Info Panel
You are here:   Home  /  disasters  /  1893: Louisville’s Big Four Bridge collapses, 40 die

1893: Louisville’s Big Four Bridge collapses, 40 die


In my browsing of bridge history in Louisville, I learned that the Big Four Bridge, which once carried trains across the Ohio River between Louisville and Jeffersonville, collapsed during construction.

About 40 people were killed.

I read through the next-day story in the Courier-Journal and it was so interesting. And ridiculously long! There’s no byline on it, but it appears that several reporters went out and an editor perhaps cobbled together the long story.

I transcribed the story in Word, and it was 20 pages. No newspaper today would carry a story that long. As I was transcribing, I could think of so many different ways to present it (sidebars, pull-quotes, etc.). There were no photos in the paper, but only drawings. The University of Louisville archive has several photos, which I’ll also share.

One of the challenges with reading and transcribing the original is that the version in the digital archive is obviously very old, and words get blurred with age. I had to guess on the spelling of some names, and some words were just unreadable. I added a “(?)” after names or words I was unsure of.

Here are the originals:

As you can see, it’s very gray. If you want to try to read them, go for it.

But it’s a bit easier if you read my version.

Note the difference in newspaper style from then and now. There is no economy of words in the older version, and a lot of guesswork. There was obviously no HIPAA back then, as you can see. All the names and injuries are listed as given by the doctors.

There are some really interesting stories in there, though. Scotty Moran’s premonition, Harry Lee’s high dive, rescue efforts, the coroner, McCullough, fighting with the Jeffersonville coroner. Good stuff. Enjoy!

I tried to stay true to the style and punctuation of the original as best I could.

Looking toward Louisville  at the Big Four Railroad Bridge the day after two large spans collapsed during construction. Fifty men were dropped into the icy Ohio River on December 15, 1893, 40 of them died.
Howard, James E., 1875-1956 (photographer)
Howard Steamboat Museum Collection

DEATH UNDID THE BUILDING

Two Spans, Weakened By the Wind, Fall From the Jeffersonville Bridge.

The First Drops in the Morning, Carrying Down With It Over Two-Score Victims.

A Few Miraculously Escape and Some Still Survive Their Terrible Injuries.

The Second Span Crashes Down During a Stiff Gust Early Last Evening.

No One On the Structure At the Time, But the Financial Loss Will Be Much Heavier.

Bridge Officials Deny That There Was Anything Faulty in the Work, But Others Dubious.

THE GREAT LOSS BOTH TO LIFE AND PROPERTY.

The ill-fated Jeffersonville bridge has again been checked in its building by another terrible loss of life and property.

Two spans fell yesterday, one in the morning and the other last evening.

The first disaster carried down about fifty men, of whom only a few escaped death or injury. No one was hurt in the second accident, but the financial loss was greater.

THE DEAD

BURNS, FRANK D. Franklin, Pa., picked up dead in the river by ferryboat Hite.

COOK, C.W., Mantua, O. Leg mashed and head crushed. Died in City hospital.

COURTNEY, JAMES, Clinton, Ia. Dead when recovered.

GARLOCK, L.G., Alton, Ill. Dead when recovered.

MILLER, FRANK, 367 Prospect Avenue, Buffalo, N.Y., died a few moments after being recovered.

MURPHY, CHARLES, 439 State street, Chicago, died at the City Hospital at (unreadable time) P.

THE INJURED

BROWN, L.G., Irvington, Ky.: arm broken in two places, at City Hospital.

CALLOWAY, THOMAS M., 4107 East Market Street: ankle sprained and several ribs broken, at City Hospital.

HILDEBRAND, EDWARD, Stout’s P.O., Northhampton county, Pa.: ribs broken and internally injured, will die: at City Hospital.

HOBEN,  EDWARD, 464 South State street, Chicago: broken thigh and internally injured: at City Hospital.

LEE, HARRY O., East spring street, New Albany: cut about head and suffering from shock: at City Hospital.

MEYER, JOHN (?) North Broadway, Lexington, Ky.: cut about face and leg broken, may require amputation: at City Hospital.

MOORE, O.F., Jeffersonville: Internally injured and both arms broken, may die: at City Hospital.

PARKS, SAMUEL, 1104 Fulton Street, hip broken.

PUGH, HARRY D. Mercer, Pa.(?), both arms broken (unreadable) burn and internally injured: at City Hospital.

SCHERP(?), EDWARD, 9707 Sayre street, North Pittsburgh, Pa.: broken leg and arm: at City Hospital.

SHARP, W.A., 722 Oldham street, Louisville: broken arm and bad scalp wound.

SHEEHAN, G., Greenup, Ky.: large flesh wound. At Farmer’s Home Hotel.

THACKER(?), GEORGE K. Bruises.: at City Hospital.

THE MISSING

ALBIN, J.

BERLINGER (?), RUSSELL L,  Riverton, W.Va.

HENKLE, G.H., Dauphin, Pa.

HOLDEN J.

HOLDERER(?), C.P.

KELLY, PATRICK, 1430 Mississippi Ave., St. Louis.

KREGAN(?), J.

LILLY, GEORGE.

OWENS, J.F.

FLAIM(?), H., Fifteenth street, New Albany.

SHERIDAN, F.

SIMMONS, FRANK, Jacksonville, Ala.

SODEN, A.

SOLEN, M.

WILSON, J.L.

Of the six dead, the bodies of all but Burns are at Cralle’s undertaking establishment. His body was taken to Jeffersonville by the ferryboat W.S. Hite.

Of the injured, those at City Hospital and Farmers’ House Hotel and Sharp at his home are being attended by Dr. W.L. Rodman. Lee is at his home in New Albany and Moore is being attended at Jeffersonville. Parks was removed to his home.

All of the fifteen given as missing are supposed to be in the river buried beneath the debris. As soon as the disaster happened Phoenix Bridge Company posted a notice on the door of its office, at 121 Campbell street, asking all men to report their names at once. Up to 1:30 o’clock this morning nothing had been heard of the fifteen men whose names are given, and the officials thought they were all dead, which would take the number of fatalities twenty-eight, with fourteen injured, of whom three, at least, will die.

The high winds that prevailed all Thursday night and yesterday are alleged by the bridge builders to have been the cause of the disaster, though the faulty and hasty construction of the false-work may have made the wrecking by the gusts much easier. Plenty of workmen charge this.

It was about 10:20 o’clock in the morning when the first accident happened. The large span was almost completed, and the lower part of it hung eighty-six feet from the water. On top of the bridge was a “traveler,” a huge frame affair, 104 1-2 feet high eighty feet long and about twenty feet wide. The “traveler” in itself was top-heavy and ran on a track built for it on top of the false-work.

