A storied scow stuck in the Niagara River recently freed itself from the rocks that trapped it over 100 years ago, listing a little too close to a 167-foot drop for comfort.
During a powerfully tempestuous Halloween storm, the so-called Iron Scow — an elderly, barge-like boat that accidentally moored itself between Canada and the United States in 1918 — somehow "flipped on its side and spun around," according to Jim Hill, senior manager of heritage at the Niagara Parks Commission. This is the first time in more than a century that it has made any noticeable movements, and officials fear that the river's current could sweep it over Horseshoe Falls, which would be fun to watch but probably sad for scow nerds.
The Niagara Scow marooned itself in 1918, when it got disconnected from a tugboat and ran aground on a rocky outcropping about 650 feet from the edge of the falls. Two men were aboard at the time, necessitating a dramatic rescue. Dicey conditions precluded the possibility of sending out another vessel to retrieve the sailors, so U.S. Coast Guard officers had to cannon lifelines from a powerhouse onshore out to the scow. The cords kept getting tangled, but luckily "Niagara's most knowledgeable river man," a recently returned WWI vet named William "Red" Hill, Sr., was on hand to help. Hill maneuvered himself out over the water in a large canvas sling and separated the lines, allowing crews to safely reel in the two men. The scow, however, stayed put — until Thursday, that is.
"It's stuck where it is now and it could be stuck there for days or could be stuck there for years," Jim Hill told CBS. "It's anyone's guess."
Officials aren't quite sure what caused the boat to flee toward Canada. "It could have been the way the wind came down the river," Niagara Park CEO David Adames told CBC. "If it came down at a high enough gust, at that point in time, it might have hit the side of the rusted structure and it was enough to move it."
Park staff are reportedly monitoring the situation closely, so safety precautions can be taken at the Falls in the event the scow falls overboard. "It looks secure at the moment," Adames added, "however, if there's severe weather that comes along, it may shift it some more."