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For nearly as long as Niagara Falls has been a global travel destination, Table Rock Centre, or some version of it, has been at the heart of the traveller’s experience. Named for a large, flat slab of rock that jutted from the top of the gorge wall overlooking the falls, the “table rock” partially collapsed in 1818, with continuous deterioration of both notable and significant portions occurring throughout the 1800s – including an 1850 incident in which a man washing his carriage on the rock just managed to escape with his life.

For nearly as long as Niagara Falls has been a global travel destination, Table Rock Centre, or some version of it, has been at the heart of the traveller’s experience. Named for a large, flat slab of rock that jutted from the top of the gorge wall overlooking the falls, the “table rock” partially collapsed in 1818, with continuous deterioration of both notable and significant portions occurring throughout the 1800s – including an 1850 incident in which a man washing his carriage on the rock just managed to escape with his life.

In 1827, local industrialist Thomas Barnett built the first Table Rock Museum approximately 100 metres south of the “table rock” site (with an accompanying staircase for visitors to get to the base of the Horseshoe Falls). Seeing commercial opportunity, a number of other regional business people attempted stake claim in the vicinity of “table rock.” Most notable among these was Saul Davis, of Buffalo, New York, first building the Prospect House in 1844 and then Table Rock House in 1853.

A bitter feud persisted between Barnett, Davis and their families, and the area around their respective buildings (pictured here with Barnett’s in the foreground and Davis’ behind) slipped into seediness and disregard. The rivalry between these two men and their respective supporters included attacks and assaults, and extended to vandalism and arson to their properties. Often travellers patronizing either men’s tours to the falls would be harassed or attacked by the other man’s supporters. Davis’ Table Rock House became derisively referred to as “The Den of Forty Thieves.”

Following the passing of the Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park Act in 1887, all privately owned properties on the land were purchased by the Ontario government, with the vast majority of structures on them being demolished shortly thereafter, as the first steps to restoring the land to a more natural condition. Due to its prime location and relative good condition at the the time, Saul Davis’ Table Rock House was preserved and functioned as the park’s flagship visitor building upon the official opening of the park to the public on May 24th 1888.

Saul Davis' Table Rock House with Elevator

A bitter feud persisted between Barnett, Davis and their families, and the area around their respective buildings (pictured here with Barnett’s in the foreground and Davis’ behind) slipped into seediness and disregard. The rivalry between these two men and their respective supporters included attacks and assaults, and extended to vandalism and arson to their properties. Often travellers patronizing either men’s tours to the falls would be harassed or attacked by the other man’s supporters. Davis’ Table Rock House became derisively referred to as “The Den of Forty Thieves.”