Ottawa Citizen 8 September 1898
Ottawa Citizen 6 September 1898
At noon today pier No. two, south channel, of the New York and Ottawa bridge fell, carrying two spans and a large number of workmen. Although figures could not be obtained it is known that the loss of life is very heavy. The accident has caused the most intense excitement in the town. Owing to the inaccessibility of the scene of the accident, only the most meagre account could be obtained.
Ottawa Citizen 7 September 1898
FOURTEEN KILLED, SEVENTEEN INJURED
A Terrible Accident on the New St. Lawrence River Bridge of the Ottawa and New York Railway.
Two Spans with the Men Working Thereon Were Precipitated Into the River by the Crumbling Away of a Pier
Cornwall, Ont., Sept 6. - The worst accident in the history of this town took place, about noon to-day on the south channel bridge of the Ottawa and New York Railway Company. Owing to Cornwall Island dividing the St. Lawrence at this point the company found it necessary to build the bridge in two sections, and it was the magnificent structure from Cornwall Island to the American shore, a distance of about fifteen hundred feet, collapsed and was almost totally demolished in to-day's terrible catastrophe. The bridge consisted of three spans, each of 570 feet in length, and 37 feet above the foaming water of the St. Lawrence, which at this spot is extremely rapid. The three spans are supported on four stone piers, one on the American mainland, two in the river and one on Cornwall Island. The two spans, close to Cornwall Island were finished, and the whole force of the Phoenix Bridge Company, of Phoenixville, Pa., which has the. contract for the steel work on the bridges, were employed on the span next to the mainland renewing the traveller.
At noon to-day or a few minutes after pier No. 2, counting from the American shore, suddenly crumbled and fell away into the swirling torrent, and it was followed with a mighty crash by the centre span and the span next to the American shore with the traveller and the swarming men on it, some of them at a height of 90 feet.
A Terrible Scene.The center span dropped straight into the river and then fell over towards the east, and now lies on the bottom of the river uninjured and plainly visible to anyone in a boat above it. But two men were working on it. They were fortunate enough to escape with a few bruises, but on the other span the scene was terrible and surpasses description. The men were working on the flooring of the bridge, and it was amongst these workmen that the greatest fatalities occurred. They were literally crushed beneath the heavy iron work of the bridge and traveller, and their corpses now lie at the bottom of the river, probably horribly mutilated and defaced. Not a single body has been recovered, and there is absolutely no hope whatever of finding any until the tremendous mass of wreckage has been removed. This in itself is a large contract, but nothing daunted by the terrible disaster, John W. Simons, the manager of the Phoenix Bridge Company at Cornwall, quickly had his entire force on the site, and after the first and most necessary duty of rescuing the wounded had been performed, the work of removing the debris was immediately started and good headway made.
Immediately after the crash workman, Indians and, in fact, everyone within the place were on the scene, and soon the river fairly swarmed with boats and tugs on their errand of mercy. Many a horribly mutilated man was quickly rescued, and so soon as it was reasonably certain that every living creature on the wreck had been taken off, the tug Beaver started for Cornwall with its mangled load of sufferers. She was met at the wharfe by a special car of the Cornwall street railway, and soon all the injured were tenderly placed in the Hotel Dieu and every physician within reach was quickly on the scene, and for several hours the operating room was kept supplied with patients. At latest accounts the seventeen injured are doing well, but several are feared to be mortally wounded.
The latest estimate of the killed given by the Phoenix Bridge Company is fourteen, and it is unlikely that this number will be reduced, but there is a possibility that the fatalities will exceed this estimate.
Following is a complete list of killed and wounded as nearly as can be given.
This list omitted
Supposed Cause of Pier Crumbling.The cause of his sudden crumbling away of the pier is generally thought to have been the action of the water on the concrete foundation. All of the piers have been put in upon a concrete foundation and pier number two which went today had stood the test of the ice last winter without perceptible damage. The only admissible theory, therefore, seems to be, as already stated, the action of the swift current upon the concrete. An investigation, which in all probability will soon be held, will determine the cause of the accident satisfactorily. In the meantime the grim fact remains that fourteen men have been called to their last account and seventeen others seriously injured, some fatally. There is absolutely no sign of the pier. It has disappeared as completely as if it were a card house.
Noted Lacrosse Player Injured.Some of the survivors tell thrilling stories of the sensations they experienced during the rush through the air. Some men on top of the traveller miraculously escaped without wetting a foot. Lewis White, a noted lacrosse player, jumped from the traveller to the solid ground and was seriously injured internally, fractured both ankles and strained his spine, but is still alive. The piers were built by Messrs Sooy, Smith and Co., of the Mills Building, New York. The manager of the company, Mr. Geo. E. Thomas, of Chicago, arrived here tonight from Chambly, Canton, Que., where he is managing another contract for his company.
The responsibility for the accident cannot, of course be placed until after a thorough investigation.
Ottawa Journal 7 September 1898
Swept Down to Death.
Many Lives Lost in the Cornwall Catastrophe
VICTIMS PINNED BENEATH BRIDGE IRON IN THE RIVER'S BOTTOM
Not a Moment's Warning of danger - How the Accident Happened - Piers Were Built of Concrete
Cornwall, Sept. 7. Fourteen persons are dead and seventeen seriously injured as the result ot the terrible catastrophe here yesterday in tbe collapse of a portion of the new bridge of the N. Y. & O. Ry. across the St. Lawrence.
Fortunately the gang of men at work was not as large as usual, the bridge being practically completed, or the loss of life would have been much greater.
A number of others have hands crushed, and are bruised and cut; but did not go to the hospital.
Tbe accident happened a few minutes before the noon hour, and several men who had been on tbe bridge had just walked ashore. Among them was Mr. Simmons, the Phoenix Bridge Company's chief engineer.
To a correspondent last night be said! "I can hardly realise that the bridge is gone. I told Mr. F. P. Anthony, the chief engineer ot the New York & O, Company, this morning that the bridge was practically ready for trains to cross. All that remained in their way was the hoisting engines on the shore span. A gang of men were at work taking down the big traveller, and a few rivetters were finishing the rivetting. I had just gone ashore, and was looking towards the bridge when all at once the pier in the centre of the two south spans seemed to crumble away, and the two completed and finished spans, with the 30 odd men working on them, tumbled into the water."
Pinned Beneath the Water.Most of the men were caught in the iron, and are probably pinned to the bottom of the river, which, at this point is over 30 feet deep. None of the bodies have been recovered, although the tug Beaver, with scows, divers and a gang of men worked all afternoon in the wreckage.
Many of the, wounded were hurt by jumping down to the bank.
The news was at once sent to Cornwall, and with all possible speed and care, the wounded were conveyed across Cornwall Island, and the north channel to Cornwall, where their wounds were dressed in the Hotel Dieu hospital. Every doctor in town was present, and willing hands did all that could be done to alleviate their sufferings
The Dead and Injured.Several of the victims of the accident were Indians.
The following is a list of the unfortunate men who were killed or drowned:
(list of killed and injured omitted)
LOUIS WHITE, the famous Indian lacrosse player, who played for three or four seasons with the Cornwalls, ankles are fractured and spine badly hurt, besides internal injuries.
The doctors have strong hopes that all of the injured men will recover, although several of them are in a very critical condition.
Naturally there were a number or hair-breadth escapes as the first intimation the men had of danger was when the pier disappeared like magic, and they were carried with the spans into the water. A few who were very close to the shore span, made a dash towards the shore, and some of these escaped.
Cause ot the Accident.The exact cause of tbe accident is very difficult to arrive at. The piers of the bridge were built last fall by the Sooyesmith Company, ot New York. The crib work was put together some distance up the river and floated down, to the proper location, where it was anchored and sunk to the bottom. The cribs were 62 by 16 feet. They were filled with stone and concrete to within a few feet of the top after which the water was pumped out and the layers of stone began. The locating of the cribs was accomplished with considerable difficulty, owing to the depth of the water and a ten mile per hour current. The three spans of the bridge were each 370 feet long and about 37 feet above the water. Each of the spans weighed in the neighborhood of 350,000 lbs. The span nearest the American shore settled on the false work, but the centre span toppled over on its side.
The loss including the necessary delay is said to be in the neighborhood of $100,000
Widowed Brides.The case of the two foremen Cubby and Jackson, was very sad. Cubby was married to a Cornwall young lady a couple of months ago, and Jackson was also only recently married. They were fine young men.
Louis White got his injuries while making a desperate leap for life. He was high up on the bridge near the American shore, and with his natural presence of mind took in the situation at a glance, and. running shoreward, he sprung off the bridge on to the rocks on tbe river bank, nearly fifty feet distant. He is one of the most intelligent and best educated Indians in Canada.
Another pathetic feature is the fact that when the first man to lose his life on the job, Wm. Macauley, was buried last week, his fellow workmen subscribed $175 to erect a monument over his grave, little thinking that in a few days many of them would share a similar fate.
Cyrill Campbell, a young man with his wife, recently returned to Cornwall from Marinette, Wis., is a native of South Indian, Ont. He was only employed a few days as painter. Davis was also a painter.
St. Catharines Daily Standard 7 September 1898
also Montreal Gazette same date.