In the strong wind, this huge mass of timber swayed backward and forward, each vibration materially weakening the frame false-work below. A harder gust and another vibration gave the timbers the last strain. The false-work began to sink, and the “traveler” toppled sidewise it carried with it into the river the false-work, the almost-completed steel span and forty-eight men at work upon it.

The other span wen down under a heavy gale last evening at 5:10 o’clock (might be 8:10), leaving not a particle of it swinging. No one was on the span or under it, though a ferryboat had passed beneath it but a few minutes before.

The actual loss to the Phoenix Bridge Company by the wrecking of the two spans is placed at $135,000 ($3.66 million today), not counting the labor employed in placing them in position.

THE ACCIDENT

Condition of the Work Before the Toppling of the Traveler – Danger Warnings Unheeded.

Those who saw the giving way of the span were so horrified that few of them could give a good description of the disaster. When the men went to work yesterday, they found the wind blowing at the rate of about twenty miles an hour. As they climbed to their places in the false-work, they were more careful than usual, for under the strain of the wind the huge “traveler” was perceptibly rocking, and its swaying motion was plainly felt by all who were at work upon it or on the nearly completed span or the false-work on which it rested.

The span was nearly completed, and nearly all the iron work was in position. The “traveler” was at the extreme northern end of the span, and all but rested (unreadable). About 175 feet of the iron work of the span was already in position, and the remainder was rapidly being put up. The “traveler” was a tall, frame structure, 104 1-2 feet high, 80(?) feet long and about 20 foot wide. It ran on a track built for it, and was constructed so that it could be moved along as the work progressed. There were four or five engines on the “traveler,” used to hoist the heavy iron beams and hold them while they were being put in position. In this “traveler” most of the men were at work, some at the very top, 190 feet from the water’s edge.

To give a better illustration of how the accident happened it is necessary to describe the work as it stood at the time the accident occurred. In order to erect the span false-work was first placed in position. Piling was driven into the river bed at intervals of about fifteen feet. The piles protruded about ten feet from the surface of the water. From those “bents(?)” were framed 6×10 timbers, making a false-work the length of the span, and the top being eighty-six feet from the water level. This false-work is the same as is erected for any cantilever bridge, and, except in unusual instances, will hold up the span until it is joined, when it is able to hold itself up. Then the false-work is torn away.

When the false-work has been constructed the work of erecting the span is begun. The heavy steel girder are hoisted into position by the “traveler” and held until bolted to others previously erected. As girder after girder is erected, the “traveler” is moved ahead on the track built on the false-work, until the opposite pier is reached. The work is begun on the next span in the same manner.

At the time of the accident the traveler was within a few feet of the third pier. The iron work behind it had all been placed in position, and by nightfall it was expected the span would have been swung.

The men at work in mid air, accustomed as they were at their task, were more cautious than ever yesterday, for the wind was very high. In the wind the tall “traveler” swayed gently, weakening in its very motion the false-work on which it rested.

The men above could not see the danger as well as those below. Those at work on the pile-driver below feared trouble, though they made no effort to warn the men in the bridge above. However, the pile-driver was moved from immediately beneath the bridge some little distance upstream, it being feared from the rocking of the “traveler” that it might fall.

The false-work must have been greatly weakened by the rocking of the “traveler” and as it sank slowly the momentum of the powerful “traveler” came greater.

Suddenly there came a cracking sound, as heavy timbers were rent in two. This was the only warning signal received by the men. Then there was a rush for the piers. About twenty-five escaped to the piers, and the rest went with the “traveler,” span and false-work into the river below, but a small number of the forty-eight believed to have fallen escaping.

The crashing of the timbers let the “traveler” down several feet on one side. The next gust of wind toppled it over. As the mass of timbers fell, it carried with it that part of the false-work immediately below the “traveler.” This weakened the rest of the false-work and in less than a minute all had fallen into the river with a fearful crash., the sound of which was heard for squares(?).

When once the span had commenced to topple there began a struggle for life to which a (unreadable) on a sinking ship could hardly be compared. There was not only the terrible prospect of a watery grave below, but the plunge thereto was even more frightful, the distance being eighty feet.

The fall of the traveler with its load of humanity caused such a splash that few heeded the tumbling of the larger end of the span between that and the Kentucky shore. It went down gradually, resembling, as one witness said, the closing up of a carpenter’s rule, so that the men who made for the next pier toward the Kentucky shore were actually running up hill. Among the number was Frank Brown, who was working at the bottom of the traveler. He thinks that there were fifteen or twenty men in the crowd that escaped with him by rushing toward the Kentucky shore. The poor fellow who was the last of those running lost his life by a second. For fully ten feet he ran up hill, as it were, for the trestle was by that time slanting. Several of his companions turned and saw him attempt to take one more step, which would have landed him safely on the pier, but the last remnant of the span went down with a crash, and he went with it. In the hurry and excitement they did not recognize who he was, but it is certain that when all the missing are accounted for his name will be among them.

All who escaped say they were warned of the coming catastrophe by a quake and a lunge of the heavy beams and front-work. The traveler being within only a few yards of the pier that stands in the middle of the channel, all the men who could possibly do so, or who had the presence of mind, made for this instead of the pier toward the Kentucky side, which was several hundred feet distant. When the wreckage had fallen into the water fifteen men – about as many as it could hold – were soon standing on the top of this stone pier, some of them trembling with excitement and the danger of the situation. It was only a few moments when the frame work which had been built only a few feet on the other side of the pier toward the Indiana side began to crack. It fell with a crash, and one of the guide ropes attached to it caught a man named Kelley around the legs near the knees and jerked him from the top of the pier to the water. He fell on the debris, and was being carried rapidly down stream when a boat manned by Capt. Devas and three life-savers (relieved?) him from the perilous position. A hole was cut deep into his head, another was in his side. The life-savers took him quietly to the shore. He was placed into a patrol wagon and carried to one of the hospitals, where he soon died. The remaining fourteen the slid town a rope into a boat which had come to their rescue. Thus escaped the thirty or forty men known to have been saved, except a few special cases that are deserving of a particular mention.

THE WORK OF RESCUE.

Incidents of Heroism and Narrow Escape That Occurred Just After the Falling of the Pier.

In the whirlpool and seething waters caused by the falloff the immense structure there was little more chance for a man to save himself than there is for a drowning man to escape by grasping a straw. Those who from fright clung to the timbers went down with the bridge never to rise again except in death. They are buried where no helping hand could reach them, and it is not theorizing to say that they gave up their lives without even so much as a struggle. But a number leaped as the span fell, so that they were carried high up on the works, dropped on the debris, fatally injured, or with legs, arms or ribs broken, there to be rescued by the scores of brave men who paddled to the rescue. It required a stout boat to venture into the midst of this scene with a frail skiff. The wind still blew upstream at a terrific rate, chopping the waves into great lumps of water that beat against a resisting object with almost irresistible force.

