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Historic EVENTS in and around Welland


[Welland Tribune July 1917]

Ten Dead, Six to Ten Missing and Many are Injured


Niagara Falls, July 1  A trolley car on the Great Gorge route left the rails, plunged down a twenty-foot embankment and turned over in ten feet of water on  the edge of the Whirlpool rapids at 3.30 o’clock this afternoon.

The toll of the tragedy may never be known. Ten bodies are now in local morgues and identified. There are about 36 known survivors and three are known to be missing. It is estimated today that there are from six to ten persons missing. All are Americans from a distance.

A washout due to recent heavy rains, was the cause of the disaster, which occurred just below the cantilever bridge and 60 feet below the point where the smooth water of the upper reaches of the Niagara river breaks into the turbulent waters of the Whirlpool rapids.

There were more than 50 passengers on board according to general estimates. The car was one of the open kind, the seats extending from side to side, with steps on both sides the full length of the car.

The car was running about twenty miles an hour when it struck the weak spot in the roadbed. Less than half a minute elapsed from the time the motorman felt the first jarring sway until the car was bottom side the edge of the rushing rapids.

As it slipped down the twenty-foot line from the tracks to the edge of the river, men and women fought to escape and some of them were able to get free, but were unable to get a footing on the steep bank.

There was a  mad scramble in the shallow water between the wrecked car and the river bank and from the river side the bodies of at least two of the passengers were seen to be caught in the swifter waters and were carried down to the Whirlpool.

Members of the 74th regiment of Buffalo who were on guard at the cantilever bridge saw the accident and were the first to the rescue.

Warning of the weak spot in the roadbed had been telephoned but the company claims it was too late.


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