An Appalling CatastropheCornwall Sept 6 - A terrible catastrophe took place here today, when, without a moment's warning, two spans of the new International railway bridge across the south channel of the St. Lawrence river were thrown into the water by the giving away of the pier which supported them in the centre. Fortunately the gang of men at work at the time was not as large as usual, the bridges being practically completed, or the loss of life would have been much greater. As it is the number of killed and drowned is 14, and the seriously wounded 17. A number of others others have hands crushed, and are bruised and cut, but did not go to the hospital.
Railway Bridge at Cornwall Collapses with Deplorable Results.
Fourteen men killed, eighteen hurt - accident happened just before noon. Agonizing scenes.
The St. Lawrence River runs past this town in two branches, Cornwall Island, a body of land of considerable extent intervening. Consequently it was necessary to build two bridges, and it was the magnificent structure from Cornwall Island to the American shore, a distance of about fifteen hundred feet, which went down in today's accident.
Most of the men were caught in the iron and are probably pinned in the bottom of the river, which at this point, is over 30 feet deep.. None of the bodies have been recovered, although the tug Beaver, with scows, divers and a gang of men worked all afternoon in the wreckage. Many of the wounded were hurt by jumping down on to the bank. The news was at once sent to Cornwall, and with all possible speed and care the wounded were conveyed across Cornwall Island and the north channel to Cornwall, where their wounds were dressed in the Hotel Dieu hospital. Every doctor in town was present, and willing hands did all that could be done to alleviate their suffering.
The dead - full details
The Wounded - full details
An eye witness to the terrible affair said he was sitting on the bank of the river watching the busy workmen above him, when suddenly without warning,there was a fearful crash and two spans of the bridge collapsed, and the immense mass of timber and iron dropped down, and the agonizing shrieks of the men who were being crushed in the wreck were drowned by the rushing water. Then he saw floating bodies coming to the surface, and the work of rescue began.. This was helplessly inadequate, there being only a few boats in the vicinity and very few men who would undertake to swim out into the turbulent waters. Many who might have been saved were drowned before help could reach them. Piteous appealing faces sank beneath the waters before the eyes of helpless onlookers, Bodies came to the surface for a moment and then passed out of sight, perhaps for ever. It was a terrible and heart rending scene. Words cannot depict its horrors. Even those who got to land alive were in such condition that many died on the way to hospitals. Some had their backs broken, others both legs, while others were crushed by the heavy iron. Among those who are missing so far are Cyril Campbell, William Jackson, Craig and W. Cubby. About 40 of the men employed on the bridge were Americans. The remainder were mostly Indians who acted as assistants. Every man of the division went down with the wreck. Many of those who escaped climbed up the iron work which still rested on piers at either end.
The latest news makes it probable that the death rate will reach fully 30 from todays disaster. As far as can be learned 87 were on the pay roll, of whom 82 reported for work this morning. Of this long list only 38 have actually been accounted for. Allowing that some of those unaccounted for will turn up after the excitement, the probable list of dead and injured will, in all liklihood reach over 25 and may reach 30. Among those thrown into the river was the foreman Thomas F. Brady, whose home is in Pottsville, Pa. He has not been accounted for up to a late hour tonight, and is supposed to be at the bottom of the river. All efforts to get a list of the names of the workmen and those of the missing have proved futile as yet. Everything was in a state of intense excitement all the afternoon, and the efforts of all were to care for the injured ones and get them to Cornwall Hospital as fast as possible.
Just before dark, the dead body of an Indian laborer was picked up on the Cornwall side. There was only a slight bruise on his forehead. He probably was stunned by the fall and drowned before help came.
Montreal Gazette 8 September 1898
Cause Unknown: No Reason yet Assigned for Cornwall DisasterNothing new has developed since the accident. Everything is at a standstill, as no attempts have yet been made to rescue bodies. All the injured are doing well, and unless unforseen complications set in they will recover. Those seriously injured are at the Hotel Dieu, where they are receiving the best of care, and one and all are loud in their praise of the good nuns who are doing their best to relieve the sufferers. Of the twelve men there, but one has had an operation performed, and no other operations are thought necessary. Several others who had minor injuries were fixed up and sent home. On the day of the accident, all the doctors.of the town volunteered their services, which acts of kindness has been much apprecieted, but now that everything is in hand, Doctors Gravely and Harrison are able to answer all calls.
When the sick were visited yesterday they were found to be cheerful, despite the fact that the doctors were dressing their wounds. Several of the men expressed themselves in strong terms upon the way the piers were constructed, which according to all accounts is the cause of this dreadful occurrence.
MR. WILSON'S STORYMr. J .F. Wilson, assistant foreman, was standing on one of the fatal spans. He is at the Hotel Dieu but is not seriously injured and will be around again in a few days. The sensation, he says is difficult to describe, when he felt the bridge swaying. He at ﬁrst thought that some of the false work had given away then it dawned upon him that the.pier;was going; He had ﬁve men near him at the time and, strange to say all escaped, with their lives, while another gang, not far distant were lost. Mr. Wilson fell on the up stream side, and it seems remarkable that he worked his way through the iron obstructions underneath the water and rose ﬁfty feet down the stream. He says he went to the bottom, and felt something pressing him down, then it liﬁtd, and being released, he gradually got free. This same man fell from the Victoria Bridge; at Montreal, some three months ago, and got some slight bruises, he came to Comwall, and increased his experiences in the perils of a bridgeman‘s life. Mr. Wilson says the pier gave way and a brother of his, standing on shore at the time, says it tumbled down like a heap of dominoes. He also brings out a circumstance, that one span had rested on this pier for a month, while the other one was placed there but a few days. Whether this increased weight was too much for it remains to be determined Mr. Wilson evidently had a struggle for his life, for when rescued his shirt and overalls were in ribbons.
A NARROW ESCAPEMr. G.A. Bloxson occupied a cot beside Mr. Wilson, and by a strange coincidence they appear to have been together during the whole time, and deservedly are so now in the Hotel Dieu. He was close to his friend when a loud report warned him what had happened. Someone yelled, "Jump!" but that was almost impossible when his footing was melting away, and "moving faster than thought. The sensation he experienced could not be described. There was ﬁrst a violent shock, and in a few seconds the span went down with a loud report. Mr. Bloxson feels sure he struck bottom, for he reached out his hand and got some gravel. Then, thirty feet under water, he felt his leg pinned by something, and although he received a compound fracture near the ankle, unaided he succeeded in freeing himself, and picking his way through a mass of iron, little by little came nearer to the surface, and great was is joy when he got close enough to the top to notice a gleam of daylight. Mr. Bloxson also fell on the up side, like his friend. When he was grovelling around the bottom of the St. Lawrence he thought it was all over, but he kept his head, although previously he had taken in a mouthful of water, he pluckily threw it out, and held his breath. When he got his leg free there was still a ﬂoor beam on top of him, but that was got rid of. Then, as if fate envied his lot, a big railway tie bounded up from the bottom and struck him in the back, just as he neared the surface. -Of course, this nearly settled matters, but as it turned out, the old bridge had shot its last bolt, and he was soon out of danger.
Like his friend,Mr. Bloxson came from the Victoria bridge, and was rather severely injured in the side. He, too, came to Comwall but got worse, and was in the hospital for a month, and only left it a few days ago, when this last mishap overtook him. His shirt was torn, and in fact he was in rags when pulled out. He says his days as a bridgeman are over, and he will try some other means of earning a livelihood. Although his leg is badly crushed the doctors hope to save it.
EXPERIENCES OF OTHER MENPeter Delahanty was another man who went down. His foot was injured, but he managed to get ashore. He describes the occurrence much as the others. The spar he was on began to sway and then doubled up. He was carried underneath the surface, but disentangled himself and came up. There was something wrong anyway, he says, but he does not pretend to know the cause of the break.
Alfred Fraser, a young man from Woonsocket, RI, is the only one so far who has suffered amputation His left foot was taken off above the ankle by the doctors. He says the span he was on ﬁrst began to rattle then doubled up, and when half way down to the water, it broke in two, and turned over. As it was going he jumped down stream into a mass of timbers, and going down some 20 feet, was held there. Though his foot was crushed he in some way got it free, and seizing a beam and came to the surface with it. Then he was picked up in a boat. He will naturally discard his present occupation, and expects in time to follow his trade as a horseshoer.
Mr. A. Smith was heating rivets when his attention was called from the work, by the loud noise of the falling bridge. He looked around, and tried to get a hold of something, but could not and fell with the mass of iron and wood. He remembers a sensation of trying to call for help when he was pinned down by a rail. It was across his chest, but the strong current helped him to get it off and he came up, and getting hold of some railway ties, remained there till picked up by a boat.
Louis White, the well-known Indian lacrosse player, was on one of the piers that collapsed, but was near enough the shore, so that by one of his oldtime sprints, he jumped in time, and reached dry land. The distance was some seventy feet, and of course, he got badly shaken up, and received some sprains. He does not remember anything after that till he found himself in the hospital. He is doing well.
There are several others walking around town, who were more or less injured, and in fact, one might almost think the-city had just passed through a siege of some sort. Louis David, an Indian went through the whole catastrophe, but is walking about as usual except he has one hand done up in a mere rage of a bandage, because of a few cuts. Fresh cases like this are cropping up all the time.
