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Famous Niagara River Shipwreck Slides Closer to Falls After Storm

By: Scott Way

The famous Iron Scow that's been perched close to Niagara Falls since 1918 may finally make its trip over the falls.

The 104 year old shipwreck of the famous Iron Scow is inching its way to the edge.

Last week a storm triggered a rise in water flow, which in turn pushed the famous rusting heap even closer to ledge over Niagara Falls.

Anyone who has visited North America's largest waterfall has seen the Iron Scow. The ship has been getting bombarded by the surging water on the Canadian side since its unusual arrival in 1918.

A scow is a general term for a flat-bottomed barge, and the name Iron Scow (the ship is also sometimes called Old Scow) was coined shortly after the ship broke loose from a tugboat while dredging upstream along the Niagara River.

The boat was owned by the Great Lakes Dredge And Docks Company, and after two men nearly died during the mishap, the ship was left to rust against a rock shoal some 700 metres from the edge.

The Iron Scow shifted briefly in 2019 as the remnants of Tropical Storm Olga created a surge in water levels in Lake Erie's East Basin, which in turn sent it 50 metres closer to its eventual demise.

Now it appears the rusty remains have broken into multiple parts.

Jim Hill, the senior manager of Heritage of Niagara Parks, said a recent storm on April 4th may have been the beginning of the end for Iron Scow.

"We're seeing the continued deterioration of the scow," Hill told Niagara Parks in a video. "A good portion of it is already gone."

View of the Toronto Power House with the scow in the background, 1922

While the boat is getting closer to the brink of the falls, Niagara Parks says it washing over isn't "considered a public safety concern." It's expected that the boat will continue to break away in parts, hopefully reducing the changes of a single event where the entire hull topples down.

"The scow has lived through decades of being pounded by the river and storms," Hill said. "Maybe it's just reaching the end of its life out there."

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