Illinois January 29, 2017
The Deadly History Of This Illinois Bridge Is Terrifying But True
Though all may seem well at the Clark Street Bridge today, that wasn’t always the case. A little over 100 years ago, an tragic event occurred that would change the lives of hundreds of families in the Chicago area.
Each year, Western Electric employees and their families cruised from Chicago to Michigan City, Indiana for a summer picnic.
The party was the talk of the summer every year.
The S.S. Eastland was one in a fleet of five ships meant to take the passengers to Indiana.
It held 2,500 passengers.
On the morning of July 24th, 1915, passengers boarded the ship for the yearly event.
The ship started to rock back and forth, and people began to slide around the decks.
Panic set in as the ship tipped on its side.
Passengers tumbled off the ship or were trapped below deck.
Since the accident happened so suddenly, no life jackets or rafts were dispersed, and the passengers were left to fend for themselves.
Many of them died nearly instantly from drowning or being knocked out by flying objects.
A huge rescue effort was quickly under way, with volunteer divers risking their lives to save those trapped in the ship or struggling in the water.
The Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Department of Health, United States Coast Guard, and professional divers all came to help rescue as many survivors as possible.
In total, 844 people died in this accident.
Most of the group was under the age of 25, and their lives were tragically cut short.
Funerals were held all over the city, and in some cases, many were held in one service.
Funeral professionals, undertakers, and grave diggers all worked overtime to try to serve the demand the best they could.
Today, the Clark Street Bridge still stands, with the murky waters beneath.
The event remains the deadliest in Chicago history.
Eastland Disaster Historical Society has since taken on the role of remembering this tragedy. Has your family passed down stories of this event? Let us know in the comments.