Mr. Parker talks
Mr. G.W. Parker, president of the New York & Ottawa, for which road the bridge was built when seen, expressed his disapproval of an interview, as matters had not reached a point where the public might be informed of the course to be pursued. He said, however, that undoubtedly the bridge would be finished as the company would not let one pier stand in the way of success. He could not say when work would be resumed, it all depended upon the decision of the directors of the road. With regard to the accident, the company had taken all precautions to have the best of materials used and have the best men use it. More than that they could not do.
An eminent engineer had designed the bridge, and the Sooysmith Company, which laid the foundations of the piers had a reputation in the United States second to none in that class of work, as the long list of their structures amply showed. Mr. Parker says the pier that gave out was built last fall, and stood the ice strain last winter to perfection, and that was thought to be the only danger.
When asked if he did not think the superstructure of the bridge being upon it, had caused it to give out, he said he was not a practical bridge builder, but the gentlemen of the Sooysmith Company had informed him that the effect would be just the contrary.
Being further asked whether he thought that special conditions existed here rarely found together, such as the current, had made it inexpedient to employ a concrete foundation, he said that point could only be found out by a thorough examination However, he had been informed by the Sooysmith Company that their faith was such that they would warrant the whole pier to stand if built of concrete.
DISCLAIM RESPONSIBILITYMr. J. Simmons, superintendent of the Phoenix Bridge Company, emphasized his desire of an interview by a profound silence that was almost of the grave. Mr. Deans, however, as civil engineer of the company, who appeared eminently qualiﬁed to speak, volunteered to remark, that, of course, their work was not at fault. The underpinning had failed and the bridge came down. That was all that could be said. He could not say when the men would be again put to work, they were waiting for the railway people to speak, and until then there would be a standstill. He could not say what was the cause of the accident, in fact, that did not concem them.
The Sooysmith people have not yet arrived as they ﬁnished their work some time ago. Their one representative here could not be seen, but indirectly it was understood, a cursory examination had been made, and it is claimed that part of the pier under water is still intact. Others say that if the pier is there it is no more than a heap of stones. It should be pointed out that a different contractor built the portion above the water. All this goes to show the great diﬁiculty in arriving at any correct explanation of the matter.
Seen from the remaining span of the south channel the wreck is but one mass of twisted iron girders. The two spans went into the water as if they were cut clean. The pier that gave out supported them in the middle, and naturally they were torn off. It seems a wonder that the other span was not brought down at the same time.
In order to clear the wreakage it is the general opinion that dynamite will be used. Any other way seems out of the question, at least until the mass has been separated into parts, when it might be raised out.
The physician of the Phoenix Bridge Company, seen tonight regarding the alleged death of Robert Martin, of Montreal, which was reported in a Montreal evening paper, says the story is not true. No man named Martin was hurt, and every man taken from the wreck is alive and progressing towards recovery. -A man named Robert Martin had been employed on the bridge, but the timekeeper says he had not turned up to work for several days prior to the accident, and he does not think he could have been in the wreck.
Ottawa Citizen 8 September 1898
THE BRIDGE DISASTER
All of the Injured Expected to Recover - The Wreck Inspected
Cornwall, Ont., Sept 7. - There is nothing of statling [sic] importance to chronicle today in connection with the O. & N.Y. bridge disaster. It has been raining here all day and consequently it was impossible to do anything at the work of removing the wreck. All the men had a holiday and spent it in town talking over the accident and telegraphing to their friends of their safety, and to the friends of the dead men and in arranging for the disposal of the remains when recovered.
The story to the effect that Robt. Martin of Montreal, was also missing has been proven to be a canard and the figure of the dead remains the same as yesterday, namely, fourteen.
Inquiries at the Hotel Dieu tonight elicit the information that all the injured are doing well and it is now anticipated that any other cases will prove fatal. Five of the slightly wounded men were released from the hospital today.
The wreck was inspected today by Mr George E. Thomas, manager for Soohsmith and Co., and Messrs. John Sterling Deans, chief engineer, and A. B. Milliken, superintendent of erection of the Phoenix Bridge Co., and F. D. Anthony chief engineer of the New York and Ottawa Construction Co. None of these gentlemen have anything to say as to the cause of the accident or upon whose shoulders the responsibility and liability rest.
It is said that dynamite will have to be used to remove the wreck in which case most of the bodies would suffer horrible mutilation. This statement cannot be traced to an authoritative source.
No statement could be obtained from the officials of the railway in regard to the rebuilding of the bridge
Almonte Gazette 9 September 1898
A Terrible Accident.
Fourteen men were killed and seventeen injured at Cornwall on Tuesday by the collapse of a pier and two spans of a partially constructed bridge on the New York and Ottawa R.R. across the St. Lawrence. Forty workman were on the bridge at the time, and all were precipitated into the water, with the above dreadful results. The bodies of the victims are pinned in the wreck. The accident is supposed to be due to the crumbling way of a pier.
List of killed omitted
Many of the wounded were Canadians, chiefly Indians of Cornwall Island. Some of those injured are likely to succumb to their injuries or be maimed for life the loss is put at $100,000.
Monteal Gazette 9 September 1898
Cornwall Disaster: Body of One of the Victims Recovered Yesterday
So far only one body of the ﬁfteen men who were killed or drowned in the O&NY bridge disaster has been recovered. It was found this morning about ﬁfteen feet from the American shore, and was pinned down by a steel rail. It was brought to shore without much difﬁculty and there recognized as all that was mortal of Daniel Hughes, of Cleveland, Ohio. The body was left in the water till coroner W.C. Smith was sent from Winthrop, NY. A jury was empanelled, and after viewing the body and the wreck, the inquest adjourned. The body of Hughes will be taken to Cornwall, and sent from here to Cleveland.
Some of the men who were looking for the bodies think they have located another one, but cannot raise it.
As regards what will be done to the wreck and the rest of the bridge much depends on the result of the inquest. A thorough inspection will take place before the wreck is removed or work resumed on the other bridge. One thing is certain the two spans are a total loss. The iron is in such a shape that none of it will be available for reconstruction, and the removal of it from the bottom of the river will be a very difficult undertaking. As for the pier it is worse than useless, being in the way of a new structure. There seems to be little doubt but that the number of dead and missing is ﬁfteen instead of fourteen. Robert Martin, of Montreal, had been employed on the bridge, but was away from town for several days. Some of the men are positive that he returned to town and went to work on Tuesday morning, but the time-keeper missed him, and so he was not reported in the official death list.
TO MAKE AN EXAMINATION
The disastrous failure of the bridge of the NY&O Railway over the American or south channel of the St. Lawrence River near St. Regis, in the state of New York, the falling of two spans of which resulted in the sacriﬁce of 14 lives, has given the Minister of Railways and Canals much concern, as this bridge has immediate connection with the railway system of Canada through the O&NY Railway at Cornwall. The minister, even though he has no legal control over the construction of this bridge, it being in a foreign country, feels it very important, that if possible, he should learn the cause of the failure of this structure, and therefore, he has given the chief engineer of his department instructions to send a member of his staff to investigate the matter, Mr. R.C. Douglas, C.E. bridge and hydraulic engineer of the department, has accordingly been detailed for this duty, and leaves tomorrow for the scene of the accident, taking with him the diving staff, and apparatus used for submarine work on the Lachine Canal.
The Phoenix Bridge & Iron Works, 29 McGill Street, Montreal, are in no way connected with the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, PA, the contractors for the bridge at Cornwall. The similarity of the names has in some instances led to confusion.
Ottawa Journal 9 September 1898
INDIANS FOUND TWO BODIES
WERE THOSE OF VICTIMS OF THE CORNWALL DISASTER
Inquests to be Held - The Building of the Railway Bridge Will be Resumed on Monday
Cornwall, Ont, Sept 9. A couple of Indians this morning found two dead bodies in the river near St. Regis Island and at once came to Cornwall to notify the authorities. Coroner Hamilton ordered them to take the bodies to Cornwall as they were found in Canadian water. They are doubtless a couple of the poor fellows who met their fate in the bridge disaster on Tuesday, but their identity cannot be established until they are brought here when an inquest will be held.
The .nquest on the remains of Daniel Hughes, of Cleveland. Ohio, found in the wreck yesterday, has been adjourned to meet at Helena, N. Y on Monday. The body was taken to Cornwall and shipped thence to Cleveland.
The Phoenix Bridge Company's local manager stated this morning that the work of completing the big bridge over the north or steamboat chansel would be resumed on Monday at the latest. The intention of the company is to complete the north bridge according to contract and as early as possible.
The two bodies found to-day are those of R.L. Dysart of Tyrone, Pa, and Wm. Saunders, of 140 Fort ave., Baltimore, M.D. No inquest will be held.
Ottawa Citizen 9 September 1898
To investigate the Bridge Disaster
BY THE RAILWAY DEPT.
Number of Victims Now Definitel Ascertained to be Fifteen
The disastrous failure of the bridge on the N.Y & O. railway over the American south channel of the St. Lawrence river near St. Regis, in the state of New York, the falling of two spans of which resulted in the sacrifice of 14 lives has given the minister of railways and canals much concern. As this bridge has immediate connection with the railway system of Canada through the O. & N.Y. Ry at Cornwall. The minister, even though he has no legal control over the construction of this bridge, it being in a foreign country, feels it very important that if possible, he should learn the cause of the failure of this structure, and therefore he has given the chief engineer of his department instructions to send a member of his staff to investigate the matter.
