A Powerful Storm Dislodged a Cargo Ship That’s Been Stuck on Niagara Falls for 101 Years
It was a dark and stormy night at Niagara Falls this past Halloween—so stormy, in fact, that a cargo ship was dislodged from where it had been stuck for 101 years.
On August 6, 1918, the iron scow—a flat-bottomed cargo vessel—got detached from its tugboat and began a steady, terrifying drift toward the edge of Horseshoe Falls. According to Ontario's Niagara Parks Commission, the two crewmen aboard, Gustav Lofberg and James Harris, opened the dumping doors, flooding the bottom compartments with enough water to slow the ship.
The scow soon ran into some rocks, saving the men from certain death but simultaneously stranding them in the middle of the perilous upper rapids. During the ensuing rescue mission, a breeches buoy—a sling attached to a pulley—was fastened to ropes, which a cannon shot out to the scow.
Progress came to a grinding halt when the ropes got twisted, and Ontario riverman and World War I veteran William “Red” Hill Sr. volunteered to swim out to the buoy and untangle the lines. He succeeded on his second attempt, and the two men were pulled to safety by the following morning.
The scow, on the other hand, spent the next century lodged among the rocks. According to USA Today, the Halloween storm was so severe that the ship escaped its craggy prison and sped downriver. It ran aground again just 150 feet from its original location.
Niagara Parks posted a video of the scow on Twitter on Friday, explaining that the badly deteriorated scow is now flipped on its side.
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
“It could be stuck there for days, or it could be stuck there for years,” Jim Hill, the Niagara Parks Commission’s senior manager of heritage, says in the video. “It’s anyone’s guess.”
The story of the iron scow might not be the only thing you didn’t know about Niagara Falls; dive into 11 more fascinating facts here.
[h/t USA Today]