A little bit of Google-sleuthing has revealed that two kids did in fact die when their boat went over Niagara Falls in June 1913.
Niagara Falls, NY Two Youths Drown, June 1913
NIAGARA RAPIDS WHIRL TWO BOYS TO THEIR DEATHS.
LADS ARE AT MERCY OF RUSHING WATERS WHEN ROPE, ATTACHED TO SCOW, BREAKS NEAR FALLS.
YOUNGSTERS SHAKE HANDS WHEN FATE IS REALIZED.
FRANTIC CROWDS, HELPLESS ON BANK, WEEP AND PRAY AS BODIES DISAPPEAR IN WHIRLPOOL.
Niagara Falls, N.Y., June 22. — DONALD ROSCOE, 10 years old, and HUBERT MOORE, 9 years old, both of this city, went to their death in a small boat late this afternoon in the Whirlpool Rapids, while hundreds of men watched helpless from the shore.
The boys were playing in a flat bottom scow, half a mile above the rapids, when the rope holding the boat broke and they were carried out into the stream and down the river.
Up to the time the boat reached midstream it made little progress. After it passed the bridges the current carried it rapidly toward the rapids.
The bridgemen did not see the boat until it was close at hand. Then they called fire headquarters and two companies of firemen were sent to save the lads if possible. Hundreds swarmed to the river banks in a vain effort at rescue.
The boys, realizing their fate, stood up as the boat neared the edge of the roaring whirlpool and shook hands in farewell. A second later they were engulfed by a freak wave in the rapids. The boat shot out of sight. One of the boys was seen for a moment struggling in the rushing waters and then disappeared.
Never at any time was there a chance to save the boys. The firemen could do nothing. There were scores of passengers in the cars along the Gorge route and they watched the hopeless struggle of the boys. The hundreds who had gathered at the waters edge could offer no aid. Men became hysterical in their powerlessness and women passengers on the cars wept and prayed in distress at the plight of the lads, who were standing in the boat calling for help.
As the boat neared Swift drift, the first breaking of the river from the calm upper reaches to the rapids, it began to rock. The boys sat down to keep from tumbling into the stream.
Then, caught in Swift drift, the boat went racing under the cantilever bridge. Whatever hope the boys had of rescue was lost. Yes, they knew the fight was now all their own, as no one could help them.
As they passed under the bridge they ceased their cries for help. The two mates turned toward each other and calmly shook hands, then with the boat in the tumbling waters thew themselves on the seats of the scow and clung with all their strength.
The craft held to its course until it encountered a huge wave which crested at a height of forty feet. It seemed to dive into the very middle of the wave and when it came again to view it was bottom up. A second or two later, a little head was seen bobbing on a wave below for a moment and then was seen no more.
The bodies of the boys are in the whirlpool and may never be recovered. There was a quantity of driftwood whirling there this afternoon and the bodies may be beaten to a pulp, as were those of Mr. and Mrs. Eldridge Stanton of Toronto and Burrell Heacock of Cleveland, the victims of the ice bridge tragedy of Feb. 4, 1912, which were battered by cakes of ice.
The point where the boat broke loose is about a half mile from the beginning of the rapids. If drifted down in about twelve minutes, passing under the lower steel arch bridge at 4:55 o’clock.
The ROSCOE boy’s mother is very ill and was not told of the tragedy. The boys were member of well-known families of Niagara Falls. They had been chums for several years. Just before dark tonight watchers on the bank saw the bodies in the rapids, but could not reach them.