It was not less than a half an hour before this welling and heaving of the water consequent(?) upon the fall of the iron mass had entirely subsided. Before the timbers and beams had struck the water there went up a cry of distress that even the winds did not drown from the ears of those who chanced to be not far distant. Private Watchman Collins was un a skiff a few yards below the bridge, and not far from the Hotspur. The crackling of the timbers reached his ears and he raised his eyes in time to see the great span come toppling down. His skiff was caught in the whirlpool. Like a straw it was capsized and he was struggling with the waves. By the merest good luck his hand struck the skiff, and he not only saved his own life, but, wet to the skin, went to work with a will, trying to help others in distress. “I could hear their cries for help,” he said, “long before they struck the water. The scene reminded me of pictures I have seen of men with arms outstretched and in every conceivable position leaping from the windows of a burning building. It is impressed upon my mind like a photograph, and the details are clear to me, I could see many of them clinging to the span – hugging it as if it was their only salvation. But a poor one it turned out to be, for they were crushed to the bottom of the river, where I believe some are so deep in the mud that they will never have another grave.”

This first person to the rescue and who saved the first man was Martin Donahue, a young man of about twenty-two years, who was sitting in a skiff near the bank just below the bridge. As soon as the span began to sway he pulled toward it. Reaching the third pier he saw the man fall who only needed one more step to save himself. Being a good oarsman he reached the scene in time to be tossed high upon the waves. On the cap of one of those he caught George Brown, whose arm was broken. Dragging him into the boat he made for the shore, where he soon landed with the injured man and returned to the rescue.

The Lifesavers had arrived by this time. Men on the wharfboat shouted to them that the bridge had fallen. Capt. Devan ordered out two lifesaving boats with a crew of three men in each. They made the pull of their lives, and with the assistance of the gale went up stream like an arrow. First one then the other forged ahead, the race of the two splendid crews exciting the admiration erven of the excited people on shore. The distance of a (unreadable) is made in a remarkably short time, but, not even wearied of the pull, they were ready for hard work. Kelly’s life was (unreadable) to their good work, for the drift on which he lay dying was whirled a quarter of a mile down stream, where it was caught on a heavy snag of sandbar. The Hotspur being already on the scene, gave valuable assistance.

Those people below saw a brave act on the part of a man who proved to be one Gilder(?). He and (unreadable name) Hawks were working side by side. The shuck came and, simultaneously, they dropped their tools. Gilder was the foremost of the two. With yet a stretch of a hundred feet between them and the next pier in the direction of the Kentucky side, Gilder heard a cry. A quick turn of the head showed that his companion, Hawks, had stopped. His foot was caught in the trestlework. The bridge was giving way almost as fast as they sped over it toward safety. Gibber did not give thought to danger but, turning quickly, he went to the assistance of his friend as quickly as he was fleeing from death. Hawks’ foot was released, and, almost as the timbers fell beneath their feet, they escaped the pier.

All these things occupied but a short while. The afternoon was spent in clearing away the debris. It will be several days before this is completed. The lifting of the great bent pieces of iron, which are riveted together, will be the hardest part.

The wreckage leaves a line of debris extending high above water from the two large piers on which the span rested. The derrick was brought into use and seventy bridge-builders who were off duty at the time of the accident were set to work. The machinery was lifted from the river first, and to do this it took all the afternoon. There was great danger in this work. The men were paid twenty-five cents an hour ($6.77 today). They slipped about on the broken timbers in the water as if they were on dry land, and apparently forgetful or unmindful of the tragedy that had just occurred, except that each and every one of them kept a sharp lookout for any evidence of the presence of corpses.

AT THE HOSPITAL

Two of the Wounded Die Soon After Being Received – Addresses of the Others.

In the southwest ward of the City Hospital a row of cots was filled early in the afternoon with maimed, gashed and bruised survivors of the accident. Dr. W.L. Rodman, the bridge surgeon, who is assisted by Dr. George W. Griffiths, J.M. Williams and R. M. Jones, ordered most of them to be removed to the central ward, but before the removal was completed two of the sufferers had died. The names of those in the City Hospital are given below with their home addresses as recorded on the slips, and the nature of their injuries:

G.W. Brown, Irvington, Ky., compound fracture of the left arm between shoulder and elbow.

W.A. Sharp, 722 Oldham street, city, broken arm and scalp wound.

Edward Schief, 2707 Sayre street, South Pittsburgh, Pa., right leg broken and face cut.

Edward Hoban, 461 South State street, Chicago, right leg badly broken and possible injuries to the back.

Edward Hildebrand, Stouts P.O., Northampton county, Pa., ribs crushed into the lungs.

John Meyers, 312 North Broadway, Lexington, Ky. Broken leg, badly gashed.

Thomas M. Galloway, no home given, but nearest friend given as Mrs. Margaret Haley, 44 Bremen street, Covington, Ky., three ribs broken, supposed internally injured.

Charles Murphy, Chicago, Ill., both legs broken and injury to hip. Died at a few minutes before 3 o’clock p.m.

C.W. Cook, Mantua Station, Ohio, left leg crushed and scalp torn from the back of the head. Died at about 2 p.m.

The bodies of Murphy and Cook were taken to Lee Cralle’s undertaking establishment, 700 West Jefferson.

The Farmers’ Home, on Market street, near Preston, was the temporary home of many of the men employed on the bridge works, and of these two were brought to their own rooms more or less injured. They were D.F. Hall, arm and hip fractured, and George E. Shehan, Greenup, Ky., flesh torn from right side. These also received the attention of Dr. Rodman.

It was not easy to get a clear or connected account of their individual experiences from the suffering men. Most of them were either half unconscious or too weak to be troubled with questions. G.W. Brown could talk freely and said that he had plenty of warning to enable him to escape if he had been willing to go back to the Jeffersonville side, but he delayed too long and then tried to run to the Louisville pier. When he was about 100 feet from this pier, the bridge gave way under him. He was struck by some of the falling pieces, but, being a strong swimmer, managed, in spite of his broken arm, to get to the surface when he was rescued by a boat.

Ed Hoban, of Chicago, has excited the admiration of Dr. Rodman and the hospital staff more perhaps than any other of the emergency patients by his pluck. Lying on his back on his cot with a broken leg, and unable to sleep because he could not turn on his side, Hoban told a reporter that there had been plenty of time to get off the roadway of the bridge, where he was, if it had not been that they wanted to move the traveler back. When matters became desperate, Hoban ran for the Louisville pier with the rest, but he had waited too long. He, with Hinekley(?), who was killed, fell and caught the bottom cord, but that was falling, too, so Hoban let go of it when it touched the water, fearing to be jammed under it at the bottom of the river. Timbers were shooting up, he said, on every side, and some of these struck him: still he struck out for the surface and held on until the Hotspur came and picked him up.

