The Old Scow
April 12, 2019
The Old Scow

Niagara Falls is not only rich in natural beauty and breathtaking scenery, it is also steeped in history and tales of great adventure. One such story is that of The Old Scow or Old Barge.The terrifying tale took place on the afternoon of August 6, 1918.The Scow, crewed by deckhands, James H. Harris and Gustav Loftberg, (who were 40 and 51 years old respectively) was moored to a nearby tugboat, when suddenly the mooring cables snapped. The rushing water immediately began carrying the Scow, with Harris and Loftberg inside, to the crest of the Falls. Somehow, both men managed to hoist the anchor (which weighed close to one ton) overboard but this only helped to slow the boat’s progress towards the Falls.As they neared the brink of the Falls, a brilliant idea struck one of the deckhands - that they should flood the boat in order to sink it. This stroke of genius proved to save their lives and in opening one of the bottom dumping doors the boat did indeed sink.Despite narrowly escaping a terrifying fate their ordeal was not yet over as Harris and Loftberg still had to be rescued from the sunken vessel.Rescue workers, including the famous William “Red” Hill Sr, worked by searchlight all throughout the night trying to rescue the pair. Finally, after one failed attempt, a rescue line was fired out to the sunken Scow and Harris and Loftberg were rescued at 8.30am the following morning.The Old Scow remains there to this day, for all to see, caught in the rapids at the brink of the Falls.

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