Ice jam on Niagara River, 1955.
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Photo 1- Niagara-on-the-Lake dock
The ice was still piled high at Niagara-on-the-Lake today, and there was no sign that it was ready to move out. This picture, taken last Thursday, shows the dock tilted at a crazy angle and ripped apart. The shelter is also off base, and the choked-up ice rises 10 to 15 feet above.
Photo 2-Mountain of ice edges forward
Ontario Provincial Police Corporal Walter Hauschild stands dwarfed beside a huge pile of ice which has spilled over the banks of the Niagara river, at Queenston. The ice destroys everything in its path. Trees snapped like matchsticks, and houses crumbled like decks of cards. Today the huge jam in the river was stilled, but it showed no signs of breaking up.
Photo 3- Tug boat at Queenston
The Good News is bad news, at least for its owners as the 180-foot tug was ripped from its mooring at Queenston yesterday and carried four miles down the Niagara River by the ice. The tug is shown here as it sits at the mercy of the slow moving ice, a few feet off the Canadian shore.
Photo 4- American guards
Officials are taking no chance on looters during the havoc caused by the ice jam in the Lower Niagara. Here two American airmen guard Pierce's Marine Corp. premises at Youngstown, where boats worth $500,000 are stored. They are members of 34th Crash Rescue Boat Flight, USAF, under Capt. Thomas Shepherd.
Photo 5- St. Francis Chapel
St. Francis Chapel at Stella Niagara Seminary, between Lewiston, N.Y., and Youngstown, N.Y., is left on little island by ice jam. Historic building was used by British during war of 1812. Water broke through and surrounded it Thursday noon, but dropped again Friday. Ice is still jammed against it.
Photo 6- Flooded cottages
When an ice barrier on the American side of the Niagara River gave way Thursday, this is one of four cottages which was swept away and flooded by Stella Niagara Seminary, including riverside Chapel of St. Francis, between Lewiston and Youngstown.
Photo 7- Wrecked house - Youngstown
Year-round home of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Winchester, two miles south of Youngstown, N.Y., was wrecked in less than an hour by crushing ice. Home was valued at $15,000. All household items were saved, and here volunteers carry a refrigerator up the river bank from the home.
Photo 8- Winchesters' motorboat
The Winchesters' motorboat was upset and crushed by the ice which choked the river. Boat is the Donna Lynn, named after the Winchesters' two children.
Photo 9- Mr. and Mrs. George Cowie with children
Ice-choked river destroyed home, job.
Photo 10- Wrecked Buildings Still Ice-Locked
Although the ice is rapidly streaming out of the lower Niagara, the wrecked Cavanaugh and Cowie cottages and the Queenston dock buildings were still locked in the ice mass along the shore late yesterday afternoon, The cottages are in the foreground and the ruins of the dock structure in the background. April 5, 1955.
Review Photo by Bud Williams
Thousands of sightseers converge on Niagara River
By CRAIG SWAYZE Standard Reporter
YOUNGSTOWN N.Y.--The spotlight shifted from the jammed river to jammed highways this afternoon as thousands of people descended onto Niagara River vantage points to look at the spectacular ice jam.
Deputies of the Niagara County Sheriff's office said they will have all available extra officers on duty over the weekend to cope with the large crowds expected.
"Even at the peak of the summer season, at Niagara Falls, we seldom had to cope with crowds this big," said one officer.
On the Canadian side of the river the roads were also jammed with sightseers' autos, and Ontario Provincial Police are contemplating calling out extra officers for the weekend.
Meanwhile here at Youngstown million dollars' worth of yachts are expected to be crushed by the ice. The yachts are moored in boatsheds on the river bank, and their only way of exit is via the riven Some of the smaller yachts have been lifted out of towage yards.
Members of the 13th Crash Rescue Boat Flight of the U.S. Air Force under Capt. Thomas Shepherd have set up security guards along the waterfront in Youngstown to stop looting.
Col. Lauren Olmstead, district engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo area said: "I feel nothing can be done at this time to loosen the ice. We have surveyed and studied the entire situation from the falls to the lake in conjunction with Canada experts and we all feel that nothing can be done. "We must just wait until nature takes its course.
Col. Wendell P. Trower of Chicago, chief engineer of the north central command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who made a special trip here to survey the ice jam, said: "The use of explosives is of no avail here. I have done considerable research on ice jams during the past number of years, and I am of the firm opinion that dynamiting nor bombing will do any good.