G.E. Sheehan, at the Farmer’s Home, was lying in bed apparently in fair spirits by 3 o’clock. His torn side troubled him, but he was sufficiently recovered from the shock to ask for a chaw of tobacco. This is Sheehan’s second experience in bridge accidents on the Ohio river. A year ago last summer he was in a similar accident in Covington and that time escaped without any damage. He described his fall and his struggle under water to get to “where he thought was the top.” The fragments were in his way, but he struggled on toward the light and got to it. While holding on to a piece of the bridge he was hailed by a man in a boat and asked to come and help pull out another man, but it was all he could do to keep himself safe.

Late last night the injured men at the City Hospital were resting easily. Dr. Rodman, the bridge company’s surgeon, said last night the worst hurt of any of the men was Hildebrand and Hoben. The doctor said their death or recovery depended upon the extent of internal injuries they had received, and that that could not be determined for some hours. Both cases, he said, were critical, but not hopeless. The doctor said he thought it would be necessary to amputate the shattered leg of young Meyers in order to save his life. Meyers would not consent to it yesterday, and would not even let

(Jump)

the doctors talk of such a thing. G. W. Brown, whose left arm was broken in two places, was sound asleep when his mother, who had heard the news and had come from her home in Irvington, called to see him.

HARRY LEE’S THRILLING EXPERIENCE.

Dived from the Top of the Traveler and Though Seriously Injured Escapes Alive.

By far the most thrilling experience, and one which required the display of the most remarkable nerve, was that of Harry Lee, of New Albany. He is known as one of the most daring of the bridge builders and the manager gave him work that many others would not have attempted.

When the warning of disaster came it found him perched on the topmost point of the traveler, 190 feet from the water. With him was a man whose first name was Fred. He was from Lincoln, Ill. The other men on the traveler were far below them. Lee’s companion seized the iron rigging, in which they were climbing like sailors. He clung on for dear life, and when the span went down, he went with it to his grave, for he was probably buried in the mud at the bottom of the river. Lee is a slender but hardy young man of twenty-five years. He knew it was certain death to stick to the “traveler,” so he resolved to take a desperate chance. At the first signal of danger, he clambered to the very top, only a foot or so above where he already stood. Then he raised himself at full height. The great span trembled beneath him. Still he stood there immovable, and two eye witnesses who were at a safe distance in the river below held their breath in the expectation of what was to follow. Once or twice the strong wind swayed the structure, until its momentum was sufficient to topple it over.

Then Lee made ready. The wind had already tossed his hat far upstream. Even at that height he had the presence of mind to station himself on the lower side, knowing that the wind would blow the wreckage upstream. He was seen by those blow to place his hands above his head in the shape of a V, his form clearly outlined against the sky. Then stooping, he made a plunge head first from the height. Like an arrow he shot toward the river, never turning once in his course, nor removing his hands from before his head. Though it must have been hardly as many seconds, it seemed fully like five minutes before Lee struck the water. Watchman Collins and Martin Donahue, the boy who rescued George Brown, saw him disappear. Coming arrowlike from that height of 100 feet they never expected to see him again. But the result of the leap was worth the chance, for Lee soon appeared on a big wave, from which he was rescued. His leg was broken, his body was blue from the concussion (?) with the water, but his life was saved, and he bore the record of as daring a leap, probably, as ever a man made.

ON THE JEFFERSONVILLE SIDE.

Scenes Witnessed By People of the Hoosier Suburb – Dead and Injured On That Side.

Five thousand people surged along the river front in Jeffersonville shortly after the catastrophe. The people of the city were attracted by a roaring sound when the collapse came., and all, reminded of the cyclone, which laid waste a portion of the city, were almost paralyzed at the prospect of another visitation of the storm demon (Note: this is likely referencing the 1980 tornado – I’ll write more on that soon). The blowing of whistles on the river and the ringing of steamers’ bells added to the excitement, and almost the whole population ran to the scene from every direction. The crowd stood in amazement, powerless to render assistance to the man, many of whom could be seen struggling to reach a place of safety and then sink to death.

Men in skiffs hastened to the spot. Jerry Bealey(?), who manned one, reached Harry Lee in time to rescue him. His thrilling escape is detailed elsewhere. Lee was taken to the home of Rev. T. Bosley(?), where he is at present being provided for.

Dr. D.C. Peyton, surgeon for the bridge company in Jeffersonville, was pulled to the scene in a skiff by Bud Matthews and Louis Valderbill(?). The small “traveler” on pier No. 5 was still apparently intact, and just as the skiff containing Dr. Peyton and the two oarsmen were passing by it collapsed with a crash carrying with it an engine used in hoisting bridge iron into position. The shouts of these on the shore and the danger in which the boatmen found themselves caused them to become excited and in consequence their craft was overturned. Dr. Peyton pitched headlong into the river and arose under a pile of debris. Those on the river bank waited in suspense for him to appear, which he did an instant later. He had been carried several feet by the undercurrent, however, and sank twice before assistance reached him. Two young men in a skiff saved him just in time. Herman Rave(?), the newspaper man, also had a close call, falling from a skiff, but being an adept swimmer reached the boat unassisted.

When the span began to quiver and the “traveler” plunged into the river, among those who reached pier No. 5 in safety was Frank Simmons, of Jeffersonville. It was at the moment the small “traveler” gave way and fell. A rope, and some manner, became entangled about the body of Simmons, and before he could extricate himself he was pulled from his position. He turned over and over in descending, and struck some timbers near the pier. His death must have been instantaneous for he never appeared on the surface. His body was not recovered. He leaves a wife, who resides on Mulberry street in Jeffersonville. Simmons formerly lived in Phoenixville, Pa., and had been in the employ of the Phoenix Bridge Company for several years. The ferry Steamer City of Jeffersonville picked up the dead body of Frank D. Burns and conveyed it to the Spring street dock, whence it was removed to the undertaking establishment of Bamber(?) & Ogden, on East Chestnut street. Coroner Gilbert viewed the remains and head the evidence of several witnesses. He returned a verdict in accordance with the facts. William B. Burns identified the body as that of his brother. The home of the dead man was in Franklin, Pa., where the body will be shipped this morning. The surviving brother is also employed on the bridge, but had been ill for two days and was not at work yesterday.

Two men were taken to the City Infirmary, on East Front street. They were Harry Pugh of Mercer county, Pa., and Oliver Moore, whose home is at 101 Altor street, Philadelphia. Pugh had his back and his head injured. Moore’s spine was wrenched and both arms were broken. He is in precarious condition, while that of Pugh is not regarded by the physician. Drs. Peyton, Walker and Fields as serious.

