In the early 1800s John Thompson, son of Scottish immigrants to Niagara, established a quarry on a picturesque ridge overlooking the massive whirlpool in the Niagara River. Thompson quarried the exposed rock at the lip of the gorge and processed it into agricultural lime. His complex featured two kilns and a water powered sawmill. The mill extended back to where the Whirlpool Restaurant sits today.
Thompson Point, the former site of the mine, gained further significance as part of the Spanish Aero Car project. The cable car, built in Bilboa, Spain, was launched in August of 1916. It departs from Colt’s Point, directly across the whirlpool from Thompson, and carries a maximum of forty visitors 76 meters over the waters below. The cables between the two points span 539 meters.
The car and cables were replaced in 1984 by the Niagara Parks Commission. A year later they commissioned a rescue car which is housed at Thompson Point. The smaller vehicle, with a carrying capacity of six, is tested yearly by the Parks Police but has not yet been required in an emergency.
In September of 2010, the Whirlpool Aero Car (as the Parks has since renamed it) was recognized as an International Historic Civil Engineering Work.
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