Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Niagara (Ferry), struck bridge, 18 Apr 1909
Full Text

In a terrific and thrilling struggle with the ice flows and the rapid current, the ferryboat NIAGARA was carried down the river this morning, and was partially wrecked against a pier of the International Bridge.
      The NIAGARA under command of Capt. George Lannigan, who took charge yesterday, started from the foot of Ferry street at 7:30 o'clock on the trip to Fort Erie. There was only one passenger aboard, Alden Ferguson of Fort Erie, but about 50 residents of Fort Erie were waiting on the Canadian dock to cross to Buffalo.
Hardly had the Niagara left the dock when she was in the grasp at the ice, and refusing to respond to the helm, was carried down stream, imbedded in heavy floes. The captain of the tug INTERNATIONAL, seeing the plight of the NIAGARA, started to her assistance and a line was passed aboard the NIAGARA before she reached the International bridge but the line parted, and the current swept the vessel rapidly toward the pier at the west end of the draw.
Spectators on the American and Canadian shores watched breathlessly to see the NIAGARA strike the pier and go to the bottom, as the collision appeared unavoidable, but the ice floe acted as a fender, and the NIAGARA slipped along past the pier.
she did not escape unscathed. as the wheelhouse and smokestack truck the bridge and were sheared off. Capt. Lannigan, seeing that the collision was inevitable, jumped below just in time to escape being raked overboard with the wreckage of the pilot house.
After passing the draw; the tug INTERNATIONAL again tried to rescue the now derelict NIAGARA, but the second attempt failed like the first. A third attempt was successful, the line held and the NIAGARA war grounded at the foot of Dufferin street, near the ruins at the Anderson elevator, burned recently.
The crew and passenger were landed safely at Bridgeburg. The 50 would be passengers waiting at the Fort Erie dock had to go to Bridgeburg and cross by the dummy train, which had to make a number of extra trips.
      The work of repairing the NlAGARA was commenced at once, and it is expected she will be back in service in three or four days
      Buffalo Evening News
      Monday, April 19, 1909

Item Type
Reason: struck bridge
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 42.88645 Longitude: -78.87837
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Emailwalter@maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.caWWW address
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Niagara (Ferry), struck bridge, 18 Apr 1909