Spokane, WA Bridge Collapses With Street Car, Dec 1915

Spokane WASH Division Street bridge collapse 1915.jpg



Spokane, Wash., Dec. 18 -- Seven persons were killed and ten were injured today when a street car went through the Division Street bridge over the Spokane River. The killed were in the car more than an hour after it went into the river. The injured were removed to a hospital.

Two street cars were on the bridge at the time of the accident. They were owned by the Washington Water Power Company. One of the cars was leaving the bridge when, the whole structure collapsed. One end of this car fell to the water and the other rested on the abutment. The car crew and two passengers were rescued uninjured.

The Astor-Division car which fell into the river was inbound and carried about twenty passengers besides the crew. A heavy steel beam fell lengthwise on the car as it went into the river. The beam crushed the passengers on one side of the car and two hours after the accident they could be seen still in the water.

One of the injured was reported to be dying. The bodies of two laborers were recovered in the course of the morning. Five still could be seen in the river. Two persons were reported missing.

All of the injured were residents of Spokane on their way to work. The accident happened before daylight and the falling bridge broke electric wires plunging the city into darkness.

The Washington Water Power Company, owners of the cars, denied responsibility for the accident in a statement by Thomas G. Aston, claim agent. He said the city owned the bridge and that the city had completed this week the resurfacing of the structure. Before the repair work was begun, according to Aston, engineers examined the bridge and pronounced it safe. Mr. Aston said a commission of engineers could give a cause for the accident.

JOHN EHR, motorman of the car which fell into the river, was one of the rescued. "I didn't have any warning and the whole section of the bridge seemed to drop suddenly," said EHR. "I was passing over the bridge at five miles an hour and heard steel snap. I didn't know that anything was wrong."

"The only sensation I felt was that I was falling a long distance in darkness. I do not know how I was saved. I just remember fighting water."

Ogden Standard Utah 1915-12-18