September 4 Structural Failures Found in Newspaper Archives - An Engineer's Aspect


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Friday, September 4, 2009

September 4 Structural Failures Found in Newspaper Archives

The Daily Herald, Delphos, Ohio, Tuesday Evening, September 4, 1900.

Building Collapsed.

Mansfield, O., Sept. 4.--The Mansfield street car company's car barn, a frame building 90x160 feet, with slate roof, collapsed and is a total loss. Two boys, Willie Sams and Willie Secrist, each about 10 years of age, were injured by the falling walls.

The Brandon Sun, Brandon, Manitoba, Saturday, September 4, 1971

Sun Beams
By F. A. Rosser

LOCAL HISTORY: I think I've never had the privilege of meeting John T. McGregor of 58 Almond Crescent, Brandon, but I'd like to. For not only does this gentleman possess a sparkling memory, but what's of equal importance he has the talents to transcribe his reminiscences in highly literate form.

That being the case I'm delighted to turn this column over to Mr. McGregor so he may tell you of a historic event which occurred 68 years ago today.


Two men lost their lives when a farm steam engine they were operating crashed through the south approach of the wooden bridge on Second Street, on Monday, Sept. 4, 1903.

Mr. William Curle, a prominent farmer in the Alkenside district, had purchased a Port Huron steam traction engine from McLeod, Brandon agent for the Port Huron Engine and Thresher Co. As it is part of the contract for the agent to deliver the machine to the purchaser's farmstead, Mr. McLeod commissioned his master mechanic Richard Chambers to drive the engine to the purchaser's farm. Chambers drove the engine eastward down the centre of Rosser Avenue. Mr. Curle acted as fireman, hoping to gain practical knowledge in the operation of his new Port Huron.

A police officer followed on a bicycle to prevent boys from hitching a ride on the tender of the steamer. At the corner of Second Street and Rosser, the engine was turned north towards the wooden bridge across the Assiniboine River. While passing, Chambers tooted the whistle and waved to his wife at the door of their home at 24 Second Street. After crossing Pacific Avenue, the steamer advanced under reduced throttle down the grade and across the CPR tracks to cross Assiniboine Avenue, where the engineer opened the throttle and began the climb up the approach to the bridge. Just as the front wheels of the engine reached the first pier of the bridge the timbers gave way under the drive wheels of the engine and it crashed backwards 12 feet to the river bank, landing squarely on its rear end and instantly crushing to death the two operators.

Following the accident, the city engineer with his crew aided by volunteers cut away the timbers under the front wheels of the engine, allowing them to lower it into the river. In this way the engine resumed a horizontal position, thus permitting the removal of the two bodies from the crumpled tender and cab of the engine. Later the engine was pulled backward onto Assiniboine Avenue with the aid of a horse-powered capstan winch.

The engine was not seriously damaged, the tender and cab had absorbed the shock of the fall. Repairs were made promptly and two days later the engine proceeded on its way with a new crew, west on Assiniboine Avenue to Eighteenth Street, then north, crossing the new iron bridge to leave the city. The battle-scarred steamer arrived at the farm the day of Mr. Curle's funeral.

Harvesting is like show business—the show must go on, regardless of tragedy. The day following its arrival on the farm, Mr. Curle's son backed the Port Huron into the belt of a large thresher to begin a long history of successful threshing operations.

William Curle was born in Scotland in 1642. As a child he emigrated to Canada with his family, where his father took up farmig near Owen Sound. The oldest son, William, also began farming, and married in the late 1860s. The Curles joined a throng of settlers that flocked to Winnipeg in the late 1870s, eager to obtain a free gift of 320 acres of prairie land. After some deliberation, William and his father and brothers located on land near Aikenside. William prospered and expanded his farming operations. In the mid-1880s William Curle was granted the contract to carry the Royal Mail from Douglas to Aikenside. The contract required that the mail man carry a reliable watch. William Curle purchased a 21-jewel Waltham and it became his inseparable companion until the day of his death. When William Curle's remains were removed from the crumpled cab of the engine, the Waltham was found to be unharmed and still ticking resolutely. This octogenarian timepiece is now the proud possession of William Curle's grandson, Charles Curle of Winnipeg.

William Curle was buried at Hurnesville. On the Sunday following the funeral a memorial service was held at Aikenside school for the respected pioneer who gave to the community the first farm engine that would move by its own power.

