1870 - FRIGHTFUL ACCIDENT AT FRANKLIN! FALL OF THE SUSPENSION BRIDGE. SEVERAL LIVES LOST. DESTRUCTION OF THE MARSHALL HOUSE.
About half past eleven o'clock yesterday morning, a fire broke out in the Marshall House, situated at the Franklin end of the Suspension Bridge at that point, which connects the Allegheny Valley Railroad with the town. Though the most strenuous efforts were made to save the structure it was entirely destroyed. During the burning of the hotel the flames communicated to the bridge, upon which were from twenty to thirty individuals in the act of crossing, or watching the burning building.
Suddenly one of the large cables supporting the bridge parted, and in an instant the structure tipped, throwing all those upon the same into the river below, and then fell, burying them in its ruins. Although several were seen to escape it is supposed that some are still beneath the wreck, while, others must have drowned, and gone down the river beneath the ice which partially filled the channel at that point. From an eye witness of the disaster, we learn that the cable which parted was upon the lower, or down the river side, and its breaking was doubtless due to the heat, which is supposed to have melted the lead used to fasten the end of the cable to the stone abutment at the end, or melted the wires. Our informant says there were about twenty-four persons upon the bridge who were first precipitated to the river by the sudden incline of the bridge, which then fell burying all beneath it.
The victims were WM. F. NEILL, of Franklin, who was rescued, but lived only a short time. MR. ALLEN, freight agent of the A. V. R. R., is among the missing, and supposed to be killed. MRS. McINTYRE and daughter, and sister of the toll gate keeper of the bridge, were fatally injured, and cannot live through the night.
Though several in the confusion doubtless escaped, it is supposed that a number are still beneath the bridge, or were carried down the river. Some days will doubtless elapse before the correct number of killed and injured can be obtained. The excitement in the vicinity after the accident was intense, and crowds gathered to assist in extricating the living and dead.
Aside from the fearful loss of life the amount of property destroyed was large. The Marshall House will foot up $5,000 with no insurance, while the bridge itself cost about $50,000, and the exception of the piers, which are still standing, will prove a total loss. The old wooden bridge which formerly occupied the site of the suspension bridge, was destroyed in 1865 at the time of the great fire in Oil City, by a barge of burning oil from above floating down and firing the same. - Herald.
We learn that the body of MR. KILGORE, A. V. R. R. freight agent, was taken from the river this morning. This makes the number of killed so far as ascertained two, MR. NEILL having been taken out yesterday. MRS. McINTYRE and daughter cannot possibly recover. There was at least 30 persons on the bridge at the time it went down, and a number of these are missing and are probably killed. The bridge went down by spans, leaving not the least chance of rescue for the unfortunate persons. From the fact that many strangers are in Franklin at present, it is probable that some of them are among the missing. A large number of people are engaged in removing the debris of the bridge in search of the bodies. This sad event has cast a gloom over the entire city.
[SPECIAL TO THE RECORD.]
Franklin, Dec. 31.
As near as can be estimated at least thirty persons were on the bridge when it fell.
Of these, three escaped unhurt - the balance fell into the water below.
13 were taken out of the water, one dead and all badly injured.
Of the latter, one has since died, and one more reported dead.
Two persons were known to have been drowned.
It is supposed that all who were near the centre of the bridge and fell into the river were drowned and carried down with the current, as no bodies have been found today although parties are clearing the wreck from off the ice where no doubt more will be found, as the most of them were on that part of the bridge over the ice.
Several persons not known here are expected to be found when the ruins are cleared.
There is no possible way yet of finding out how many are lost as they have to work very slow on account of weak ice.
The bridge turned over as it fell and lays bottom side up on the top.
Franklin, Pa. Dec. 3 p.m.
SARAH McINTYRE died this noon.
The Petroleum Centre Daily Record
December 31, 1870
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