by. ... The old canal boat men used to love Goose Island and its recreational opportunities.

Here’s history Bob Derner found regarding Goose Island.

“It was located where now there is the River Edge Townhouses. At one time in the late 1800’s after the State Barge Canal opened in 1825, the Tonawandas became the second largest lumber port on the world, Chicago was the first. The Twin Cities reached that status because of their location at the western terminis of the Canal before it reached the Niagara River. The canal opened the route to the west and allowed lumber from Minnesota and Michigan to flow east. Large piles of lumber were stored on Goose Island and the North Tonawanda shore. ... The railroad swing bridge, built by the New York Central and Hudson Railroad in 1885-86, to connect the lumber yards is still there, the last hand operated swing bridge left on the Barge Canal.

* Mary Lou Schlagenhauf sent in wonderful memories of Goose Island.

“I remember going over to see my Aunt Claire and Uncle George Johnson who live on Chestnut Street on Goose Island across from the foundry.... My aunt and uncle had a big parrot they would let fly all over the house. There were bird feathers, poop and seeds all over. We sat and had tea and cookies. ... Goose Island wasn’t an island, it was over where the condos are now.”

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