Even though it was harvest time, everyone in North Brandon stopped work to attend “Dick” Chamber's funeral. Richard Chambers had homesteaded eight miles north of Brandon in 1880. For over 20 years “Dick” Chambers was respected as a good neighbor by the settlers of North Brandon. As soon as he secured the title to his homestead he mortgaged it and bought the first steam threshing outfit in the neighborhood. It became the focal point of Dick Chamber's good neighbor policy. His charges were moderate and he never refused to thresh a neighbor's crop.

The threshing season began in early September and ended in mid-December. Dick Chambers did not get rich as a farmer or as a thresherman. When his threshing machine became obsolete and worn out he had no money to replace it, so he sold his farm, bought a house in Brandon, and took a job as a thresherman master mechanic with McLeod in Brandon.

In addition to being a farmer and a thresherman, “Dick” was a humorist. He provided laughter at a time when there were few comic strips, no Red Skeltons, no salty TV quips. When I grew to the age of understanding, I was amazed to hear my elders still chuckling over jokes told by a man who died the year before I was born.

The tragic mishap of a steam engine crashing through the bridge had one good result. It proclaimed eloquently that the old wooden bridge was unsafe and had to be replaced by a modern steel bridge even though the city fathers and the Brandon taxpayers were alarmed at what the cost of a new $80,000 bridge would do to the mill rate of the Brandon tax structure. The campaign for a new bridge began in earnest. Finally in 1906 the opposition succumbed to the demand of progress and the contract was let for the construction of a new concrete and steel overhead bridge to be built on First Street, just east of the old wooden bridge.

Waterloo Daily Reporter, Waterloo, Iowa, Friday, September 4, 1903.


Business Block That Was Being Remodeled, Tumbled Down This Afternoon—It is Thought five Men are Under the Ruins.

Vinton, Sept. 4.--Special to Reporter—A two story structure known as the Quinn building, collapsed here about 2 o'clock this afternoon, burying several men. Five victims are thought to be lying underneath the ruins. The building was recently purchased by J. C. Parsons, a local jeweler, and the place was being extensively remodeled. While the employees were at work, the entire north front and the west side caved in and fell to the ground. Two of the unfortunate men who were caught were Bowen, a plasterer and Johnson, a lather, both of this place. It is thought three of four others were also buried. A large force of men is engaged endeavoring to extricate the victims. The ground floor was occupied by Mr. Quinn with a grocery.

Looking for Bodies.

A message to The Reporter from Vinton at 3:00 o'clock this afternoon told of the awful scenes enacted at the disaster while a large and willing corps of men was diligently searching for bodies. A revised statement of the accident discloses the fact that William Johnson, a lather, is the only person known to have been killed. His body had already been recovered. William Bowen, employed as a plasterer, and a resident of Vinton, was caught in the ruins and quite severely injured. George Titts, who was also engaged in work around the building, was unable to escape injury, but it was impossible to state the extent of his injuries at a late hour this afternoon.

The work of recovering the bodies of any additional victims who may have been buried beneath the ruins was carried on without positive knowledge of the number of men in the building. The crowds which gathered at the scene of the disaster immediately after the accident were immense and have waited eagerly for developments from the party of searchers.

Syracuse Herald, City Edition, Syracuse, N. Y., Wednesday Evening, September 4, 1929.

Workmen Buried When Building Collapses on Them

Cleveland, Sept. 4 (UP).--Several workmen were caught beneath debris today when the walls and roof of the Harshaw Chemical Company building here collapsed while being razed. The first man removed was Peter Coffle, who was seriously hurt.

Four workmen scrambled to safety before the crush.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sat., Sept. 4, 1963.

Two Missing in Bridge Collapse

KLAGENFURT, Austria (AP)--A bridge over the rain-swollen Drau river collapsed Saturday and 50 to 100 people toppled into the flood, but only two men were reported missing after a swift rescue operation.

Most of the group managed to swim to shore. Others were pulled out by solders in rubber boats.

Press-Telegram, Long Beach, California, Friday, September 4, 1964.

WASHINGTON (AP) – At least seven workmen were injured today when a concrete floor being poured in the National Press Club building collapsed.

The accident was in the space formerly occupied by the Capitol Theater and now being converted into offices.

Five of the men, not believed to be seriously injured, were taken to George Washington University Hospital. The others suffered skin abrasions and bruises.

The area, about 20 feet square, was a tangle of steel rods and fresh cement. A construction superintendent said he did not know how many men were pouring cement when the floor collapsed. He said he believed the floor may have caved in because the braces gave away.

A foreman said cement was being poured on a third floor area and he estimated the drop to the basement at between 20 and 30 feet.