In 1759, during the Seven Years’ War this little known bay became the final resting place for some treasure-laden French ships. Well into the 19th century, their burnt hulls were still visible but, despite attempts by fortune hunters, the treasure remains lost beneath the river’s tumultuous waters.
The following was reported on the incident at Burnt Ship Bay by one of the newspapers in 1835:
RELICS OF THE OLDEN TIME. –[…]the borders of the Niagara river near the Falls were the theater of deep and absorbing interest in the old French war of 1760. During or about the year 1753, the French, who were then masters of Canada, built four or five war vessels at or near Navy Island in the Niagara, about two miles above the Falls. These were probably the first vessels ever built on the waters of the Upper Lakes. Fearful that they would fall into the hands of the British, two of the vessels, two or three years after they were built, during a hard press of the hostile troops, were taken by the French into Burnt Ship Bay, now a small cove lying on the west side of the lower end of Grand Island, and there abandoned and burnt. There they have since laid, sunk on the bottom in about twelve feet water, occasionally exposing, in low water, their timber heads, to the present day. They have attracted little notice, having been nearly forgotten in the antiquity of their history. […]
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