Mr. R.C. Douglas, C.E. bridge and hydraulic engineer of the department, has accordingly been detailed for this duty and leaves today for the scene of the accident taking with him the diving staff and apparatus used for submarine work on the Lachine canal.
Cornwall, Sept. 8. - (special) The body of one unfortunate victim of the bridge disaster was recovered from the waters of the St. Lawrence today.
The Phoenix bridge men had set to work early this morning and all day long the work of clearing away the wreck progressed steadily. The corpse which was recovered was espied early in the morning by one of the workmen and the efforts of the whole force were directed to recovering it. Fortunately it lay in comparatively shallow water and after a tremendous amount of labor the maze of iron beneath which the body lay was pulled off and hacked through and the remains of Daniel Hughes of Cleveland, Ohio, were tenderly taken out of his watery grave and placed on the river bank where they are now lying exactly in the same condition as they came out of the water. Coroner W.C. Smith, of Winthorp, N.Y., within whose jurisdiction the accident happened, was notified by wire and is now holding an inquest on the spot.
The Fifteenth Victim.It is now quite certain that the report of the death of Robert Martin is quite true. The denial of the story arose from the fact that the timekeeper stated that he had not been working for four or five days previously, and it was thought he had left the bridge but from the statements of the men who were working with him it appears that he had returned to work there that day and went down in the smash and has never since been seen. His family who live at 16 Guy street, Montreal, have been notified. This makes the number of dead fifteen. All the injured in the Hotel Dieu are progressing nicely.
Work on the north channel bridge has been stopped since the accident to the south channel spans and the Phoenix Bridge Co., declined to say when or whether they will recommence work. The mass of wreckage around the fallen pier in the south channel makes it impossible to get within a hundred feet of it and it will be some days before an examination can be made of the foundation by divers.
Cause of the Collapse.In the meantime no light can be thrown on the cause of the disaster. Three theories have been advanced to account for it and it would seem that one of them must be correct. The general opinion is that the action of the water undermined the concrete foundation of the pier and thus caused the overthrow of the bridge. The second theory is evolved from the statement of Captain Bonnar of the tug Beaver that the shore span broke first dragging down with it the pier and the center span.
This would mean a glaring structural defect in the steel work and is the least probable of the three. The third theory advanced is that the pier was too light for the purpose and that the weight of the spans, some 740,000 pounds, proved too much for it. In support of this view it is pointed out that no sooner had the last piece of false work been removed than the whole structure collapsed.
It is probable that several bodies will be recovered tomorrow as some of them can now be seen. Hughes' remains will be shipped to his family in Cleveland tomorrow.
Montreal Gazette 10 September 1898
So far the bodies of six of the unfortunate men who met their death in the collapse of the O&NY bridge have been recovered, but the remaining nine are still at the bottom of the St. Lawrence. The remains of Daniel Hughes, of Cleveland, which were recovered yesterday, were taken to Cornwall after the Coroner's jury had viewed them, and sent to Cornwall for interment. This morning a couple of St. Regis Indians found the bodies of two men who turned out to be Raymond L. Dysart, of Tyrone, Pa, and William Saunders, of 1410 Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD. The bodies having been found in Canadian waters, Coroner Hamilton, of Cornwall, was notiﬁed and ordered the remains to be taken to Cornwall. He decided not to hold an inquest unless requested to do so, and the bodies, both of which are badly decomposed, will be buried tomorrow in Woodlawn Cemetery. This afternoon the body of another man was found near the foot of Cornwall Island, and, like Saunders and Dysart, taken to MA McDonald & Co.'s Morgue. It was identiﬁed as the remains of Robert Martin, of Montreal, the man whose presence on the bridge at the time of the accident was in doubt. His remains will be sent to Montreal for interment. Two other bodies found in the river this afternoon about 200 yards below the wreak are detained at the American side till Coroner Smith, of Winthrop, holds an inquest. These bodies have been identiﬁed as Patrick Murphy, of Toronto, and John Clause, an Indian from Caughnawaga. They also are badly decomposed.
The Phoenix Bridge Company expect to resume work on the big cantilever bridge over the north channel on Monday. This will be a much heavier bridge than the one destroyed, and contains a cantilever span of 420 feet long.
Mr. R.C. Douglas, C.E. of the Department of Railways and Canals, has arrived in town to make an unofﬁcial enquiry into the accident on behalf of the Dominion Government. He has a staff of expert divers and river men, who will examine the wreck.
The inquest on the body of Hughes has been adjouned to meet in Helena, NY, on Monday.
Ottawa Journal 10 September 1898
SIX BODIES RECOVERED
Cornwall Sept. 10. - Six bodies of victims of the bridge disaster had been recovered up to last evening. The three latest victims found are Robert Martin, Montreal; Pat Murphy, Toronto, and John Clauss, of Caughnawaga. Nine are still missing,
Ottawa Citizen 10 September 1898
THE INQUIRY HAS BEGUN
An Inquest Opened on One of the Victims of the Bridge Disaster.
Cornwall, Ont., Sept. 9,. - Special. The inquest on the body of Daniel Hughes whose body was the first to be recovered from the bridge wreck which was held last night went no futher than the empanelling of a jury by the coroner W.C. Smith of Winthrop, N.Y., and the viewing of the body after which an adjournment was made to Helena, N.Y. till Monday next. It appears that Hugh's arm was pinned down by a heavy iron rail and death was caused by drowning. He had sustained no injuries whatever.
The bodies of five victims of the bridge disaster here were recovered today. This morning word was brought from St. Regis that an Indian had found the bodies of two men floating in the water near St. Regis Island. Rough boxes were immediately sent over by M.A. McDonald & Co., the bodies were brought here where they were identified as those of R.L. Dysart, of Tyrone, Pa., and W. Saunders, of Baltimore, Maryland. This afternoon the body of Robert Martin of Guy street, Montreal was found floating in the water along the Cornwall Island shore. Two other bodies, those of Pat Murphy of 129 Bathurst Street Toronto and John Clause of Caughnawaga, Que., came to the surface about three hundred feet below the scene of the accident. The relatives of the men were immediately notified. This makes six bodies in all recovered. Nine are still missing.
A small force of men are still working at the wreck. Your correspondent saw Captain Bonnar, of the tug Beaver tonight and was informed by that gentleman that there was no truth whatsoever in the statement he had seen the bridge fall and that the shore span had broken first dragging the pier and the other span with it. He was in the engine room at the time and the crash was the first intimation he had of the disaster.
Mr. Robert C. Rouglas, [sic], the engineer detailed by the minister of railways and canals to investigate the cause of the accident arrived here today and registered at the Rossmore.
Montreal Gazette 12 September 1898
The Cornwall Disaster: So Far the Bodies of Twelve Victims Have Been Recovered
Yesterday the St. Lawrence gave up several more victims of the O&NY bridge catastrophe. Twelve in all have so far been recovered. Those still missing are Harry Davis, painter, of Pittsburg; Louis Baumer, of Johnstown, Pa, and J .D. Craig, of 221 Franklin Street, Detroit, Mich. In all six bodies were found yesterday. All were picked up in Canadian waters from the foot of Cornwall Island to St Regis. The body of W.J. Cubby was brought to Cornwall on Saturday morning on the same boat that brought the remains of Clause and Murphy, who had been found the previous day near the American shore, and held there pending action by Coroner Smith of Winthrop, NY. Cubby, whose home was in Patterson, NJ, although only 27 years of age, was one of the Phoenix Company's trusted foremen. His remains were in bad shape, and were recognized principally by his clothes, watch and ring His young wife, nee Miss Berth McDonald, of Cornwall, was terribly grief stricken. The remains were interred yesterday afternoon in Woodlawn Cemetery. The body of W.J. Jackson, of Columbus, Ohio, another foreman, was also found, and was taken by Mrs. Jackson, and other relatives to Windsor, Vt, today. Daniel Hughes' remains were shipped to his home in Cleveland, Ohio, Patrick Murphls to Toronto, John Clause's to Caughnawaga, Robert Martin's to Montreal, and Frank Lavigne's to Ogdensburg, NY.
The remains of Cyril Campbell and Thomas Binningham were interred this morning in St.
Columban's Cemetery, and those of William Shennan, William Saunders and R.L. Dysait in Woodlawn Cemetery. MA McDonald & Co.'s morgue, where the bodies were laid out, presented a gruesome scene, which will never be forgotten by those who saw it. In almost every case the bodies were so badly decomposed that identiﬁcation was rendered possible only by the clothes. Cyril Campbell was in his twentieth year. He was a native of Newington, Stormont county, and was married in January at Marinette, Wis. He had been employed as a painter on the bridge. His young wife arrived here only eight days previous to his death. His parents have had a lot of hard luck. Two years ago an elder son was killed in a saw mill at South Indian, and last fall they were burned out and left homeless by the big bush ﬁre. He was a brother of J.L. Campbell, of Cornwall. Birmingham was a native of Dublin, Ireland, and was not known to have any relatives on this side of the Atlantic. Shennan was a native of London, England, and has no relatives here. He was employed for several years by William Davis & Sons, contractors, on the Cornwall Canal.
