NIAGARA FALLS, ON — In many respects, it hardly looks like a boat anymore. But that's not stopping folks from flocking to see the iconic scow, which has been perched above the world famous Niagara Falls for more than 100 years.
In fact, its become a whole new kind of draw in what is normally the off season for one of the world's top tourist destinations.
Reporters from around the globe have been inquiring on this latest chapter of a legendary story that has been part of the lore of Niagara for over a century, according to Jim Hill, Senior Manager of Heritage for Niagara Parks.
"The BBC talked to us earlier today," Hill told WGRZ-TV.
Many local residents know the incredible story of how the scow, commonly referred to as a barge, came to be stuck above the falls in 1918, when it broke loose and began drifting perilously close to the cataract.
The men on board, facing a near certain death with no means of escape in the raging waters, had the presence of mind to sink it… and then await two days to be rescued via a cable fired out to the craft.
For more than a century it sat undisturbed, rusting away, until powerful forces of nature reared their heads during a Halloween night storm.
It is thought that near hurricane force wind gusts, combined with churning waters, moved the scow some 150 feet while flipping it over on its side.
Still a Tourist Draw
What still clearly looked like a rusty boat in the middle of the Niagara River above the Falls for the last century, now more resembles a pile of old iron.
"A week ago it still resembled a scow or a barge or a boat but it certainly has now lost that effect," said Hill.
However, that does not mean it has lost its appeal to visitors and curiosity seekers.
"We were watching the news and had seen where the barge had moved," said Neil Simmons of Lexington, Kentucky who had come to Niagara Falls with his family to attend a karate tournament.
The Simmons family knew nothing about the background story of the scow, but knew enough to feel the need to cross the border and investigate themselves.
"Just being across the water we wanted to get over here and see this big part of history," Simmons said.
John Lee of St. Catherines, Ontario, grew up in Niagara falls and has lived in Southern Ontario his entire life. As such, he has seen the relic countless times, but never like this.
"Absolutely never...you couldn't even imagine something like this happening I thought it would just rot away over time, and whatever little pieces were left would go over," Lee said. "That is something else!"
Will it Moving Further?
Of course, now that it has shifted for the first time ever, many wonder if what remains of the rusting hulk will now find its way over the precipice of the Falls, still some 2,000 feet away.
"Well, if you had asked me a week ago if it would ever move I would have 'no'... so you can't really say never in this case," said Hill.
However, he added, "Past that bit of white water that it's been stuck in for 101 years the river widens out again, and there's a big flat rock surface so the idea that it's going to go in one big piece and keep going is pretty hard to say."
Hill noted that the scow has actually been disappearing for "several decades" as the elements of time and weather take its continued toll on the metal craft.
"This is one of the great epic stories of Niagara, and will always be," said Hill, noting that what we are witnessing now is, in some respect, just its latest chapter.