Col. Trower estimated the thickness of the ice to range from 30 to 40 feet below the surface of the water. The two officers conferred at Youngstown with Mayor Asten McEvoy, of Lewiston and Mayor Henry C. Yale, of Youngstown and Representative William E. Millar of the 43th Congressional District.
Mayor Yale told Col. Trower that he wanted the army to do something quickly, even if meant depth-charging the ice. Mayor Yale estimates close to a million dollars damage on this side of the river.
The ice has already reached the top of the old Honeymoon Bridge abutment, meaning it was rising as high as it was in 1938.
The water level dropped in the middle of the morning, but started to rise again in the early afternoon.
Historic little shrine saved from icy waters
YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y. (Staff) --The historic little Shrine of St. Francis has been spared.
Waters which yesterday surged about its stained glass windows on the banks of the Niagara River midway between Youngstown and Lewiston have receded, and left the tiny structure high and day amidst jumbled chunks of ice and debris.
The chapel which was used by the British troops, during the war of 1812 was surrounded by water at noon Thursday when a barrier of ice along the shoreline at Stella Niagara Seminary gave way.
Water and ice swirled about the structure/ throughout the night, but dropped sharply early today. However the building is still isolated on a small island of dry land in the midst of the flooding river.
Home, job lost at Queenston
"It seems almost impossible that,in a few minutes that mass of ice could take away our home, my job, and all the machinery for the job," says George Cowie, whose home was one of two smashed under the ice jam near the Queenston dock Thursday.
Mr. Cowie is also operator of the crane at the nearby sand dock. The crane has disappeared completely under 45 feet of ice. The big sand pile nearby was swept away by the flood and ice.
But the main thing was that the Cowie family were all safe. Most of their more valuable furniture was saved from their doomed home by Queenston volunteer fireman and other helpers.
Although they are safe and comfortable at the home of Mrs. Cowie's sister, Mrs. John Dinning, 81 Rykert St., St. Catharines, it was a close call for the family. They almost were trapped in their home,
Mr. Cowie related how he left home late Wednesday to go to the hospital to tell his neighbor, Leo Cavanaugh, about damage by the ice to the Cavanaugh home. At that time, water had risen enough to float rescue boats to the front door of the homes just upstream from the Queenston steamer landing. But Mr. Cowie didn't dream that the condition would become worse; he simply wanted to keep Mr. Cavanaugh informed of the flood so he wouldn't worry too much about exaggerated reports.
"When I got home the water had risen a little more and was starting to make puddles on the floor of the house," related Mr. Cowie. To get to the house I had to drive my car over a little dip in the road, and at that spot the water was a little deeper.
"My wife kept hurrying about trying to get together as many things as she could to take out of foe house and we were there about 80 minutes. Then there was the most awful roar. The ice jam all leaved, and water rushed over, and the ice piled up again. There was a surge of water that raised the level in the house by a foot in just a few seconds.
"I shouted at my wife to get going or we'd be trapped, and we all ran out and got in the car and just backed out as the later rose over the floorboards of the car.
"We were lucky to get out"
Mr. Cowie said he had come from England three years ago and was engineer on the crane. Owner of the crane and sand business, a Toronto firm had constructed his home for him.
"It was a fine home-five rooms, full basement and all the conveniences. The firemen got out all things- stove, refrigerator, television set, beds, and so on, but dishes, bedding and some other stuff is still in there. The washing machine was in the basement, and we couldn't get at it. The way that ice is pushing everything ahead of it I'm afraid it may collapse the basement and carry the washing machine away with it," said Mr.Cowie.
The end of the 60-foot boom of his crane would have been about 15 feet above the normal level of the river, he said. The whole crane has since disappeared under the ice.
- Media Type:
- Item Type:
- Articles and photographs of ice jam on lower Niagara River in spring 1955 and 1963, published by local newspapers (St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Advance and Niagara Falls Review); different authors and photographers.
Note: Photo 3 was dated 'May 1955' by donor - further research has determined that it was actually from the ice jam in 1963, and was mis-labeled.
- The ice jam in 1955 destroyed the dock shelter and ticket office on Queenston Docks.
- Date of Original:
- Spring 1955
- Local identifier:
- QC00491 and QC00514
- Language of Item:
- Geographic Coverage:
- Huggins, Jean A. E. (1895-1989)
- Copyright Statement:
- Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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