George H. Parker, president of the New York & Ottawa Company; Sterling Deans, of the Phoenix Bridge Company, and Edwin S. Jarret, of the Sooysmith Company, left today for New York, where a conference will be held tomorrow to determine whether the work of completing the south bridge will be at once proceeded with or action delayed until the responsibility for the accident is decided. The foremen of the Phoenix Bridge Company say that the work on the cantilever span over the north channel will be resumed tomorrow morning. R.C. Douglass, the Dominion
Govermnent engineer, visited the wreck yesterday, and will continue his investigation tomorrow.
Ottawa Citizen 12 September 1898
THE BRIDGE DISASTER
All But Two of the Bodies Recovered. Conference to be Held.
Cornwall. Sept. 11. - special - all the bodies of the victims of the bridge disaster have been recovered except those of Zanmer Craig and Davis. All the bodies recovered yesterday were in a horrible state of decomposition and hardly recognizable.
The funeral of W.J. Cubby, who was well known in Cornwall was held yesterday and was very largely attended.
The injured in the Hotel Dieu are doing well. Work will likely be recommenced on the cantilever span of the north channel tomorrow morning.
Mr. R. C. Douglas, the Canadian government engineer, visited the scene of the wreck yesterday in the steamer Ivy, but made only a cursory examination. A conference between representatives of the Ottawa and New York Railway Company, the Phoenix Bridge Company and Sooysmith and Company, will be held in New York tomorrow morning, to determine what steps shall be taken with a view to rebuilding the south channel bridge.
The coroner's inquest on the body of Dan Hughes, of Cleveland, the first victim found, will be continued tomorrow at Helena.
Ottawa Journal 12 September 1898
RIVER GIVES UP ITS DEAD
BODIES OF SIX VICTIMS OF CORNWALL DISASTER FOUND
Only Three are Still Missing - The Sad Case of a South Indian Victim - Names of the Dead Recovered
(Special to the Journal)
Cornwall, Sept. 12.- of the 15 men who lost their lives in the O. & N.Y.bridge disaster here last week the bodies of 12 have so far been recovered. The men who are still held down by the iron or are in the embrace of the St. Lawrence are J.D. Craig, of Detroit, Mich.; Harry Davis of Pittsburgh, Pa., and H. Baumer, of Johnstown, Pa. The number of bodies recovered yesterday was six (names omitted)
A very sad case is that of young Campbell. He was born in Newington, Stormont county, 20 years ago, but his father, John Campbell, has for several years past been living at South Indian. The family has been singularly unfortunate for besides losing all their worldly possessions in the big bush fires at South Indian last fall, this is the second son to meet a violent death while in the prime of young manhood. A brother of the deceased was instantly killed in a sawmill accident at South Indian two years ago. Cyril, who was married about 8 months ago in Marionette, Wis., came to Cornwall a couple of months ago and secured employment as a painter on the bridge which was to be the scene of his death. His young wife arrived here the other day. All the bodies for a very badly decomposed.
Montreal Star 13 September 1898
THE CORNWALL BRIDGE
Government Officials to Put a Diamond Drill to Work to Ascertain Facts
(Special to the Star)
OTTAWA September 13 - The Department of Railways and Canals have arranged to put a diamond drill st work on the piers on the Canadian end ot the new bridge across the St. Lawrence at Cornwall. This will enable the engineer Mr Douglass [sic] who is in charge of the departmental inquiry to ascertain the character of the material used in the construction of the work and if it is not found to be satisfactory the contractors for the superstructure will not be allowed to proceed. Divers will also be employed to examine portions of the piers below the surface.
Ottawa Citizen 13 September 1898
To Test the Piers.
Until the investigation now being conducted by Mr. R.C. Douglas, of the Department of Railways and Canals has been completed it will be impossible to determine the exact cause of the failure of the pier of the New York and Ottawa bridge, the collapse of which caused the terrible disaster of last Tuesday. The wreck occurred in the south channel of the St. Lawrence, which is in United States territory so that the submarine inspection of the fallen period is in a measure being carried on in an unofficial way.
The piers in the north channel, however, are on the Canadian side, and the chief engineer of Railways and Canals, Mr Collingwood Schreiber, has determined that they shall be thoroughly tested before the the spans are put up and the bridge used for traffic. To that end he has ordered that a diamond drill be dispatched to the spot and both piers and abutments examined. By means of a diamond drill a core can be taken out clear through the masonry, from the surface of the pier into the very concrete foundation, which rests upon the river bed. This will demonstrate the exact quality of the mason work and foundation upon which the piers rest. The drill will be put to work at once.
Ottawa Journal 13 September 1898
TO TEST THE PIERS
The department of railways and canals is sending a diamond drill to the Ottawa and New York Railway bridge at Cornwall so that all the masonry in the piers on the Canadian side may be thoroughly tested before the spans ar all put up and the bridge open to traffic.
Quebec Daily Mercury 13 September 1898
Ottawa Sept. 13 - The Chief Engineer of Railway and Canals has determined that the Ottawa & New York railway bridge will be thoroughly tested before spans are put up and the bridge used for traffic. To that end, he has ordered that a diamond drill be dispatched to the spot and both piers and abutments be examined. By means of a diamond drill a core can be taken out clear through the masonry from the surface of the pier into the very concrete foundation which rests on the river bed. This will demonstrate the exact quality of the mason work and foundation upon which the piers rest. The drill will be put to work at once.
Monteal Gazette 14 September 1898
The Cornwall Disaster: No More Bodies of Those Who Perished Recovered
There have been no developments of any account in regard to the bridge disaster in Cornwall since Saturday. Three bodies still remain in the embrace of the mighty St. Lawrence. The inquest on the remains of the ﬁrst body found, that of Daniel Hughes, was resumed at Helena, NY, today, Coroner Smith, of Winthrop, presiding. There was an array of legal talent, and all the interested companies were represented. The inquest was adjourned without hearing any evidence until October 5, when it is believed some deﬁnite knowledge will be forthcoming. The Phoenix Bridge Company had a small gang of men at work today removing engines from the shore span to the bank.
Until the investigation now being conducted by Mr. R.C. Douglas, of the Department of Railways and Canals, has been completed, it will be impossible to determine the exact cause of the failure of the pier of the New York & Ottawa bridge, the collapse of which caused the terrible disaster of last Tuesday. The wreck occurred in the south channel of the St. Lawrence, which is in the United States territory, so that the submarine inspection of the fallen pier is in a measure being carried on in an unofficial way. The piers in the north channel, however, are on the Canadian side, and the chief engineer of the railways and Canals, Mr. Collingwood Schreiber, has determined that they shall be thoroughly tested before the bridge is used for trafﬁc. To that end he has ordered that a diamond drill be despatched to the spot, and both piers and abutments examined. By means of the diamond drill a core can be taken out clear through the masonry from the surface of the pier into the very concrete foundation which rests upon the river bed. This will demonstrate the exact quality of the mason work, and the foundation upon which the piers rest. The drill will be put to work at once.
Ottawa Citizen 14 September 1898
Cornwall Bridge Disaster.
Mr. R.C. Douglas, of the department of railways and canals has returned from the scene of the New York and Ottawa railway bridge wreck, whither he was dispatched to examine the collapsed pier and report upon the probable cause of the disaster. So far as can be learned, however, the conditions were not favorable to such a thorough investigation as Mr. Douglas was desirous of making. The site of the pier is covered with a mass of wreckage, and, besides the ironwork and wooden false work of the collapsed spans lies like a mighty dump athwart the stream. With an ordinary current of 5 to 5 1-2 miles per hour the conditions resulting from this obstruction render diving operations around the pier impossible. No doubt the investigation will be proceeded with as soon as the wreckage has been removed.
Up to the present neither the State of New York nor the Federal government has dispatched an engineer to investigate the disaster. The reason for this delay is probably that the State authorities are loth to interfere with the functions of the Federal government, whose jurisdiction properly extends to international waters.
Ottawa Citizen 19 September 1898
THE CORNWALL BRIDGE
Completion Delayed for Some Time - The Contractor's Dilemma
Cornwall, Sept. 16. - (special) the Freeholder tonight says " President Parker of the New York & Ottawa Co. returned yesterday from New York where he went on Sunday afternoon to consult with the directors of the company as to the rebuilding of the wrecked bridge. Mr. Parker informed the Freeholder that it was decided to go ahead as rapidly as possible, but there were a number of difficulties in the way, chief among which was the removal of the debris. Until this was done it would be impossible to say whether the new pier could be placed in the same spot as the old one.
If not new plans must be prepared and accepted by the government. There was no machinery in Canada as far as known which could be used to remove the debris and to bring such appliances from New York would it take some time as they must come by sea. If they could go to work at once Mr.Parker said there would be no question of completing the bridge this year but in view of the uncertainty it was doubtful.
The fixing of the responsibility for the disaster was still unsettled and likely to remain so for some time. J.L. Weller of the canal engineering staff Cornwall who has been co-operating with Mr. Douglas, the Canadian government engineer has procured some heavy anchors which will be used to hold a skow as nearly as possible over the site of the wrecked pier and endeavor to ascertain what condition it is in.
Up to the present neither the state of New York nor the Washington government has dispatched an engineer to investigate the disaster. The reason for this delay is probably that the state authorities are loth to interfere with the functions of the Federal government whose jurisdiction properly extends to International waters.
Three bodies still remain in the river and probably will not be recovered until the debris is removed. That is a force of about fifty men working now on the north channel bridge.
