NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO (WIVB) – A rain and wind storm on Halloween night managed to move an 80 foot barge which had been lodged in the upper Niagara rapids for more than a century.
The barge, known for years as “the scow” turned in a different direction and floated another 50 yards downstream before becoming lodged again about a quarter mile from the brink of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
“I remember coming up here in the 1960’s with my parents, driving up from Fort Erie and looking at what we called the barge,” said Kevin Poveromo, a Buffalo resident who came Monday to see the new location. “I was thinking as a young boy, ‘Gee, I want to be around here when it either lets loose , goes over the Falls or whatever, whatever happens, I was just interested to see.”
Th story of how it got in the rapids in the first place is fascinating, according to Jim Hill, heritage director of the Niagara Parks Commission in Ontario. “It’s always been a nice story to tell because of the happy ending.”
In 1918 it was being used as a platform to carry sand upstream, but broke free from a tugboat one day. “On board were two men who must have been paralyzed with fear knowing exactly what was ahead of them, but they did have the presence of mind enough to open the dumping doors of the bottom of the scow that flooded the scow’s compartments causing it to slow down and gradually ground on the rocks,” said Sherman Zavitz, Niagara Falls, Ontario historian.
From the top of the former Toronto Hydro generation station on Niagara Parkway, the US Coast Guard used a cannon to fire a rescue line out across the rapids to reach the two men who were still stranded out on the barge.
There are photos of that rescue 101 years ago in Sherman Zavitz book titled, ‘It Happened at Niagara”
“Today of course, such a rescue would be achieved easily and quickly. You bring in a helicopter,” said Zavitz
Where and when it goes from here is anyone’s guess, according to Hill. “We’re monitoring it, our police are monitoring it, if there’s a safety issue and even if it could go over, it probably wasn’t gonna go far.”