The shipwreck caught on a rock shoal perilously close to the edge in 1918 with two Niagara Falls Power Company employees trapped on board. Uncover the amazing story of the rescue mission that unfolded to save them and visit the wreck that is still there to this day.
Known as the Niagara Scow or “The Old Scow” – it is the name given to a wreck of a small scow that came dangerously close to plunging over the edge of the largest of the Falls – The Horseshoe Falls with it’s two crewmen still onboard. The wreck is still visible today and you can view it upstream from the Falls.
Legend has it that on August 6, 1918 Gustave Lofberg and Frank Harris were aboard the scow dredging up sand banks from the Niagara River upstream of the waterfall. When tugboat captain John Wallace brought the Hassayampa over to bring the scow back to shore, it broke loose and began floating downriver rapidly towards the falls.
Whilst there are conflicting reports about whether Lofberg and Harris were actually able to release the false bottom of the scow to dump their load of silt and sand, what is known for certain is that the boat got caught on a rock shoal just 766 meters from the edge of the falls. This left the two Niagara Falls Power Company employees not only stranded but in a very precarious situation in raging torrents of water just mere meters from what would have been certain death had they of gone overboard.
What is reported to have happened next is Lofberg tied a rope between himself and the stricken scow as a safety precaution, incase he were to fall overboard whilst the scow was still beached, whilst his college Harris tied one between a free barrel and himself.
Due to the dangerous position both of them were in sending in a rescue boat was out of the question, though the US coastguard eventually managed to send a lifeline over to the barge and both men made it back safely, though some 17 hours after they first realised they were in trouble. It was a long and complex mission as there were many complications with the original attempts to rescue both men. Infact, the man dubbed the hero of the day for his heroic part in the rescue mission Mr William “Red” Hill Sr was later awarded the Carnegie Medal for his efforts that day.
At present the scow still remains in place to this day, highly visible, caught on the shoal just out of reach of the Niagara Falls. It has been of interest to visitors to Niagara Falls since 1918 when it was first abandoned and is open to the public for free. It can be viewed from both the American and Canadian side of the Falls and a commemorative plaque is now in place on the Canadian side explaining the full history of what happened that day. Visiting is well worth a visit if you are a fan of shipwrecks and want to learn more about this fascinating story.