Boat trapped for 101 years above Niagara Falls is all set to fall down any time now

The scow or rescue of its two occupants remained a folklore among the local Canadians for over a century

A boat that was trapped just above the Niagara Falls for 101 years on the Canadian side was freed in the storm that hit the region but officials are worried that it may roll down along the Horseshoe Falls that measure 51 meters in height.

Thursday's storm pushed the vessel free itself from the rocky perch, flip on its side and spun around, closer to the falls on the Canadian side, said Niagara Parks Commission, which has produced a video on Friday and released the footage.

The scow or rescue of its two occupants remained a folklore among the local Canadians for over a century. According to the timeline the Parks Commission published for the 100th anniversary, the scow used for dumping in a dredging operation about 1.6 km above the Horseshoe Falls, broke loose from its towing tug on August 6, 1918, with two rescuers on board named -- Gustav F. Lofberg, aged 51, and James H. Harris, aged 53.

It started drifting into the Niagara River's midstream and headed toward the Horseshoe Falls but the two men had the presence of mind to open the scow's bottom dumping doors, thus allowing water to flood its compartments. This slowed down the scow toward the Falls and soon grounded on some rocks opposite the large powerhouse, just 600 meters from the Horseshoe Falls.

Rescuing the two heroes took a while and coordination of Niagara Parks Police, Niagara Falls Fire and Police Departments and hydro workers of the powerhouse paid it off. A lifeline cannon was rushed to the scene by the US Coast Guard, and they were able to shoot a line from the roof of the powerhouse out to the stranded men. Harris and Lofberg tied the rope to a crude windlass they had constructed. Then a heavier rope was tied to the lifeline boat.

 iron scow
Rescue operation of two occupants stuck on the iron scow on Aug. 6, 1918 (Niagara Parks) Niagara Parks Govt of Ontario

At 9:30 pm that evening, a canvas sling suspended from a pulley called breeches buoy was placed along the heavy rope and the rescue team began to move it to the scow as a large crowd gathered on top to watch the rescue operation. When they were pulling the breeches buoy, it suddenly stopped due to a tangle in the ropes. It remained puzzling with no solution in the sight until the very early hours of the following morning when a recognized local hero William "Red" Hill Sr., a World War I veteran, offered to go out and correct the problem on the lines.

iron scow rescue operation
Rescue operation of two occupants stuck on the iron scow on Aug. 6, 1918 remained a overnight drama for many local spectators (Niagara Parks) Niagara Parks Govt of Ontario, Canada

Hill was Niagara's most knowledgeable riverman who had recently returned home after having been wounded and gassed in France during the First World War. Soon, Hill braced into the waters with a search light beam following him. He courageously went out in the breeches buoy to untangle the lines. When the sun came up, he went back for the second time to successfully untangle the lines.

As the major problem was solved, the two men were safely brought ashore, one by one with one hour gap. James Harris reached the powerhouse roof at 8:50 am, followed by Gustav Lofberg at 9:50 am. After rescuing the two men, another salvage operation to recover the scow was considered not feasible by the staff and the scow was left clinging to its rocky perch for the next 101 years until now.

iron scow
The iron scow remained an artifact for 101 years reflecting the history of Niagara Falls Niagara Parks Govt of Ontario, Canada

Though the iron scow remained a unique artifact of Niagara Falls history, the Niagara Parks Police, which is monitoring its movement, said that it may get stuck in another perch or fall down anytime. Its official James Hill, who made the video, shrugs off saying, "It's anyone's guess."