THE township of Niagara was said to be unique in having four hotels, one on each corner of the crossroads, in the centre of the township.
Niagara is an abandoned town located in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, between Kalgoorlie and Leonora, 12km southwest of Kookynie.
The first pub was opened in 1895 at the intersection by Tom Farren, who built it from mud bricks and called it the Niagara Hotel.
In 1895 Charles Northmore and J. Timms were prospecting in the Waterfall or Niagara Falls area where they found gold, and a rush followed.
Following a rapid growth in population, the Land Department gazetted the townsite of Niagara later in 1896. On 6 August 1896 the Kalgoorlie-Niagara telegraph line was completed. Niagara had a telegraph and post office, registrar’s office, bank, police station, court house, a number of thriving stores, and four pubs.
Although seven streets in the townsite were gazetted, only two, Challenge and Waterfall, were developed. By 1900 over 60 buildings existed within the town.
After 1900, nearby Kookynie took over as the district centre and by 1903 Niagara was in decline with a population of 75.
By 1905 many of the mud brick buildings were derelict and by 1909 the town was abandoned. It seems the Niagara Hotel closed about 1913 when an advertisement appeared in the Kalgoorlie Sun on June 8, selling the entire contents of the pub, including a billiard table, snooker balls, cash register, furniture and piano.
Mrs Clara Paton recalled the birth of the township in the Western Mail (Perth) on October 30 1952:
“IN February, 1895, Dorrie Doolette and Charley Northmore arrived at the 90-mile and asked my husband, Arthur Williams, the licensee of the 90-Mile Hotel, if they could put their pack bags under the billiard table and camp in the billiard room. We knew at once they had found a mine.
Dorrie was in great spirits and entertained all hands with his jokes, tales and recitations while Mr. Northmore and Harry Gregory talked about some interesting country out back. They spent money freely, shouting for all hands. Next day, they continued on to Coolgardie to report their find and named the mine “The Challenge,” 45 miles beyond Menzies.
It was not long before a township was surveyed there and four hotel licences were granted Tom Farren built the first hotel with mud bricks and called it the “Niagara Hotel.”
Niagara soon developed into a flourishing little town with an hotel on each corner facing each other.
Not far from the township there was a piece of breakaway country which made a beautiful waterfall in the rainy season and a good catchment for water. This is why the town was called “Niagara.” The “Falls” was a beauty spot and was admired by many people in the early days.
There were several other mines around Niagara that produced a lot of gold; “The Champion,” “The Britannia” and “The Batavia,” and a number of prospect-ors working small shows.
The centre of the street between the four hotels seemed to be the meeting place where ail the prospectors and miners would meet on pay night to discuss their problems, and also where the two-up school would be held which would usually end up in a fight over bets. Fred Wilkinson, from Doodlakine, licensee of the “Great Western” Hotel, was always referee to see fair play, generally ending up in a bout himself.
Niagara is now deserted. There are only the remains of a few mud bricks and a Pepper tree where Niagara once was a township.”
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Categories: Western Australia hotels