Heavy rains early in 1854 left the James River and the treacherous Balcony Falls in full flood. On 21 January the towrope of the canal boat, Clinton, snapped. Washed over the Mountain Dam and through successive falls, its passengers became stranded in the raging waters. Braving the dangerous river, Frank Padget, an enslaved boatman, skillfully led a crew of five rescuers who successfully saved dozens of the stranded passengers. While he was attempting to rescue the last passenger, Padget's craft was broken on the rocks. Unable to fight the rushing current, Padget drowned.