Montreal Gazette 21 September 1898
THE BRIDGE DISASTER.
An Engineering Authority on Its Probable Cause.
The Engineering News, of New York, in discussing the Cornwall disaster, says:
Principal Interest, of course, centres in the contructlon of the pier which went down with the two spans. The river at the site of the pier is about 35 feet deep, and has a swift current, said to be about 5 to 8 miles per hour. The river bottom is a clay hard-pan in which are imbedded boulders, many of them of large size. The pier was founded by sinking a timber crib 18 feet wide, 62 feet long and 38 feet in height, and filling it with conrete deposited under water by bucket arranged to empty automatically on striking the bottom. The anchoring and sinking of this large crib in the deep water and swift current was a task of great difficulty. To accomplish it a small crib filled with stone was sunk upstream to serve as an anchorage and a 3 inch steel cable was led from this to the pier crib, which was also supported by a barge on each side. Cables led to the river bank were used to swing the crib in the stream till it was in the correct position.
The swift current made it impossible to examine the bottom by divers before sinking the crib. Soundings were taken over the site of the crib, however, and the crib bottom was scored to correspond to the depth thua obtained.
After the crib was down divers went down inside and obtained samples of the bottom, which was deemed satisfactory by the engineer, and the work of concreting began. The first concrete laid, to the amount of about 50 cubio yards was deposited in bags, all of which were placed by divers around the sides of the crib. The remainder of the concrete was then deposited from a bucket holding about 1 cubic yard, arranged to dump automatically on contact with the bottom. The concrete was deposited in successive layers of about 18 inches over the whole area of the crib, and divers reported its as setting satisfactorily.
The concrete was mixed by hand pn the proportions of 1, 2 and 5, using Glen's Falls Portland cement. It may be said here that the crib itself was built of 12-inch timbers, drift-bolted together, crossties of the some size were inserted at 10 feet intervals, the vertical spacing being about 4 feet.
The concrete was carried up to a point 4 feet below water level, and was then pumped dry, the top of the crib projecting above the water forming a coffer-dam. The top of the concrete appeared in good condition, and upon it the masonry was started. Two courses were laid and then work was shut down for the winter, all the above-described work having been carried out last fall. During the winter the pier was subjected to heavy ice pressure, which, as most engineers know, is a severe test of any pier built in the swift current of the St. Lawrence; but it was not moved. Early in the spring, we are informed; it was struck by a heavy timber raft, which was broken up by the collision, and the pier showed no injury.
Work on the piers was resumed in the spring and they were built up to their full height of about 35 feet above the water, making the total height about 70 feet from the river bed to the pier coping. The masonry of the piers was rock-faced ashlar, with a backing of Portland cement concrete.
The specificatlona and working drawings for the bridge were made under direction of Mr. F.D. Anthony, chief engineer of the New York & Ottawa, Railway Company, and were approved by Mr. A.A. Stuart, M. Am., Soc. C.E. now engineer of the Degnon-McLean Construction Company, of New York city, who was consulting engineer to the railway company. They were also approved by the Canadian Government engineers.
The report has been widely published that a tugboat captain who witnessed the accident declared that he saw one of the spans break in two first, and pull the pier over. Later accounts are to the effect that this man now says he was in the engine-room when the accident occurred, and was not in a position to see whether span or pier fell first.
We may note that the north end oi each span is in each case the fixed end. Thus on Pier 2. which fell, the channel span rested on expansion rollers, while the shore span, which still had the falsework under it, was anchored to the coping. The channel span turned partly on its side in falling, and its end-shoe is now about 25 feet south of Pier 3, on which it formerly rested. The shore span carried the false work down with it, and falling into the shallow water, made a tangled mass of wreckage, as shown in the illustrations.
The masonry of Pier 2. is located considerably to one side of the concrete base. We understand that this was made necessary to bring the pier in correct position, the crib being sunk a little to one side of its correct location.
The above comprises practically all the facts we have been able to obtain bearing upon the causes of the accident up to the time of going to press. The mass of debris in the river and the swift current have thus far prevented any examination by divers of the base of the fallen pier.
We believe engineers will generally agree that the facts thus far presented all point to the pier and not the span as the point of original failure. It is difficult to conceive how it would be possible for the failure of a member in either of the spans, and its consequent fall, to pull the pier over. There are many accidents on record of bridge spans falling or being blown down, but we cannot recall one case where a falling span took the whole pier with it. Besides this, of the two spans that fell the falsework had been removed from under the river span; but this fell practically intact, showing that it did not break in two and drag the other down. The falsework was still under the other span, and in case any member of that span had failed, the false work would have supported it, in all probability. Still again, the testimony of eyewitnesses is that the pier "crumbled "away.
Assuming, then, the pier to be the cause of the accident, let us see where the failure was most likely to occur. In this connection, it seems to us, that a most noteworthy feature of tho accident is that it came absolutely without warning. There was no peremptory cracking or settling. Now this is exactly contrary to the way in which masonry structures sct. Overloaded masonry cracks and gives warning of its condition long before final failure occurs; overloaded footings give evidence by settlement that something is wrong. To account satisfactorily for the failure of the Cornwall pier, therefor, we must find some cause which would drop the pier into the river without previous settlement or cracking of the masonry; and the only cause which seems sufficiently probable to deserve acceptance is the gradual undermining of the pier by the current.
The bed of the river is a clay hard-pan, according to our best information, overlaid with the usual layer of pebbles and boulders common to swift running streams in this region of glacial action. If the current is increased in swiftness enough to remove this protecting layer of boulders the clay beneath might be gradually washed away.
It is possible that the driving of the falseworks for erecting the spans so increased the current next the piers to wash away the boulders and clay, until finally the structure becume so unstable as to topple over.
The narrow base of the pier (18 ft.) in proportion to its height (70 ft.) has been criticised. It will be readily seen that two or three feet erosion under the side of so narrow a pier leaves an uncomfortably small margin of stability.
This is especially the case if the pier masonry was placed on the same side of the concrete mass as that under which erosion occurred. The reason for using such narrow cribs was, doubtless, the swiftness of the current; the difficulties of sinking cribs in such a channel, of course, increase greatly with every foot of width.
Besides erosion under the pier, the only other hypothesis which could account for the sudden failure of the pier is the bursting of the crib. If the concrete deposited under water did not set, but remained a semi-fluid mass, then it might eventually exert a pressure upon the sides of the crib which would pull out the cross braces and the whole pier would settle down. It seems quite impossible, however, that the concrete can have so absolutely failed to set as would be necessary to make this hypothesis true. It seems much more reasonable to ascribe the accident to erosion, at least until such a time as the condition of the fallen pier and crib is more fully known.
Ottawa Citizen 22 September 1898
THE CORNWALL DISASTER
Another Body Recovered - Site of Pier to be Thoroughly Examined.
Cornwall, Ont., Sept. 21. (Special.) The St. Lawrence gave up one more victim of the bridge disaster to day. Early this afternoon a dead body was found floating a short distance below the wreck. It was placed on the tug Beaver and brought to Cornwall where it now lies in the undertaking rooms of M. A. McDonald & Co. The body is badly decomposed, but has been identified as that of Harry Davis, of Pittsburg, Pa. His friends have been communicated with, and the body will be disposed of according to their wishes. As far as known, there are now only two bodies under the wreck, those of Baumer and Craig. Arrangements are being made for the removal of the wreckage and for a thorough examination of the site of the pier. Mr. Robert C. Douglass, [sic] the Canadian government engineer, is still here, Work on the north channel bridge is progressing steadily.
Montreal Star 22 September 1898
ONE MORE BODY
That of Harry Davis One of Cornwall Bridge Victims Found
(Special to the Star) CORNWALL Ont September 22 - The St. Lawrence gave up one more victim of the recent Ottawa and New York Railway bridge disaster yesterday. Early in the afternoon a dead body was found floating in Canadian waters about a mile below the scene of the wreck. It was placed on the tug Beaver and brought to Cornwall. The body though badly decomposed has been identified as that of Harry Davis of Pittsburg Pa. Davis was a painter by occupation and was killed along with his mate. His relatives in Pittsburg have been communicated with and the body will be disposed of according to their wishes. As far as known there are now only two bodies under the wreck Those of Beaumer and Craig. Arrangnnents are being made for the removal of the wreckage and for a thorough examination of the site of the pier. Mr. Robert C. Douglas, the Canadian Government engineer assisted by Mr. T.L Weller of the Cornwall Canal staff of Engineers is still busily engaged at the scene of the disaster. Work on the cantilever span of the north channel bridge is progressing steadily.
Montreal Gazette 22 September 1898
Another Body Recovered.
Cornwall, Ont., September 21. (Special) Another of the victims of the recent O. & N. Y. bridge disaster was found today in Canadian waters about a mile below the wreck and was taken to Cornwall where it now lies at M.A. McDonald & Co.'s morgue. The body was identified as that of Harry Davis, one of the painters who were at work on the bridge at the time of its collapse. He was a young man and hailed from Pittsburg where his mother now resides. She was telegraphed to in regard to the disposition of the body. Two bodies are still unrecovered.
Ottawa Journal 22 September 1898
The body of yet another victim of thr bridge disaster at Cornwall was recovered yesterday. It was that of Henry Davis of Pittsburg. Pa.
