How now, old scow? Rusted out boat still clings to rock near the brink of Niagara Falls

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Published April 18, 2023 at 10:56 am

One of the most bizarre – and unintentional – attractions at Niagara Falls is 105-years-old, made from rusted-out, nature-worn corroded metal and frankly, while anyone can see it, no one can get anywhere near it.

Perhaps the biggest question for both locals and tourists is this: when is the Iron Scow, a century-old shipwreck trapped on a rock shoal a few hundred metres away from the brink of the Horseshoe Falls, going to shake loose and finally go over the falls.

The simple fact is this: the old scow is only 200 metres from shore but any nautical towing efforts would be pointless. The current is far too strong to try and dredge it out of the Niagara River.

The best course is obvious. Let nature takes its course and simply push it over Niagara Falls.

However, it’s been stuck there since it first got stranded on August 6, 1918 – almost 105 years ago. At the time, the two men stuck aboard the Iron Scow got rescued through twin efforts from both the Canadian and American sides.

Since then, it’s been stuck there despite the fact that millions and millions of liters of water have been pushing hard at its hull.

That said, twice in the past five weeks, it looks like nature might win and finally push that rusted-out hunk of metal over the brink.

On Oct. 31, 2019, a huge wind storm of 100 km/h (60 mph) pushed it so hard, it became dislodged, was overturned and driven by wind and water approximately 30 meters (100 feet) down river. Just as it looked like it would finally take the plunge after 101 year, the stubborn hunk of metal got grounded again.

Again, about this time last year, it moved further down the Niagara River. On the weekend of April 1, 2022, observers noticed the hull had split into two (or perhaps three) pieces and shifted even closer to the edge.

According to Jim Hill, senior manager of heritage for Niagara Parks, the ice boom at the mouth of the Niagara River on Lake Erie opened just a week prior, sending ice chunks down the river. That presumably drove enough water and ice down the river from Lake Erie to “hammer into what was left of the scow,” he explained.

Here, Hill explains it more completely.

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