“SENDING VESSELS OVER NIAGARA FALLS. — There have been three such instances. The first was in 1827. Some men got an old ship — the Michigan — which had been used on Lake Erie, and had been pronounced unseaworthy. For mere wantonness they put aboard a bear, a fox, a buffalo, a dog and some geese and sent it over the cataract. The bear jumped from the vessel before it reached the rapids, swam toward the shore, and was rescued by some humane persons. The geese went over the falls, and came to the shore below alive, and, therefore, became objects of great interest, and were sold at high prices to visitors at the Falls. The dog, fox, and buffalo were not heard of or seen again.
“Another condemned vessel, the Detroit, that had belonged to Commodore Perry’s victorious fleet, was started over the cataract in the winter of 1841, but grounded about midway in the rapids, and lay there till knocked to pieces by the ice.
“A somewhat more picturesque instance was the sending over the Canada side of a ship on fire. This occurred in 1837. The vessel was the Caroline, which had been run in the interest of the insurgents in the Canadian rebellion. It was captured by Colonel McNabb, an officer of the Canada militia, and by his orders it was set on fire then cut loose from its moorings. All in flames, it went glaring and hissing down the rapids and over the precipice, and smothered its ruddy blaze in the boiling chasm below. This was witnessed by large crowds on both sides of the falls, and was described as a most magnificent sight. Of course there was no one on board the vessel.”
— From Barkham Burroughs’ Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, 1889