A Courier-Journal reporter called to see the men last night. Moore was asleep but Pugh was not. He spoke with some reluctance, saying, “I have been with the Phoenix Bridge Company for several years. I regarded the false work as safe, but there were several of the workmen who did not, and I believe that some of them left on that account. I was under the traveler pulling wires(?), preparatory to its being moved to the center of the span, when I heard it crack, and then I knew what was coming. I think if we had gotten the “traveler” moved the accident would not have happened. I have no idea how many men were killed. Probably eighty men were at work.”

One of the most remarkable escapes was that of John Housenberger(?), better known as “French John,” of Port Huron, Mich. He was on top of the “traveler.” As it went down, “French John” held on, and, when within a few feet of the water, he leaped and did not sustain a single scratch.

Ira Dorsey, collector on the ferry boat City of Jeffersonville, was another eye-witness. He said: “We left the First street dock about 10:10 and were passing under the bridge at about quarter after. I was standing on the upper deck talking to a gentleman about the bridge. While we were looking at the structure it suddenly began to quiver. Then the “traveler” shot down like a flash and then the iron work fell with a roaring sound. It caused such a commotion in the river that the waves rolled high in the air and rocked the ferryboat so that we all thought it would capsize.

“Then the cries of mangled and drowning men broke the awful stillness. Some cried, “For God’s sake save us” Pilot Bart Nixon quickly righted the boat and we pulled alongside the wrecked ‘traveler.’ Just then a corpse arose, and it was picked up and placed on board. It was to be the body of John Burns. I saw others floating on the water, but they were in the last throes of death, and sank before we could rescue them. By this time other steamers and dozens of skiffs were at the scene, and many men were picked up by them.

“One man I am certain lost his life after the accident. He was on the pier, and either fell or jumped off. Three or four times he turned over then his body struck some debris, and part of the ‘traveler.’ I think, from what I could observe, that about fifty or sixty men met death.”

Harry Plais (?) of New Albany, brother-in-law of Fire Chief Merker, is among the missing. He is forty-two years of age, and leaves a wife, but no children. When last seen he was working on the false-work directly beneath the mass of iron that fell from above. Only about three minutes before the crash came, Plaiss had been remarking on the dangers in the life of a bridge-builder, and said that “possibly in a few minutes a block might fall from above that would kill both of us.”

William Wilty, another New Albany workman, saved himself by clinging to a rope that was suspended from the pier.

THE SECOND DISASTER

The Third Span from the Kentucky Shore Falls During the Wind, But No Lives Lost.

The accident of the forenoon was duplicated in all but the loss of life at 8:10 o’clock last evening, when the third span from the Kentucky shore fell into the river with a loud crash. So far as is known no lives were lost by this second catastrophe. The river was blockaded by the debris until transit of boats could be made only through the channel between the two piers nearest the Indiana shore. Neither the ferry nor any of the other large boats would attempt this.

The cause of the second accident, like that of the first, is attributed by the bridge men to the high wind. A sharp gust came at that hour and the enormous (something) span, bolted and partially riveted together as it was, fell from the piers.

It was shortly after 8 o’clock that a few scattering rain drops began to fall. The velocity of the wind increased, and in a few moments the waves rose so high that the 100 men who were clearing away the debris of the morning accident became alarmed. Finally, Thomas Mudden(?), the foreman of the wrecking crew, started toward the Hotspur, which was tied to a large (something). He steadied himself with a rope as he walked, but he had proceeded but a short distance when a sudden gust lifted him off his feet, broke the rope to which he was holding and dropped him in the river. Robert Flynn and John Markham, workmen, who were also on the debris, were also blown into the river.

The same gust shook the might span, probably already weakened, and it fell. The heavy (something) were twisted into a thousand shapes, and only a few scattering paints of different sizes showed here and there above the water.

The crashed alarmed the entire neighborhood, and many persons were soon standing on the banks. The velocity of the wind, which had reached a maximum of thirty-six miles an hour, was lessoned somewhat, and the men in the river were pulled into the steamer Hotspur.

Capt. Joe Hurst, of the Hotspur, got frightened, and the entire boat’s crew rushed panic-stricken. No one knew what had happened, but it was finally decided to put to shore. This was accordingly done with all haste.

Mr. Fisher reported to the office of the company, 121 Campbell street, that another accident had occurred, and he and Paymaster Kelly proceeded to investigate in a small boat, the waves and wind having subsided considerably. They found the span in the river as described and returned to the shore. Superintendent of Erection A.B. Millikin and Resident Engineer O.E. Seltey (?) were notified and consultation was held at the office. It was decided to suspend the work on the debris, and the men were told they would not be wanted until today.

The span which blew down last night was erected at at cost of $75,000 ($2.03 million today). It was 553(?) feet long, 22 feet wide and 50 feet high. It was built of steel throughout. The work of placing it together was begun and almost completed during the month of November last. It required only a small amount of riveting to be finished. It was to have been the largest span in the entire bridge.

All day yesterday and up to the time of the accident the ferryboats W.W. Hite and the City of Jeffersonville passed under it as they and other boats had done since it was completed. The river, of course, was filled with the wrecked and twisted steel, rendering this channel impassible to any boat, however small. Consequently a few small boats used that space between the two farthest piers on the Indiana side of the river last night. The ferryboats did not attempt to make trips after the accident, for their pilots did not know the nature nor the position of the debris in the darkness. Whether the river traffic will be delayed by the accident is not known, but it is presumed that by daylight this morning it will be seen that a passageway sufficient for large boats is left in the river at this point.

As soon as the investigation had been completed last night Assistant Superintendent Fisher had a large corps of men placing red lanterns on the wreckage and when they had completed their work the scene from the foot of Campbell street was a pretty one. The night was dark and the river was dotted all over, seemingly by a thousand red lights. Portions of the debris had drifted far down below the bridge, and the danger signals had been placed on these as well as on those above the bridge.

It did not take the report that another span had given away many minutes to spread over the city, and in a remarkably short time the banks on both sides of the river were crowded by a mass of people who seemed to care little for the drenching rain. All thought additional lives had been lost, and they waited patiently for what did not transpire. Several eye witnesses to the later accident were interviewed in regard to the possible loss of life. None heard any cries of distress, though this would have been an impossibility considering the noises made by the wind and falling bridge. If any one was caught under the falling span it was some one in a small boat who was crossing the river. The expression last night was general that no one had been killed in the last accident.

WHAT THE BRIDGE MEN SAY

Both the Accidents Attributed to the High Wind.

Naturally all the officials were very much excited last evening soon after the accident, and refused to make a statement to the members of the press. Supt. Millikin was seen an hour later, however, and then talked very willingly in regard to the matter.

