top of page

Trapped in Time: The Stranded Barge of Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, famed for its roaring waters and breathtaking mist, holds an intriguing tale just a few hundred feet upstream - a tale of adventure, quick thinking, and survival against the odds. The focal point of this incredible story is a rusty relic known as the 'Old Scow', a steel barge that has been stranded above Niagara Falls since 1918.

Niagara Falls Horseshoe Falls old Scow Canada

The Old Scow isn't part of a deliberate exhibit, but rather the unintended relic of a thrilling escape that unfolded over a century ago.


On August 6, 1918, this 80-feet long barge broke away from its towing tug, its occupants hurtling uncontrollably towards Niagara Falls. The rushing waters tugged relentlessly at the distressed vessel carrying sand and rocks, urging it closer to the roaring maw of the falls. It looked as if a disastrous end was inevitable, with the imminent destruction of the boat and potential loss of its crew.


Yet, the brave men aboard - Gustav Lofberg and James Harris - defied these impending odds. Using their sharp minds and a fearless spirit, they undertook a last-ditch attempt to alter the fate of their runaway barge.


They hastily opened the dumping hatches on the barge, allowing the churning waters of Niagara River to rush in and around the vessel. By doing so, the water increased the weight of the barge and ground it to a halt, securing it on the river's rocky bottom just above the waterfall.


As onlookers watched breathlessly from the riverbanks, the Canadian Niagara Power Company staged a dramatic 17-hour rescue operation, eventually bringing the men to safety.


And so, the Old Scow has remained there ever since - a symbol of survival, of humanity's grit and the miracles born from quick thinking. It can still be spotted upstream from the Canadian side, etched starkly against the waters, stubbornly refusing to yield to the falls.


This historical maritime mishap draws not just thrill-seekers and history buffs, but also offers every visitor an insightful slice of local heritage, serving as a powerful testament to human resourcefulness in the face of overwhelming odds. While it continues to defy the odds and weather the elements, the Old Scow offers a poignant backstory to enhance the mesmerizing view of Niagara Falls.


Make sure to seek out this unique historical artifact on your next visit to the world-renowned falls and remember to raise a salute to the bravery of these men who dared to face down the power of the waters over a hundred years ago.

bottom of page