Almonte Gazette 23 September 1898
Capt. Wm. Leslie of Kingston, is negotiating with the company constructing the bridge across the St. Lawrence River at Cornwall to secure the work by raising the sunken iron span. He has looked over the wreck, and is confident that with the aid of steel pontoons, the arch can be raised and towed to shallow water, where it will be beached and ultimately recovered. The undertaking will be a hazardous one, but the bridge company evidently considers it feasible, as Capt. Leslie has been summoned to New York to consult with the directors.
Montreal Star 24 September 1898
No attempt has yet been made to remove the debris of the fallen bridge in the south channel at Cornwall.
Cornwall Freeholder 30 September 1898
George Bloxom, one of the men who was badly injured in the recent O&NY bridge disaster, had his leg amputated at the Hotel Dieu Tuesday morning. The leg was broken at the ankle and badly lacerated and a consultation of the medical men resulted in a verdict that it would have to go.The bones were terribly crushed and would not knit. The leg was cut off a short distance below the knee. All the injured men are doing well.
Mr. Douglas of the Department of Railways and Canals, who has in charge the investigation of the piers and foundations of the Comwall bridges, on behalf of the Government, will have the necessary machinery on the ground next week. The operations will be looked alter by Mr. Weller of the Canal Engineering staff here.
A medical gentleman, who bothers himself a little over psychological problems, was talking to one of the bridge victims who still remains in the Hotel Dieu, the other day, and asked him to say what he thought about when he was falling. "Well Doctor," said the victim, "it would take, me an hour to tell what passed through my mind in a second." "When you got to the bottom of the river," again queried the doctor, "did you make any resolve?" "Oh yes!" "Well, what was it?" "Well, doctor, I made up my mind I would hold my breath till I bust."
The removal of the wrecked spans of the south channel bridge is a pretty heavy job, a huge gamble in fact, and though a number of interested parties have visted the spot hardly any two of them agree as to the means to be pursued to take the enormous mass of steel out of the river. It is likely the contract will be let within a day or two and the operation will be viewed with much interest as the conditions are very peculiar. Mr. Thomas, manager of the Sooysmith work, has been in town this week getting ready to clear off the debris from the old pier and to rebuild it. He will probably begin work very shortly, it being the intention to lose no time in completing the bridge.
Montreal Gazette 1 October 1898
Raising of the Sunken Bridge a Work of Great Difficulty
Cornwall, Ont. September 30. - Mr. Douglas, of the Department of Railways and Canals, who has in charge the investigation of the piers and foundations of the Cornwall bridge, on behalf of the government, will have the necessary machinery on the ground next week. The operations will be looked after by Mr J.L. Weller, of the canal engineering staff here. The removal of the wrecked spans of the south channel bridge is a pretty heavy joby, [sic] a huge gamble in fact, and though a number of interested parties have visited the spot, hardly any two of them agree as to the means to be pursued to take the enormous mass of steel out of the river. It is likely the contract will be let within a day or two, and the operation will be viewed with much interest as the conditions are very peculiar. Mr. Geo. E. Thomas, manager of the Sooymith [sic] work, has been in town this week getting ready to clear off the debris from the old pier, and to rebuild it. He will probably begin work very shortly, it being the intention to lose no time in completing the bridge.
Montreal Gazette 4 October 1898
Although the Government officials who examined the wreck of the railway bridge at Cornwall have been very reticent about the matter, it is the general impression here that the cause of the disaster was established to be the defective foundation of the piers. It would appear that the river bottom having been reported by the divers who examined it to be firm and enduring, the foundation was built upon it without further test. Subsequently scouring took place at some unsuspected soft spots, and the concrete foundation became unprotected by rip-rapping. The pier was undermined by the swift current, and finally toppled over. Warned by the disaster at the United States end of the Cornwall bridge, the chief engineer of railways and canals, before his departure for the coast, decided to have the foundations of the piers at the Canadian end of tho bridge tested by boring. This will determine whether the concrete has properly set under water, and whether the river bottom on which it rests is sufficiently solid to make the foundation of the piers secure. The appliances for these borings are now being brought into position, so that work will be commenced very shortly.
Montreal Star 4 October 1898
It is generally believed that the Dominion officials who examined the wreck of the Cornwall bridge are of the opinion that the cause of the disaster was the defective foundation of the piers. The piers on the Canadian side of the river are to be thoroughly tested by boring.
Montreal Gazette 5 October 1898
Collins Bay Company Secures the Contract to Remove the Wrecked Portion.
Cornwall, October 4 (Special) Last night the New York & Ottawa Company awarded to the Collin's Bay Towing and Wrecking Company, the contract for the removal of the two spans and pier of the N. Y. & O. R. bridge, which lie in the south channel of the St. Lawrence river. The terms of the contract call for the removal of the wreck this fall. Captain Leslie left at once for Kingston, with the intention of organlztng work this week. It is understood that an effort will be made to raise the centre span bodily with steel pontoons. Steel shields will have to be put down in every case to protect the divers from being swept away. In the matter of the south span, which was badly broken up and twisted, dynamite may have to be used. The masonry and crib of the pier have also to be removed. Tho undertaking is a huge one.
Montreal Gazette 14 October 1898
Government's Examination of the Foundations Begun.
Cornwall, Ont., October 13 R.C. Douglas, of the Department of Raillways and Canals, and J. L. Weller, resilient engineer of the Cornwall canal, with a staff of men, have commenced the boring of pier No. 7, under the; north spans of the O. &; N. Y. cantilever bridge, with a view of testing the masonry, concrete and bottom on behalf of the Dominion Government. Work on the cantilever spans over the north channel is procedding steadily and it is expected that the brielge will be finished in aliout six weeks.
Ottawa Citizen 20 October 1898
Mr. F.D. Anthony, chief engineer of the Ottawa and New York railway is in the city. He says the Collins Bay Wrecking Co. will today make a start at raising the sunken superstructure of the collapsed Cornwall bridge. A fleet of twelve steel pontoons will be used, of which six are already on the scene of the wreck, besides a powerful derrick, scow and barge.
Montreal Gazette 4 November 1898
Disaster Was Caused by Poor Foundation for the Piers.
Ogdensburg, N.Y., November 3. Expert engineers investigating the cause of the recent collapse of the pier which allowed two sections of the New York and Ottawa railroad briilge to fall into the St. Lawrence river, while in course of erection report that the pier was built on hard pan of insufficient strength to stand the huge weight. A diamond drill operated in the bottom of the river at the base of the fallen pier bored through two feet of hard pan, then struck into muddy deposit of clay formation. Through this the drill sunk without striking hard bottom. Further investigation is being made.
Ottawa Citizen 8 November
THE CORNWALL BRIDGE
The Collapsed Structure Being Raised from the Bottom of the St. Lawrence River
Cornwall, Nov. 8 - Capt. Leslie, of the Collins Bay Wrecking Company, has a large staff of men at work removing the ruins of the collapsed O. & N Y. bridge from the south channel of the river, and is making steady progress. The center span has already been examined, and, as at first supposed, is but little damaged being only slightly injured by its fall to the bed of the river. It will be raised by means of pontoons, and then towed to shallow water, where it can be taken apart and entirely recovered. As the entire span weighs only a little over 500 tons, and as the buoyancy of the water will amount to considerable the wrecking company consider that they will not experience any great difficulty in raising it. They will use twelve pontoons, each having a lifting capacity of 60 tons or all together an aggregate power of 720 tons. On account of the swiftness of the current at the place of the accident a steel shield will have to be put down in order to protect the divers and enable them to make a thorough examination and fix the pontoons in their places. Considerable work has already been done towards clearing away the shore span, which was utterly demolished, but the company is having considerable difficulty in separating the massive iron work. Dynamite is being used extensively, but as it is impossible to place it so that it will be very effective it seems its use is not of as much benefit as at first expected.
Ottawa Journal 11 November 1898
CAUSE OF THE BRIDGE DISASTER
Statement Made by a Local Engineer to a Journal Reporter
An engineer who has had considerable experience in bridge work and who is in a position to know something about the Cornwall bridge disaster says it was caused by the breaking of the rock foundation. This foundation, he says, was only eighteen inches thick and was over a strata of clay. The enormous weight of the pier and super structure caused the foundation to give way and bring down the bridge. The theory that the concrete was the cause of the accident he does not credit claiming that it could not break after setting.
Montreal Gazette 26 November 1898
Work of Removing the Wreck Progressing Satisfactorily.
Cornwall. Ont., November 25. Mr. Hendershot, of Thorold, who had a subcontract from the Sooysmith Company in connection with the building of the bridge piers, has secured a contract from the N. Y. & O.Co. to rip-rap the piers, as an additional security against the ice in winter. He has a large force at work on the north channel and has sub-let the work in the south channel to Campbell & Brennan. About 2,000 yards of field stone will be required for the work. The steamer Stranger hus been purchased from Capt. Oliver Gillespie by Hugh Campbell and Thos. Brennan and will be used in carrying stone to pier No. 3 of the railway bridge in the south channel.
Capt. Leslie has succeeded in attaching six pontoons to the wrecked span in the south channel and will likely have the rest of the floaters in position in a day or two. If they do their work as expected they should take the immense mass of iron to shallow water in short order.
Ottawa Journal 15 December 1898
Cornwall Bridge Disaster has Been an Expensive One for the O. & N.Y. Ry.