“It was a most remarkable accident,” he said, “and I never hear of the like before. It was certainly due to a cyclone. The accident of this evening has no connection whatever with that of this morning. There is no similarity between the two. The floor system of this last span which blew over was united by being bolted throughout. The greater part of it was well riveted, too, and was fitted up in such a manner that nothing short of a cyclone would have (something) it. It was entirely separate from the other spans, and the interbracing was such that I thought nothing could have disturbed it.

“The cyclone lifted the entire span from off the piers and dropped it in a pile a little farther up the river. The span was a whole was considered remarkably strong, and we had run weights over it in the last few weeks which exceeded by far the weight of a locomotive. I have no hesitation in making the statement that a railroad train could have passed over it with absolute safety.

“I would like to say that we are doing everything possible for the injured, and will spare no pains nor money to secure the bodies of those who are buried under the debris. We are not making arrangements for any new work, and we are cleaning the wreck only for the purpose of securing the bodies of the dead men for their families.

“We were making every effort to get the false-work out of our way before a rise in the river overtook us. We looked for it about January 10, and had made extensive preparations to complete the work to the extent that the remainder of it could be done above the water.

“There seems to be prevailing a mistaken idea in regard to this matter. We could not afford to work with dangerous and unsafe false-work. Chief Engineer John Starling Deans, of Philadelphia, cautioned us several weeks ago about the false-work. He instructed me to use all the timber I had and to require extra bracing be put up on all the work. We could not afford to work in the way the people seem to suppose we have done, for we know the danger to life and also from a financial standpoint. I inspected everything myself, and I am sure that both accidents were due to the high winds; the last to what we could term a cyclone.”

Superintendent Millikin said that he had telegraphed for Chief Engineer Deans immediately after the first accident yesterday morning and that he had received an immediate reply that the chief would start at once. He said that Mr. Deans would arrive in Louisville this afternoon and that nothing would be done except by his orders, as he would take charge immediately upon his arrival. Resident Engineer Selby corroborated all Superintendent Millikin had said.

Mr. S. W. Collin(?), of Cincinnati, having private business with Mr. Millikin, of the bridge company, came to this city yesterday morning. Mr. Millikin invited Mr. Collin(?) to visit the works with him, and Mr. Collin, in his anxiety to see how things were progressing on the bridge, wanted to set out before the business in hand had been transacted. Mr. Millikin thought it would be better to get through with their business first, and Mr. Collin agreed to do so. It was owing to this final decision of the two gentlemen that they did not both take their chances with the unfortunate victims of the accident. When the structure fell, Mr. Millikin and his friend were within sight of the bridge, but had not yet quite reached it. If Mr. Collin’s firs inclination had been carried out, the postponed business would probably never have been transacted; they would have both been on the bridge when the crash came instead of only in sight of it.

Mr. Collin, who is a ship-builder, remained with his friend all day, acting as his assistant and clerk. He believes that the disaster was due to the impact of a sudden gust. A wind of much higher velocity, he thinks, would have left the work unharmed if the pressure had only increased more gradually and been steadier. It was this suddenness that he attributes the power which twisted the heavy traveler round while it stood on the false work.

ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT FISHER.

He Witnessed the Disaster From the Hotspur – Declares the Wind Alone was Responsible.

The men who were aboard the steamer Hotspur had a narrow escape from death. The boat is leased by the Phoenix Bridge Company and was utilized in moving barges, timbers, iron, etc., to and from the bridge piers.

About 10 o’clock the Hotspur started from the Kentucky shore to pier No. 1(?). The ferryboat W.W. Hite was passing through the channel on its way to Jeffersonville and the Hotspur was delayed several minutes in allowing the Hite to pass. This saved the lives of those on board, and the boat from destruction. The Hotspur rounded to pier 3, and when about twenty yards distant, the span fell.

The most prominent figure on the boat was the form of George W. Fisher, Assistant Superintendent of Construction, and who had charge of the entire working force. Mr. Fisher lives in Jeffersonville and his young wife was a passenger on the steamer Hite. She witnessed the fall of the span and thought her husband was mashed with the boat. She fainted and it was late yesterday afternoon when she gained consciousness, after having been carried to the Falls City Hotel, in Jeffersonville, that she learned her husband had not been hurt.

Mr. Fisher spoke of the accident as follows to a Courier-Journal reporter:

“We would have been under the bridge in another minute, but I saw the ‘travler’ waver and I gave the order to back. The next momen the crash came, and the water was full of debris and wounded men. We got out nine of them, all alive, and carried them to the Kentucky shore, and the police patrols and fire wagons took charge of them. I will never forget how those men yelled to me to save them, as the span fell right at our side. They all knew me, for I have been with the Phoenix Company for six years, and it was, “George, for God’s sake, save me,” on every hand.

“Just after the falling of the big span, we turned the boat toward pier No. 3, toward the Indiana shore, and it was not ten minutes before the false work, (?) feet, 11 inches long, on this side of the pier fell, missing us and the boat by a narrow margin.

“I want to say that the accident was caused by the high wind against the topmost framework. The pilings were driven down to the solid rock, about fifteen feet. The false work was good and was placed in well and strong. I was on the top of the span about ten minutes before I got on the Hotspur, and everything was all right up there. It is true there was a slight swaying, which was caused by the wind, but this is usual and no one thought anything strange of it. I know everything was secure and that the accident was not the fault of the company.

“There were two ‘travelers’ on top of the span, three boilers and engines. One of the travelers, that which fell first, was used for the hoisting of iron to the span, and the other was a small one, used for the placing of the wooden false-work on the north side of pier 3. This was on the Indiana side, and when this falsework fell the boiler exploded with a loud noise. The falling of this work was not caused by neglect. The falling of the span left this false-work on the other side of the pier without much support, and the wind played the mischief. Many men had escaped to pier 3 when the span fell, and when the false-work tumbled on the other side they were left in the middle of the river on top of the high pier. We got them down.

“Immediately after the accident we began clearing away the debris and set about the work of rescuing the dead and injured. We have a force of about one hundred men at work at this and will increase the force.

“I can not say how many men were on the span when it fell. They were scattered all about, and many of them got safely to one side or the other before the crash came. I can not estimate how many went down. I had charge of the work, which consisted in the placing of the iron above the false-work. The most of the men were employed at this, and the remainder in handling the false-work and in joining the pieces of iron. There were several foremen of small squads under me, but I do not remember who they were.”

Mr. Fisher could not estimate the loss. He was of the opinion that the damage would be in the neighborhood of $25,000, but he did not care to give it an official estimate. After careful thought Mr. Fisher said that there were about seventy-two men on the span when it started to totter., He said that fully one-third of this number reached the piers at either end before it was too late, and that about fifty were precipitated into the water eighty feet below. He said a number of physicians had arrived on the scene immediately, and that Dr. Peyton had fallen into the river by accident. Mr. Fisher jumped into the water and rescued him. His clothes were still wet late yesterday afternoon, and his shirt and vest – he was coatless – were besmeared with blood, which he had received in handling the dead and injured.

