Muddy Run Falls

Note the width of the Whirlpool Rapids in the left photo.
It was taken before there was a major diversion of water over Niagara Falls.
The photo and enlargement are circa 1920.
Swept Through A Sewer
The Thrilling Experience of Blanche and Bertha Farrell

     A small stream, called Muddy Run, running through Niagara Falls, Ont., has its rise a little to the northwest of Drummondville in a springy swamp and never runs dry. As it is the only drainage of the high ridge of Drummondville and the surrounding country, heavy rains and sudden thaws, always make the creek, for the time being, a rushing torrent.

     A little west of Erie Avenue, the water from the creek enters a large sewer, about 30 inches wide and 4 feet high, which runs due east for about 460 feet, passing under Erie Avenue and several hotels and business places, the slops and refuse of which is generally emptied into it. It then makes a sharp curve and turns almost due north and runs under Bridge street and the Grand Trunk Railroad yards, emerging in the open stream fully a quarter of a mile from its inlet. Numerous obstructions are in the sewer caused by stone falling in from the various openings which had been made for connections.

     On Saturday, January 22nd, 1887, as the creek was beginning to rise on account of a thaw, at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon the town was thrown into a state of great excitement by the report that Blanche and Bertha Farrell had been swept through the sewer of Muddy Run, and were rescued at the mouth in an insensible condition just in time to save them from being carried over the precipice about 500 feet north of the railway Suspension (now steel arch) Bridge. At the time of the accident a number of children were playing on the banks of the creek. On one side some half dozen small boys were throwing chips and small pieces of boards into the water and watching their course as they were carried along by the rushing water.

     On the other side of the creek was a small group of girls watching the boys. Amongst them were little Blanche Farrell aged 10 years, with her youngest sister Bertha, only 4 years and 10 months old, the latter seated on a hand sleigh. From some cause the sleigh, with its precious burden, slid down into the swift current. No sooner had Bertha got into the stream than her elder sister Blanche jumped in after her, and both were swept into the sewer, about 40 feet distant, in which the current was running about 3 feet deep and at the rate of about 15 miles an hour. One of the other girls named Maggie Rose screamed at the top of her voice which soon brought a crowd.

     Learning the cause of the alarm, the crowd made all haste for the outlet of the sewer, which they reached none too soon, for scarcely had they reached the opening before Bertha shot out of the sewer, floating under the water, and before any could make a move was carried down nearly 150 feet and caught under a log. Mr. Wm. Briggs was the first to reach the spot and plunged in and rescued her. While some were looking after Bertha, others were watching for Blanche who came floating out about 15 seconds after, and Adam Dennis plunged into the stream and caught her about 30 feet from the mouth of the sewer. Both children were from appearances lifeless, not even a breath nor a beat of the heart being discernible. The men who had by this time gathered there made every effort to resuscitate them, and observing signs of returning vitality, carried them to a house close by, where Drs. Oliver and Sayers succeeded in restoring the little ones to consciousness. Blanche was the first to recover, and the first thing she said was, Where is Bertha? I tried to save her, but she got away from me. When told that Bertha was all right she felt more at ease. Being the eldest she realized the danger more keenly and her nervous system was for the time being completely prostrated. Bertha was more composed; being so young, she did not comprehend the danger she had escaped. The children passed under ground fully a quarter of a mile, and were in the water at least ten minutes, most of the time submerged. Yet, strange as it may appear, there were but five bruises on their bodies.

Copyright © 2007 by Scott A. Ensminger.
This information may not be reproduced without written permission.

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