Guildhall, VT Steamer MARION Disaster, May 1873


We now pass to that terrible disaster, which cast such a gloom over this community, and took from our midst two of our smartest men: we refer to the accident of May 28th., 1873. For the better and cheaper transportation of material used in manufacturing the various articles produced by the mills at the village, a company was formed and a small steamboat built, which together with a barge 80 feet long and 12 feet wide, was used to accomplish the aforesaid object. They operated for one or two seasons below the fall; going down the river several miles, loading the barge and returning; this did not prove to be a very satisfactory undertaking, as they went down stream unloaded and returned loaded, and the current in the river is very strong just below the falls it took a long time to return. To overcome this obstacle they proposed to take the steamer in the Essex County Herald of May 31st., 1873, somewhat changed, yet we think it explains the situation better than we are able to. An accident, resulting in the death of JOSEPH CHASE, of the firm of Robert Chase & Co., and BENJAMIN F. POOLE, son of Jonathan Poole, Jr., occurred here about six o'clock, P. M., May 28th.

Mr. Chase, for the purpose of moving his barge above the dam, had erected a captain on the N. H., side of the river, near the end of the toll bridge, and attached the barge to it by a line. The current of the river is very rapid at this place, the water being sufficiently high to cover the dam, making no break where it flows over. Upon this barge were Mr. Joseph Chase, Mr. Benj. F. Poole, and fastened to the barge by a short line was a small skiff. As the barge was cast off from the shore, it was quickly carried to the middle of the river by the force of the current, and was slowly drawn up the stream by winding up the rope around the capstan. As the forward end reached the dam the water broke over it; the men at the time being on the rear end. The force of the current immediately carried it under, but not until Mr. Chase, foreseeing the accident, had time to cut the skiff loose.

When the barge went down the occupants were at once swept out, and all were struggling in the rapids. Mr. Chase unfortunately became entangled in a piece of line which was attached to the barge. The men in charge of the capstan, seeing the accident, let go the line which held the barge, and allowed it to float down the stream. As soon as the strain on the line on the capstan was loosened the barge floated, but it was filled with water. Mr. Chase was then seen for the last time alive struggling in the water below the barge, and as it floated down stream it went over him and held by the line in which he was thus entangled he met his death.

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