Oconto Falls, WI Footbridge Collapses, Oct 1906

Ruins of the Footbridge Oconto WIS Bridge Collapse Accident 1906.jpg

BRIDGE FALLS; STUDENT DIES.

STRUCTURE CONNECTING THE TWO PLANTS OF PAPER MILL COLLAPSES AT OCONTO FALLS.

WATER BELOW SAVED THE LIVES OF MANY.

TWENTY-FIVE ON FOOTBRIDGE WHEN IT WENT DOWN -- MILL EMPLOYES LEAVE WORK TO AID IN THE RESCUE.

Oconto, Falls, Wis., Oct. 6. -- By the collapse of a foot bridge across the Oconto river yesterday afternoon a party of twenty-five students from the Oconto high school, who were out with their instructor, Prof. JAMES NEWCOMB, on an experimenting expedition, were plunged forty feet into the river.
One boy, DON BALLOU, 14 years old, was killed outright. Three others, VINA SENGIL, HAZEL DENISON, and FRANK DONLEVY, were probably fatally injured. Prof. NEWCOMB was badly injured and the others more or less hurt. About twenty were injured.
Victims Are Students.
The victims of the accident were members of the freshman class of the Oconto high school and were out taking an observation in physics. They had gone twenty-five miles to see the falls and study the rock formation.
The foot bridge, which was 200 feet long, connecting a huge paper mill with a pulp mill on the opposite side of the river, was used only by the employes of the mills and was not open to the public. Students at first were refused passage, but finally were allowed to go on in small parties.
The first division of twenty-five had gona across the bridge, looked at the falls, and returned. The second division of twenty-five with the instructor was engaged in looking at the scenery, when without warning the whole structure collapsed, hurling the students into the bed of the stream. The water being only three feet deep served to break the fall and saved many lives. The bottom was rocky and many were hurt on the stones. The falling timbers also crushed a number. Young BALLOU was killed by a beam which fell across his breast.
Mill Employes To Rescue.
The mill men saw the accident and in two minutes had the water shut off, thus saving the injured from drowning. The whole town, including the crews of the two mills, turned out, suspending all work, rescuing the injured and caring for them. The panic among the students was allayed with difficulty.
A special train was made up at Oconto and brought out doctors, nurses, and the parents of the victims. The wounded and the body of BALLOU were taken to Oconto on a special train last night, but several of the most seriously injured could not be moved.
Exaggerated reports of disaster had reached Oconto and hundreds were frantic with fear, not knowing whether their relatives were among those injured.
No inquest will be held, such a proceeding not being necessary, it is thought. The paper company is not regarded as liable for the disaster, as it had used every precaution.

Racine Daily Journal Wisconsin 1906-10-06