Nashville, TN Television Tower Collapses, Feb 1957


Nashville, Tenn. (AP) -- Four men working 700 feet above the ground were hurled to their deaths yesterday when a nearly completed, giant television tower buckled and crumbled to the ground.
The tower broke in the middle and both sections collapsed in a heavily populated residential area but miraculously did not strike any houses.
The new 1,262-foot broadcasting tower, which was to have been 1,379 feet when topped with the antenna, was being built for station WSM-TV by the John F. Beasley Construction Co. of Muskogee, Okla.
The four dead, workers for the construction company, were identified as:
DONALD WARD KINNAN, 25, Tucson, Ariz.
GEORGE PRESLER, 33, Union City, Tenn.
RAY H. MAXWELL, 33, Jacksonville, Fla.
ROBERT LEE KIRSHNER, 30, California, Mo.
HAROLD O'NEAL, 29, of Boonville, N.Y., a fifth steelworker, was treated for shock. O'NEAL had just climbed down from the tower and was inside the transmitter station.
Officials of the construction firm were at a loss to explain the collapse. A new type steel alloy, known as T-1, which officials said was supposed to be three times as strong as regular steel, was being used in the tower.
Theories that the vibrations from a jet plane passing overhead or high winds had collapsed the tower were discounted by the officials.
"I've never seen anything like it an I've been in the business for 34 years," said G.A. Wallenstrom, of Syracuse, N.Y., General Electric Corp. engineer present at the crash.
"We are going to try and find out what caused the tower to fall," he said. "I'm going to do everything I can, but I don't have much hope."
One of the fatally injured workers, KINNAN, was interviewed by a reporter for the Nashville Tennessean a week ago. At that time he said, "I would not drive a race car. To dangerous. My job's safe because I know what I'm doing. Besides, more people get killed stepping off curbs than in my line of work."
Freakishly, viewers of the WSM channel looking at "Modern Romances" were cut in on the telephone call from the transmitter station asking for help.
Televiewers suddenly heard an excited voice say, "Oh, my God. Send help! The tower has just fallen down. Help quick!"

Chester Times Pennsylvania 1957-02-05