Niagara Gazette

May 1, 2013

Rapids claim many lives over the years

By Don Glynn
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Scores of area residents and visitors survived close calls or even perished in the Niagara River rapids over the decades but until this past weekend no one ever piloted a jet boat from Youngstown to the falls.

Two partners in the Fox BoyZ Marina, Youngstown, however, completed that perilous journey in their jet boats Saturday and emerged with hardly a scratch. They disclaim the “stunters” label, insisting they were simply testing the waters for their new enterprise, “Niagara Jet Adventures.” Still ahead are the permits and approvals for any commercial boat operations along the international waterway.

The swift currents have taken their toll, as the records prove.

Longtime local residents remember Aug. 29, 1975, when a 37-foot raft, carrying 29 passengers, capsized south of the Whirlpool.Three persons drowned. A few managed to reach shore while the all the others were rescued.That happened on the 12th test run of the craft.

In 1861, the financially-strapped Maid of the Mist Co. sold its boat to a Montreal firm on the condition that the vessel be delivered to Lake Ontario, For a fee of $500, Capt. Joel Robinson and his two crew members safely navigated the entire length of the rapids to the Queenston landing. The only damage was the loss of the smokestack.