1915: 848 People Drowned only a Few Meters from the Shore

1915: 848 People Drowned only a Few Meters from the Shore
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

On this day in 1915, the unusual sinking of the SS Eastland happened in Chicago.

Specifically, when more than 2,500 passengers boarded that ship in the port, she rolled over and took 848 people to their deaths. It is particularly unusual that the SS Eastland was located just a few meters from the shore when she capsized. The fact that it was a warm season (summer), or that the water was only six meters deep, could not help the victims.

SS Eastland was a passenger ship roughly 80 meters long. On the day of the accident, she was to transport the employees of Western Electric to a picnic across Lake Michigan, on whose shore the city of Chicago is situated. It was supposed to be a great event for the employees, considering the average working conditions at that time.

On the morning of this day, the ship was boarded by so many people that it exceeded its capacity of 2,572 passengers, many of whom were on the upper open decks. It seems that the ship lost stability due to the excessive load on its top.

In fact, the Titanic disaster occurred only three years before, after which strict rules in terms of the number of lifeboats were implemented. Paradoxically, placing of a large number of such boats on the upper part of the SS Eastland probably made the ship even more susceptible to capsizing.

The ship rolled completely onto its side around 7:30 am. Many passengers were already below decks, so they drowned in the water. In addition, the sudden movement of heavy furniture inside the ship probably increased the number of victims. As many as 844 passengers and four crew members were killed, despite the fact that the accident occurred near the coast.

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