Suicide Note by Walter Haywood

Niagara Falls From a Glass Transparency by Detroit Publishing Company, c. 1890. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Here poor, unfortunate Haywood lies;
Nobody laughs, nobody cries;
Where he’s gone and how he fares
Nobody knows and nobody cares.

Source: T.W. Kriner. In the Mad Water: Two Centuries of Adventure and Lunacy at Niagara Falls.  Buffalo: J & J Publishing, 1999

Haywood jumped over Niagara Falls on September 10, 1891, and his body was never recovered. The above poem was found in a suicide letter addressed to Haywood’s friend Charles D. Nichols, as published in In the Mad Water:

Friend Charlie —

By the time you get this letter I shall be no more. You must, of course, know that I have run behind a Salamanca. In fact, I have not been able to make expenses since I went there. You see, old man, I had to wait there more than three weeks for goods, and, of course, it put me behind a good deal. And now that I realize how much I am in debt to B. & L. I see no way for me to make the same good, and I can’t and won’t face the disgrace of a defaulter.

I have come here with the deliberate intention of committing suicide, and I have a ticket in my pocket now for Niagara Falls. I leave here at 12 o’clock and will go over the falls as soon as I get there. I made a great mistake, Charlie, when I went to work for Baker; it was all out of my line, and now that the end has come and I see nothing but disgrace staring me in the face, I would suffer a thousand deaths before I would be sent up as a thief. I never intended to do wrong, but circumstances were against me, and I am now going to pay for the same with my life. Some, of course, will say that I am crazy, but you know better than that. I am just as cool and collected now as I ever was in my life. I owe Louis some $12.00, but he has plenty of goods in his charge and will no doubt look out for himself. I don’t know how much I am behind with B. & L., but it must be about $35.00.

Well, old man, don’t think worse of me than you can help, for I never meant to do what I have, and I guess I am my own worse enemy. You will, of course. see from the papers that I have done as I have stated, but I thought I would write to you anyway, as you alone can understand why I should take my life, And now, my friend, good bye.

If my body is found I think the following verse would be very appropriate.

Here poor, unfortunate Haywood lies;
Nobody laughs, nobody cries;
Where he’s gone and how he fares
Nobody knows and nobody cares.

Yours sincerely,

Walter Haywood
Buffalo, Sept. 10, 1891

burgoyne bridge by atlantic


we were not meant
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡to take Flight
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡in such a manner

a brief act
‡‡‡‡‡‡of desperation
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡will cause lasting wounds
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡that can never heal


‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡stay grounded

Source: the author, 2019

Burgoyne Bridge was infamous as a place to commit suicide, as it crossed high over the Twelve Mile Creek. Suicide barriers were installed when the Burgoyne Bridge was replaced in 2016.

atlantic was born and raised in Niagara Falls, where he still resides. A selection of his work is available on Instagram

Also by atlantic:
•    Baby Steps IV
•    carnival tunes
•    Robert Frost
•    water child

Untitled by J. Austin

The title page of the Table Rock Album

Down the steep an ocean pours,
Loud the rushing water roars.
Oh, how shadowy were the way,
If no rainbow lit the spray!
Here a love-sick swain may find
Speedy cure for anguished mind.
Take one plunge, and every woe
Down the gulf will quickly go.

J. Austin was from Texas


Source: Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery Adjacent. Buffalo: Steam Press of Thomas and Lathrops, copyright by Jewett, Thomas & Co.,1856c.1848

This link takes you to the scanned version of  the 1855 version of Table Rock Album from the Hathi Trust

See the Table of Contents of the Table Rock Album on this site.

Helicopter Rescue: A Limerick by Andrew Porteus

Helicopter rescue at the brink of Niagara Falls Horseshoe Falls, March 19, 2003. Photo by Corey Larocque, used with permission of Niagara Falls Public Library

A man changed his mind at the last minute
Suicide was now out – past his limit.
A helicopter was called
And in he was hauled
And then they all went out for a timbit!

Source: The Author, 2019

An unidentified man was rescued from the brink of the Horseshoe Falls on March 19, 2003, after spending 90 minutes in the water. He was fortunate that the water level was low and his foot got stuck in a crack in the riverbed.

The Hermit of Niagara by Professor James A. Martling


Francis Abbott Drowning in Niagara River. From Osgoode Bradbury, Francis Abbott; or, The Hermit of Niagara: A Tale of the Old and New World.  1846

“Though in thy veil of mist thou hid’st from me,
‡‡Thy glistening footsteps have I hither tracked :
Here on this rock I sit and wait for thee —
‡‡Thee love, thou Spirit of the Cataract.
O list again my tale of constancy !

“I’ve dreamed of thee since boyhood.   I have thought
‡‡Of thee at midnight, when beneath the stars
The whole earth slept, and thou hast been inwrought
‡‡Into my daytime reveries on the cloudy cars
Which sailed the sky with happy breezes fraught.

“And I have heard thy voice come calling me
‡‡When underneath the rustling beech I lay,
And watched the wave that to the terraced knee
‡‡Of the green hill leaped, hound-like, then away
Along the sands went gambolling toward thee.

“And I have thought that all things sought for thee ;
‡‡For thee the Sun climbed up the eastern shore,
Fresh bathed from the Atlantic’s purity,
‡‡And weaved thee rainbow garlands, and threw o’er
Thy form, of sheen and gold a gorgeous drapery.

“I have not sought the circles of the gay,
‡‡Where wanton beauty half unveiled is whirled
In the mad dance, by passionate youths that pay
‡‡Their amorous glances ; nor to breasts impearled
Nor all their wealth of charms are eyes forbid to stray.

“Nor could halls of learning, — nor the stage
‡‡Rich with enchantment, where the poet’s soul
Hath shed its affluence, — nor the voice of sage
‡‡Dewy with scripture, weaken thy control,
Nor me from my devotion disengage.

“Nor love, nor wine, nor song, nor power, nor gold
‡‡Nor the sweet glimpses of domestic bliss
That wooed me oft !   No, thy caresses cold
‡‡And pure embraces, and the frequent kiss
That falls like rain, dearer than all I hold !

“Thou hast all power, all passion in thyself
‡‡Thou Spirit of the Cataract, and I gaze
Where leap the waters from their rocky shelf
‡‡Down the abyss to thee with no amaze,
For thy charms lure sea-sprite and mountain-elf.

“The spirits of the mountain peaks, that keep
‡‡The hidden treasures of the mighty west,
Steal down the moonlit rivulets to peep
‡‡Upon the beauty of thy snowy breast
Unveiled amid the tossings of thy sleep.

“The spirits that collect the dews, and fill
‡‡The broad lakes, fill them for my love alone,
Their purity but equals thine : distil
‡‡The stars on thee their light, and o’er thy throne
Scatter the radiance of their holy bill.

“No more delay, my destiny divine,
‡‡But give the token of my speedy bliss :
I know my life shall be drawn into thine
‡‡Even as my whole heart already is :
And yet I wait the anticipated sign.

“Three happy yet three weary months have seen
‡‡Me waiting in my strange novitiate,
O love, thou knowest how constant I have been
‡‡Watching and waiting at the diamond gate
That flashes me and my pure love between.

“She comes !   She comes !   I see the radiant star
‡‡Upon her brow — the glory of her face !
She comes !   She comes !   she lifts the silver bar !
O love, in thine my arms I interlace,
And we forever more united are !”

Source: Professor James Abraham Martling. Poems of Home and Country. Boston: James H. Earle, Publisher, 1885

Click to read more about Francis Abbott, the Hermit of Niagara, and to see other poems about him.