28.2 C
Niagara Falls
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Exploring History: The ice jam of April 1909
NOTL Museum photo.

This photograph shows the ice jam pressing against the wharf and range light house while an unidentified man and boy are standing on the ice in the foreground. In the annual report for that year, the commissioners for Queen Victoria Park in Niagara described the early months of 1909 as “notable for some of the most phenomenal physical occurrences … within the last half-century.” Unusually low water levels in the first few months resulted in an ice jam at the head of Goat Island “thus practically closing off the American falls.” No damage occurred until the month of April when the highest water levels were attained and a windstorm of “very high velocity” caused the breaking up of the ice fields to swiftly float down the rapids and lower gorge, blocking the mouth of the river. Destruction followed along the shoreline on both sides of the river. It wasn’t until 1964 when a “boom” was placed in the upper part of the river, near Lake Erie, to limit the flow of ice. In 2019, many may remember the ice walls that grew over the barriers in Fort Erie. This was probably fairly similar to what had happened in 1909 as well as other years when an ice jam occurred. Perhaps the lack of a real winter also saved us from any ice jam this year.

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