Mr. Fisher has been in the bridge building business for fourteen years, almost ever since he was a boy. He says he knows it thoroughly, and that if the accident had been caused by anything else save the strong wind, he would know of it.

Paymaster M. I. Kelly remained at the office of the bridge company, 121 Campbell street, all yesterday afternoon and received the names of those who had been at work on the top of the span as fast as they entered the office. A large notice on the outside of the door requesting the workmen report and give their names caused the room to be crowded all the afternoon. Many a touching scene was enacted. After the workmen would meet another, each of whom had thought that the other had been killed, their demonstrations of joy were good to see. Others who called learned for the first time of some one’s death, or had their fears confirmed.

“Tommy, old boy, I thought you was a goner this time,” said a sturdy young man to a friend who had just entered the door.

“No, Jack, I’m not dead yet. But I thought my time had come when I had to jump for it,” was the answer as the men clapped hands.

Paymaster Kelly would give little information as to the dead or injured. He was of the opinion that many of those who had been reported missing, had gone to their homes. From what he could learn, he said there were almost seventy-five men on the span when it gave way.

Peter McGuire, the inspector of the iron work, was seen by a Courier-Journal representative after the accident. He said that he was standing on pier No. 3 when the span fell. He said that the rumors which were afloat to the effect that the false-work had been built quickly and cheaply was without foundation. He said that the work was put up as rapidly as possible, but that it was well constructed and was as substantial as any he had ever seen. He attributed the cause of the accident to the high wind and declared it should not be charged to the negligence of the bridge company. He said the false-work was braced by timbers six by ten feet, and rested on pillars sixty feet long.

Capt. Joseph Hurst, of the steamer Hotspur, was looking at the span when the accident occurred. He says he saw a large block of wood blow off the top of the span and a moment later the large iron traveler tumbled over. Then the entire span fell with a crash, and in a few minutes the false-work on the north side of pier No. 3 dropped into the water. He said the wind was responsible for the accident. He said that the traveler weighed 60,000 pounds. He said the boat had carried nine men to the shore, and that he considered eight of them fatally hurt.

“SOMETHING RADICALLY WRONG”

Engineers Much Puzzled By the Accident and Guarded In Their Expressions, But Think the Second Accident Startling.

From a scientific standpoint the bridge disaster has aroused much interest among civil engineers. But as a rule these gentlemen are guarded in their expressions of opinion, and they did not care to speak until thoroughly conversant with the surrounding circumstances. Among the engineers seen was Mr. Marshall Morris. When questioned, Mr. Morris said:

“I have just returned from a business trip, and only learned of what happened as I cam in on the train. I intend to look over the ground in the morning, but before then I could not speak intelligently.”

“What causes could lead to the falling of the bridge? Would such an event be the result of bad engineering?” was asked.

“There are many causes, of course,” replied Mr. Morris,” but I could not undertake to point out a cause in this particularly case. There was certainly something wrong, but what it was I am not prepared to say.”

Mr. Morris had not heard of the falling of the second span until informed of it by the reporter. At this he expressed the greatest surprise, and seemed a little more willing to talk. While he did not say so in just so many words, his expression on this point was practically that the falling of the two spans on the same day was merely and incident. A completed span of a bridge, Mr. Morris said, was in no way dependent on another span in the same bridge. In fact, he conveyed the impression that they were as independent of each other as two altogether different bridges.

“I can not understand,” said he, “the falling of a completed span of bridge, with no false work under it. That a bridge intended to carry heavy weights should fall with no weight at all on it is most singular. There must have been something radically wrong.”

THE BROKEN STRUCTURE

The Bridge a Cantilever of Five Spans – The Fallen Ones.

The span that fell in the morning was one of the three channel spans and was almost in the center of the river. It was between piers 3 and 4, and was known as span no. 3. The span was 553 feet in length, being three feet shorter than those on either side of it, one of which is finished. It was a cantilever span, built by the Phoenix Bridge Company, of Phoenixville, Pa., and was of steel weighing several thousand tons. There were five sections to the span, coupled together in the shape of an arch, thus holding up itself and the body of the bridge, which is suspended from the cantilever arch by iron beams. The span that went down last night was exactly similar in construction but three feet less in length. It had been (swung?) and the false-work removed. Men were at work yesterday riveting together the sections, they being but temporarily bolted when swung into position by the “traveler.”

Chief Engineer John S. Deans left Phoenixville, Pa., for Louisville last night. He will assume charge of the work on his arrival.

SCENE OF JOLLITY

Workmen Meet and Congratulate Each Other in Gay Saloon.

A thrilling and touching scene was witnessed in Charley Gay’s saloon at Fulton and Campbell streets. The place was thronged with workmen who had escaped from the bridge disaster, and many of their friends were there assisting them in celebrating their good luck. Some shook hands, others embraced each other and all drank. Beer flowed like water and whisky was supplied to those who preferred it. Soon the crowd began to sing, and those who were not able to render a song used their lungs and feet in a manner that indicated their joy.

All were good natured, and during the day and until late into the night, Gay’s resort presented a rare scene of jollity.

M’CULLOUGH’S BUSY DAY

He Notifies the Jeffersonville Coroner That Kentucky Has Jurisdiction Over the Ohio and Warns the Bridge People to Ship No Bodies Away.

Coroner McCullough was one of the busiest men at the scene yesterday. He first heard of the occurrence while at Tenth and Main streets, and but a few minutes after it occurred. Alderman Charles Grainger met the Coroner, and told him that a span of the bridge had fallen. The doctor drove quickly up Main street in his buggy, thinking it quite likely that some one had been killed. When he reached Campbell street he saw swarms of people hurrying in the direction of the river. He quickly found that a number of people had been killed. The accident happened in the middle of the river, which, according to law, belongs to Kentucky clear to the Hoosier shore. It was reported that the Jeffersonville Coroner was on the other side of the river receiving the bodies of the victims. The Louisville Coroner did not intend to be outdone in this manner, so he at once tried to get the boat and oarsman who would accompany him to the very spot of the accident. Finally he secured the services of Jesse Moore, and old boatman, noted for his daring. Dr. McCullough and his companion, each with a pair of oars, struggled manfully against wind and waves, until they at least succeeded in reaching the middle of the river. There the Coroner read the riot act to the rescuing party, telling them that if any bodies were taken to Jeffersonville, he would have the entire party arrested. After that every corpse, as well as the wounded, was brought first to the Kentucky side of the river.

The Coroner repaired at once to the office of the Phoenix Bridge Company. There he notified the officers that if any attempt was made to ship the bodies away before he had seen them he would hold every official in the bridge company responsible was would prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. He had all the bodies taken to Leo M. Cralle’s undertaking establishment at Seventh and Jefferson streets.

