North Tonawanda, population 33,262, is located at the confluence of the Erie Barge Canal, Tonawanda Creek and the Niagara River on the south-western edge of Niagara County. Originally the land was owned by the Neutral Indians and Seneca of the Iroquois Confederation. The land was secured by treaty with the Seneca nation and early land developers recognized it's unique position in North America. The Niagara Frontier was called the "bloody ground" because of the many Indian battles fought here and the land did not become open to European settlement until after the War of 1812. The Erie Barge Canal was begun when it was determined the Erie Canal would enter the Niagara River at Tonawanda Creek providing access to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. North Tonawanda's industrial development began when the Erie Canal was completed in 1825. Once the Michigan forests were opened to logging, North Tonawanda rivaled Chicago as the lumber capital of the world. When the lumber fields were depleted and the railroads pushed further west, new industries of steel, paper, chemicals and amusement park entertainment manufacturing set up shop due to the established bulk transportation infrastructure. Instead of moving on in the westward expansion of the United States; immigrants from Italy, Poland, Germany, Hungary and other countries stayed to provide the manpower for the developing industries. Present day North Tonawanda while not the bustling industrial town it once was, has embarked on a new course to highlight the expansion of the United States and continue to build North Tonawanda's commercial base with historic and cultural tourism.