This Thursday’s harsh weather pushed a boat stuck on rocks above Niagara Falls for more than a century from the rocks and closer to the falls on the Canadian side. It’s the first time it’s moved any appreciable distance for more than a century, unmoored by high wind and heavy rains.
In a video produced by the Niagara Parks Commission on Friday, an official, Jim Hill, said the barge, while not currently moving, appears to have
“flipped on its side and spun around.”
The story of how the barge came to rest just above the falls is fascinating and part of local lore. According to Hill, senior manager of heritage with the Parks Commission, It involves the rescue of two men from nearby Buffalo.
According to CNN affiliate WGRZ,
In 1918, a vessel known as a dumping scow became disconnected from its tug boat — with two men aboard — during a dredging operation… the scow got stranded in the Niagara River, some 650 yards shy of Horseshoe Falls, one of three separate waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls.
Local law enforcement agencies began scrambling to rescue the two men, James Harris and Gustav Lofberg.
“They had to figure out how to get these guys off of this, and no one was going out there in a boat of any kind.”
A boat rescue wasn’t considered safe or even feasible to attempt. Instead, buoys were launched — but the lines became tangled.
With the help of a courageous World War I vet named William “Red” Hill, the lines were sorted out and the men were finally rescued the next day.
While the iron boat deteriorated badly over the century it’s been exposed to the elements, the scow has remained tightly fixed to a rock outcropping since August 1918.
The Niagara Parks staff is continuing to monitor, in the event it moves again. Hill says the remains might be stuck in their new perch
“for days or for years. It’s anyone’s guess.”
The severe weather conditions experienced yesterday have caused the iron scow, which has remained lodged in the powerful upper rapids above the Falls for over a century, to shift significantly from its position.— Niagara Parks (@NiagaraParks) November 1, 2019
History of the Iron Scow Rescue: https://t.co/9Pehx8dabS pic.twitter.com/AG4nfLrzXx
(Photo, Niagra Falls Twitter; via CNN)