Meet Red Hill

While I’m developing Book 3, and there isn’t much to share yet, here are some reference photos I thought  you might find interesting.


This photo, courtesy of the Niagara Falls Public Library, shows the incline on the American side that takes you down to the base of the American Falls. In the upper right, you can see part of the Horseshoe Falls. Some ice bridges freeze the surface all the way to the Horseshoe Falls. The 1912 ice bridge was a frozen strip from the incline across the river to the Canadian side. The huge mounds of snow at the base of the falls are actually formed from freezing mist. People used to ride sleds down those slopes!

Ice Bridge with Shanties.

Ice Bridge with Shanties.

Here is a better shot of the ice bridge. As you can see, the shanties are lined up from one shore to the other. The incline on the far shore is in the USA, next to the American Falls. So, how would you like to take a stroll with me out across the ice bridge to buy a snooker of whiskey or a photo of a stuntman? Haha, just kidding.

Red Hill and son

Red Hill and son

This is Red Hill, the guy on the left with all the medals. His son is to the right. Red is legendary as the Riverman. Kind of a River Whisperer, if you will. He and his family are responsible for countless rescues and body recoveries in the Niagara. Red was a dare devil, too. He shot the rapids in a barrel that took him down to the whirlpool, and survived.

Book 3 starts out with Red, as he prepares his souvenir shanty to be set out on the ice bridge. Burrell and Iggy are still on the train, just passing the Erie Station in North East, PA. and soon approaching Buffalo, NY.

Red Hill was quite a character, and I hope to capture that in both the text and the pictures, although it would take volumes to tell his whole story. I’d like this section of the book to be a small biopic of Red, who was also a hero at the ice bridge of 1912 and who really deserves a book of his own!


Niagara, Here We Come!

Next weekend Jay and I will be touring the Falls area with artist friends Rose and Jim Gauss and Patrick the Bootlegger: catching some awesome fireworks over the Falls in Victoria Park, tasting some wine (at more than one vineyard, I’m sure) and ending the trip with a stroll through the Grand Canadian Steam Punk Exposition! Patrick has some surprises in store for us, I hear. One of them is “sticking us on the Maid of the Mist” and a walk out onto the bridge where locals tried desperately to rescue Burrell Hecock. If I have the courage to look down, I’ll try to pry my fingers off the railing long enough to take some photos of the river below. Yes, I’m afraid of heights. (But my husband is afraid of widths, so we make a good team.) During the visit, I hope to run into Dan Hill, grandson of the renowned stuntman/riverman Red Hill. Should be a hoot!

In the mean time, take a gander at my latest (but not quite finished) character poster: Jules McLaughlin, Voice of the Falls. She will be my fictional newspaper reporter who just happens to be there to do a feature on Ice Bridge Fashion Wear. I think she finds out that Grappling Irons are the latest must-have accessory.

Jules poster


The Bootlegger Shanty

Patrick Sirianni is a bootlegger/ vendor on the Ice Bridge who peddles giggle water (alcoholic drinks), quilts (alcoholic drinks that warm you up) and a Jorum of Skee (shot of whiskey). He calls his shanty “Blotto on the Bridge”, which means to get drunk as a skunk on the frozen river.

(For those of you who are taking me seriously, Patrick is a great guy from Niagara who has been helping me find photos and historical facts, as well as outlets to sell the book. He has my sincerest gratitude, which I demonstrate by Steam Punking him!)

Don’t forget: if you would like to give “Hecock, The Last Hour” as a gift for Christmas, you can order it on the blog on the Books & Goods page, along with posters and pins.

Sirianni the Bootlegger

It’s been 103 years!

Today marks the 103rd anniversary of the tragic ice bridge incident that is the basis of my graphic novel. For an excellent answer to the question: what IS an ice bridge?, you may want to visit Joel R Paradise on FaceBook. He has some incredible photos, some of which I have never seen. Also, a post card sent just days after the incident, of a photo taken just as the ice bridge broke loose! Connecting with history can be an exhilarating experience.

I’m working diligently on the third chapter and putting it all together for Volume I. The plans are to launch the published book on August 1, this year, at the Sheffield Bicentennial’s Pioneer Picnic August 1st.  It is held on the grounds of the Jabez Burrell homestead (Burrell Hecock’s forefather) and includes a pot-luck lunch, pie contest, tour, and a book signing with yours truly, as well as other activities. My sister-in-law, Marty, will be there to tell about the families of the first 25 settlers and how they relate through marriage.  All are welcome! I hope to see some of my Niagara friends and distant relatives there.

If you want to find out more, go to