Before the War of 1812, an 80-foot-long ladder was constructed directly at the base of the American falls. It was destroyed during the War of 1812. Three years later, at the request of Augustus Porter, Parkhurst Whitney built the first stairs at this location in 1818, echoing a similar staircase on the Canadian side. In 1820, Whitney started regular ferry service with small rowboats, to carry passengers across the river. Many Africans Americans escaped to freedom on the ferry. The dramatic escape of “Martha” and her husband, as they were chased down a steep staircase to the Ferry Landing by a would-be band of bounty hunters, is among the most notable. Accounts also exist to document Nancy Berry’s (much less dramatic) ferry ride, as well as Patrick Sneed’s unsuccessful attempt to cross the river at this location. John Morrison, head waiter at the Cataract House, often ferried people across the river himself.