"The loss to the Ottawa and New York Railway Company, sustained by the Cornwall bridge catastrophe, can hardly be estimated," said an official of the road to a Journal reporter last evening. "Had it not been for that accident the road would now be in good running order for the full length of the line. One contract for shipping 10,000 tons of coal was lost owing to the bridge disaster. This is only one item, and a comparatively small one. The road in operation between here and Cornwall is doing a good business both in passengers and freight.
The work of cleaning the debris of the wreck at Cornwall is still going on with all despatch. It is thought that the centre span may be raised without damage.
Ottawa Citizen 22 December 1898
THE CORNWALL BRIDGE.
Wreck of the Collapsed Spans Moved Some Distance.
Cornwall. Dec. 21. The severe cold of the past few days has caused the cessation of the work of testing the foundation of the piers of the O. & N Y. Railway bridge. The scows and drilling plants are now being taken from the river and put away for the winter. Capt. Leslie, of the Collins Bay Rafting Company, who has the contract of removing the wreck of the collapsed bridge from the south channel. has also been compelled to suspend work for the winter, and is removing his plant to Kingston. Although he has not made the progress he at first anticipated, he has succeeded fairly well and now has the wreck in such a condition that it will not cause an ice jam in the spring, as was expected. The span next to the American shore has been almost completely removed and the centre span, by the use of pontoons, has been carried sorne 800 feet down below the scene of the accident and now lies with the current. Considerable ice goes down this channel in the spring, and it was first thought that it would make a jam and cause considerable damage, but Mr. Leslie feels confident that he has the span in such a position that no damage will result.
Ottawa Citizen 30 December 1898
RAILWAY DISPUTE SETTLED
Suit of Sub-Contractors on the O. & N.Y. Railway Dismissed by Judge McMahon
Judgment was handed out by Justice McMahon at Osgoode Hall today dismissing the suit of Brevidiere and McNaughton, sub-contractors of the Ottawa and New York railway construction, against Messrs. Balch and Peppard, a dispute as to the excavation work on the railway
Montreal Star 4 February 1899
THE CORNWALL BRIDGE
The Piers of the Collapsed Section Have to he Completely Rebuilt
(Special to the Star)
CORNWALL Ont February 4. - As a result of the investigations made by the New York and Ottawa Company in the south channel pier No. 3 which remained standing after the deplorable accident of September 6th whereby twelve men lost their lives has to be taken down and rebuilt, the construction company being determined that the bridge will not be turned over to the Railway Company until everything is perfectly substantial and satisfactory. This will somewhat delay the completion of the bridge and necessitate considerable additional expense. The contract for the stone and iron superstructure have not yet been let but will be immediately. The company are about to begin getting out the material which they will turn over to the contractor when the contract has been let. It is thought the work will be completed in time to allow the completion of the iron work before next autumn.
Ottawa Citizen 3 April 1899
THE CORNWALL BRIDGE
Pier Building Will Begin Within a Few Weeks.
It is expected that the bridge over the St. Lawrence at Cornwall will be competed early in autumn, as the work on tne piers and foundations will be rushed with the opening of spring.
Ottawa Citizen 19 April 1899
THE CORNWALL BRIDGE.
O. & N. Y. Ry. Will Resume its Construction Shortly.
The Ottawa and New York railway will resume work on the construction of its bridge at Cornwall in about two weeks. Very little work will be required to complete the structure on the Canadian side of the river and this part of the work, it is expected, will be completed in about a month. The main portion of the work is on the south side of the river, where the piers which were built last summer and collapsed will again have to be erected. It is hoped to have the bridge completed and ready for traffic early in November. The company expects to increase its rolling stock and institute a much better service as soon as the through service is established.
Montreal Star 22 April 1899
THE CORNWALL BRIDGE
Ccntracts Let for Reconstruction of the Wrecked Spans
THIS TIME THE PIERS WILL HAVE TO BE BUILT ON BED ROCK
(Special to the Star)
CORNWALL April 22 - Tlie Union Bridge Company of Philhadelphia has secured the contract for rebuilding the Ottawa and New York International bridge on the South Channel, St. Lawrence, which collapsed on September 6 last killing twelve men and wounding twenty to thirty. The rebuilding of the foundations has been given to the Degnon MacLean Construction Company ot New York who have just completed the foundations of the Brooklyn side of the new East River bridge. Mr. A A. Stewart chief engineer and J.E. Taber superintendent of construction have arrived and gone over the work. It is now generally believed that the cause of the fatal collapse was caused by too many chances being taken with the nature of the bottom. The investigations in the north channel so far as is known go to show that the action of the current for unnumbered years has scoured the clay thoroughly and the piers are standing on solid rock but on the south channel, where the fatal accident took place, the same thing did not occur, the current there being much slower. When the cribs for holding the concrete were anchored on the site of pier No. 2 and 3. a diver was sent down and tried the bottom to an extent that was considered satisfactory, and the substructure was begun. Then the iron men went to work and had just finished erecting three spans on September 6 when pier No 2 collapsed, carrying with it the two south spans completely wrecking the first and and landing the other almost intact on the bottom.
The depth of blue at the site of the piers is between thirty to 40 feet, and the contractors will have to go down by a pneumatic process. There is thirty feet water in the channel and a current of at least eight miles an hour. The recontruction of pier No. 2 will be undertaken first, and it is expected will be completed in July. The pulling down and rebuilding of No. 3 will take until October; at least that is the limit set under the contract. The Union Bridge Company will erect the shore span, as pier No. 2 is ready for them, and will only be the work of a few weeks. The work of removing the debris of the wreck was let to the Collins Bay Company, and was prosecuted by Captain Leslie last autumn until the river froze up. The centre span was hauled down the river some distance, being buoyed with pontoons, and a good deal of the wrecked span was landed on shore, dynamite being used to break it into pieces. Captain Leslie expects to be down next week with his tugs and fleet of barges, and pontoons, and will get to work at once under more favourable circumstances that when he quit last November. The loss in the collapse of the brige [sic] will run on the million mark.
Montreal Gazette 13 May 1899
Work on the Cornwall Bridge.
Cornwall, May 12. (Special) A. A. Stewart, chief engineer of the Degnon-McLean Construction Company, has taken charge of the work of rebuilding the piers for the south bridge of the N.Y. & O. Nearly all the machinery for the work has arrived, and a good deal of the lumber and other supplies. The Canadian Construction Company has the contract for the stone. The machinery is very heavy, especially that for supplying air to the pneumatic caissons, which is the same as was used for the foundations of the new Brooklyn bridge, just completed by the Degnon-McLean Company. It will take some days to get the machinery in position, when a large force of men will be set to work.
Kemptville Advance 1 June 1899
The blasting at the Cornwall bridge is killing a great many fish and the Indians are reaping a harvest. A sturgeon weighing 85 pounds was killed last week.
Montreal Gazette 3 June 1899
Body of a Victim of the Bridge Accident Secured
Cornwall, Ont., June 2. - A report comes from Fort Covington, N. Y., that a body of a man supposed to be one of the victims of the Cornwall bridge disaster, was found at Cazaville. The body was buried on the river bank without an inquest being held or the coroner notified.
Montreal Star 6 December 1899
THE CORNWALL BRIDGE
OTTAWA, December 6 - Mr. R. Douglas, engineer of the Department of Railways and Canals, has given official sanction to the plans submitted for protection to the piers of the Ottawa and New York Railway bridge under construction at Cornwall over the St. Lawrence River. The investigation following the accident to the piers revealed the fact that the bottom was solid enough to hold the weight, but owing to the depth of the water and the rapid current it was deemed advisable to reinforce the substructure.
Cornwall Freeholder 28 September 1900
The O&NY Bridge is now so near completion that trains have been run over it and on Monday next a regular service will be opened between Ottawa and Tupper Lake, N.Y. the present Southern terminus of the line. A freight train was run over to the United States side of the river on Saturday, it being the first train to cross the bridge. Several passenger cars were taken over on Monday in order to carry an excursion to Malone for the Fair. The bridge being too narrow to admit of a walk being laid inside the structure for the accommodation of employees in the event of a train being stopped while crossing and the train hands being required to leave the cars or engine, the officials of the Dept. of Railways and Canals requested the company to build a walk along one side of the bridge outside of the iron work. This is being done and the walk is to be completed in a
couple of days. The ﬁnal inspection of the bridge was made this week by Mr. R.C. Douglas, C.E.,of the Department of Railways and Canals, and all will be in readiness for the formal opening on Monday next. There will be two express trains a day from Ottawa connecting with the NY Central at Tupper Lake for New York and two trains passing here every day for Ottawa. Going South the morning train will leave Comwall at 9:25 a.m., connecting with the NTYC at Tupper Lake at 12:10, reaching New York at 9 p.m. The evening train will leave Comwall at 6:29 p.1n., reaching Tupper Lake at 11 p.m. and New York at 7:30 the following moming. Coming North passengers will leave New York at 6:40 p.m., arriving in Cornwall at 8:01 the following morning; or leaving New York in the morning and arriving in Cornwall at 4:10 p.m.
This will cause a change in the local time table, the express trains for Ottawa leaving at 8.01 a.m.. and 4:10 p.m. A mixed train will leave Cornwall for Ottawa at 4:20 p.m.