The Coroner does not intend to hold a separate inquest for each body recovered. He began yesterday to empanel a jury, and has secured four men. This morning he intends to swear in the other two jurors necessary. Then the bodies recovered will all be viewed by him and the jurors. After this the other corpses will be viewed as fast as they are recovered. When most of the bodies are found it is the Coroner’s intention to hold one inquest for all. Dr. McCullough expects to have about forty witnesses, and the inquest will be an important one. He has already secured ten important witnesses. He is attending to looking up witnesses himself instead of, as is the custom, leaving it for the police to do.

A HISTORY OF DISASTERS

Fatalities, Financial and Human, Overtook the bridge at Its Inception and Retained Their Hold.

The Louisville and Jeffersonville Bridge Company is in no wise liable for the accidents. It had contracted with the Phoenix Bridge Company for the erection of the structure, and the latter corporation must stand the financial loss and any damages that may be claimed.

Mr. J.W. Baird, Secretary of the Louisville and Jeffersonville Bridge Company, and one of the originators of the bridge, was viewing the work through his field glasses from his office on the fifth floor of the Columbia building when the first disaster occurred.

Mr. Baird, in speaking of the first disaster said the accident was the result of unforeseen causes. He said the report that the men had knowledge that the (piling?) end false-work were unsafe was absurd on its face, and added that the piling was braced in every way to give it support. The work of completing the bridge will of course be greatly delayed. The contract called for its completion in January. The history of the bridge has been one of disasters. Fourteen were killed in the caisson accident at Towhead Island, and seven on the next caisson. Since then single and double fatalities have occurred often.

The early financial failure of the bridge practically caused the death of Jacob F. Krieger, of the Masonic Savings Bank. The bank was already in a hard way financially, and Mr. Krieger invested heavily in Bridge Co. and East End Improvement Co stock in the hope of getting on his feet again. But the failure of the Barings came, and being unable to dispose of his bridge stock, the bank went under. Depositors have received but 20 per cent, and the stockholders nothing. The breaking of the bank sent Mr. Krieger to his grave.

A charger was granted for the bridge in 1879. In 1888 a new charger was secured, and in October, 1889, work was begun. In 1890 the failure of the Barings prevented the floating of $1,000,000 of bonds, and work was suspended. This year a syndicate, composed chiefly of the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad Company, secured control of the bridge, and with the money furnished by it the bridge is being completed.

“SCOTTY” MORAN WAS SCARED.

Got Too Nervous to Work and Left the Bridge Just in Time to Be Able to Get Drunk Afterward.

“Scotty” Moran is an experienced bridge-builder, whose home is in Pittsburgh. About five minutes before the span fell he was at work near the end. He heard the creaking noise as the strong wind whistled through the false-work and became nervous. He said to several companions that he thought the bridge unsafe in strong wind.

It is a rule of the bridge company that if any of the workmen should become dizzy they shall be allowed to lay off for an hour in order to strengthen their nerves.

Although his companions laughed at what they termed Moran’s foolish fears, he went to the time keeper and notified him that he wanted the customary hour, and was marked off the books for that length of time. Moran lost no time in getting off the bridge. He had hardly reached a place of safety before the span fell and he saw his fellow workmen dashed to their death. Last night Moran was in a hilarious mood as a result of the celebration of his marvelous escape.

ALL THE MEN INSURED.

The Phoenix Company Had Thoughtfully Provided Accident Policies.

The workmen stated last night, in answer to inquiries made by a reporter, that every man employed in the construction of the bridge was insured against accident by the Phoenix Company itself. The applies to both the regular employees of the company, who are sent from place to place as needed to carry out the various contracts, and known as “Phoenix men,” and the men engaged for this or that particular job. The arrangement was that a certain percentage was deducted weekly from each man’s pay and in considerations for this deduction the company allowed any man disabled by accident to draw pay for half time during his disability – in case of death by accident, the heirs of the dead man would receive half a year’s pay at the rate of his wages at the time of his death. The deduction per week for a man earning $2.30 a day would be twenty-five cents; in the former case the workman would receive $1.50 a week during disability, in the latter, $4.50(?).

The News at Phoenixville.

Phoenixville, Pa. Dec. 15 – The Louisville and Jeffersonville bridge, which was wrecked to-day, being erected by the Phoenix Bridge Company, it is supposed that a large number of Phoenixville workmen were among those who went down with the wreck. On this account the news of the accident caused great excitement here. The span which fell during the day weighed 1,800,000 pounds. The works here will close to-morrow. Superintendent of Construction Millikin telegraphed that he is safe and that he does not know how many were killed.

Notes.

The Bridge Company last night sent out telegrams to the families of nearly all their employees notifying them of their safety or injury, as the case was.

The life-savers found about seventy-five dinner buckets on top of the wreckage.

Enterprising skiff owners coined money by taking people out to see the wreck at 10 cents a head.

Tom Madelen(?), one of the foremen, was one of those who escaped by running toward the Kentucky side. It was reported that he was killed.

Two of the men who were put to work on the debris were seen to take a drink of whisky. They were pinched in a skiff and ordered ashore.

The Mayor of Clinton, Ia., was notified of the death of James Courtney and asked to have his relatives advise the Phoenix Bridge Company in regard to the disposition of his remains.

Mrs. Mary Garlock of Alton, Ill., was telegraphed for advice in regard to the disposition of remains of her husband, L. G. Garlock.

Drs. Geoge W. Griffiths, Baker, Dunn, Cawein, Howe, Payton and Rodman, of this city, and nine physicians of Jeffersonville were quickly on the scene and rendered valuable service.

Among those who escaped unhurt was R. H. Hasly(?), of Cincinnati. He stays at the Farmers’ Home while in this city, occupying the same room as Sheehan, who was badly cut, and Heidebrand (?), who lies in critical condition at the City Hospital. Speaking to a reporter last night, Bigsby(?) said that the first warning he got was when  some one called out: “The false-work is going upstream.” The false-work was then already about two feet out of line. The order was given to get the tackle by which the traveler was hauled round from the Jeffersonville side to the Louisville side, and it was when the men attempting to carry out this order that the crash came. Bigsby was very much of the opinion that the bridge was too narrow for its height.

Mr. M.I. Kelly, paymaster of the Phoenix Bridge Company, rendered a great service in the efforts to ascertain a correct list of the killed, injured and missing. He secured as for as possible the exact street address of all the victims, and besides sent many telegrams to the homes of others who were not killed or injured, notifying their families that they were safe.

 

 

Today we use the Big Four as a destination to walk across, take nice photos and get a little exercise on nice days. Try to remember the men who died there so many years ago.

 

 

 

 

  2017  /  disasters, Transportation  /  Last Updated July 4, 2017 by lisedawg@gmail.com  / 
%d bloggers like this: