In the 19th century, two ships were thrown down the Niagara Falls

20 junio 2007

At the beginning of the 19th century, some years before dardevils began to jump in their barrels, two big ships were sent over the Niagara Falls, presenting a scene never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. The first one, an old schooner loaded with animals, was dropped down in 1827 as part of a show performed by hotel owners of the area. The second one, an american steamboat named 'SS Caroline', was realeased by Canadian troops during the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837. This are the stories:

1. Schooner 'Michigan'

On September 8th 1827, with a crowd estimated at 10,000, the schooner "Michigan" was released into the currents of the upper Niagara River and drifted towards the Falls. Some months before, a group of hotel owners had purchased the old ship and decided to sent it over the Falls decorated as a pirate ship. Their intetion was to draw attention to the area and to encourage travellers to visit Niagara Falls. The day of the show, they placed several animals on board including a buffalo, two small bears, two raccoons, a dog and a goose. The two bears, which were loose on the schooner, jumped off into the rapids where they swam to Goat Island. The only animal to survive the fall was the goose.

2. The 'Caroline' affair

The Upper Canadian Rebellion broke out in 1837 as result of dissatisfaction among the people of Canada with the British Government. At the end of the year, a group of rebels took refuge on the small Navy Island on the Canadian side of the Niagara River and declared themselves the Republic of Canada. American sympathizers supplied them with money, provisions, and arms via the 'SS Caroline', a small American steamboat which moved freely through the river.

On December 29, Canadian loyalist Colonel Sir Allan MacNab commanding a party of militia, crossed the international boundary and seized the Caroline, towed her into the current, set her afire, and cast her adrift over Niagara Falls, after killing one American named Amos Durfee in the process. The Caroline in flames as it approached the great falls must have been an unforgettable sight for inhabitants on both sides that evening, and was later painted by many artists as you can see in the images illustrating this post.

More info and sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

See also: Niagara Falls Daredevils