Raging torrent brings bridge down
With a crash that struck stark terror in the hearts of pedestrians, the big steel suspension bridge which spans the Hudson at the foot of Glen Street Hill, Glens Falls was washed away at 9:55 p.m. March 27, 1913 and the big structure tumbled into the raging torrents below. A cry of horror went up from onlookers, scores of whom had barely escaped a watery grave.
One witness said that only moments before, when he crossed from the city and reached the archway near the South Glens Falls end of the bridge, he heard the noise of twisting steel and looking back he saw the huge structure swaying and hastening his steps he just barely reached safety.
Citizens knew of impending peril
The great flood began after three days of heavy rain which turned the Hudson River into a raging torrent. It was four inches higher than the great flood of 1867.
Since the day before its demise it was generally believed that the bridge was doomed and before noon all unnecessary traffic was stopped. The danger continued to increase and toward evening only pedestrians were allowed to pass over the bridge at their own risk. By 6 o’clock, its destruction was looked upon as a matter of only a few hours. Huge crowds gathered to view the spectacle.
Brilliant electrical display
As the bridge swayed, it heaved upward in the middle with a creaking noise and went tumbling into the river, Scores of electrical wires were cut asunder and for a few moments there was a brilliant electrical display which made the night as light as day. When the live wires struck the water below they short-circuited and gave off a brilliant display. Then came darkness and with it increased horror until it became definitely known that the two pedestrians who had but a minute or so before had taken their lives in their hands had passed safely over.
Among those who narrowly escaped a watery grave were Mrs. Jane Welcome of Glens Falls and Mrs. James Davidson of Warrensburgh, both of whom had gone to the river to view the high water. It had been their intention to cross over to South Glens Falls but within about 15 feet of the bridge the structure gave way. Almost overcome with fright the two women beat a hurried retreat and have yet to recover from the excitement.
Structure’s remains located
The big steel bridge, completed in March, 1890 by the Berlin Iron Bridge Co. of Connecticut at a cost of $9,000, had spanned the Hudson for 23 years, but it could no longer stand the pressure of the high water and rushing logs although iron trusses were added some years ago extending nearly to the rocks below. It had replaced the old lattice covered bridge which had been an eyesore to the traveling public for many years. That bridge had sagged and swayed when people and cars crossed it at the same time.
A few minutes after the bridge collapsed, a searchlight was employed in an effort to locate the fallen structure but it was not until the next morning that sections of the steel work were located around the bend, 150 yards down the river. Since early that morning, thousands of sightseers gathered to view the catastrophe.
(Note: In 1804 a toll bridge was built there by Warren Ferriss which lasted until 1833 when a new bridge was built for use by the general public. That bridge was later replaced by the “old lattice covered bridge” eyesore which was replaced in 1890 by the “modern” steel bridge that in 1913 went down the river as described here. I find no mention of how the area of famous Cooper’s Cave, located under the bridge, fared during this turmoil.)
Train nearly plunges downhill
One of the large drive wheels of the engine drawing the afternoon train out of Lake George on Friday March 7, 1913 broke from the axle and rolled down a 60-foot embankment just north of Glen Lake. The only thing that saved the train from going over the embankment was that the engine was able to remain on the tracks owing to the fact that the damaged part was on the uphill side of the grade, otherwise the engine and cars containing several passengers would have been a mass of wreckage. The private car of Vice President and General Manager C.S. Sims was attached to the train.
Sailing for Jamaica
Mr. and Mrs. “Jack” Twaddle of Malone, formerly of Warrensburgh, sailed from New York City on Feb.27, 1913 for Kingston, Jamaica for a short sojourn there and then will go to the Isthmus of Panama to look over the big canal job underway. They will then take a ship to Cuba and will return to New York on April 2, 1913.
Jack Twaddle was superintendent of the Warrensburgh Woolen Company’s pants factory and he is now engaged in the heating and plumbing business in Malone.
(Note: My late mother-in-law, Ida Hadden came to Warrensburgh from Massena in 1901 as a young girl to work in the pants factory on Milton Avenue at the invitation of recruiter John Botham Twaddle. A handsome man, she said all the girls she worked with used to vie for his attention. “Jack,” born in 1866 at Chateaugay, started his career as a clerk in a department store in Chazy. He came from Malone in 1900, where he had been an executive in the J.O. Ballard & Co. factory, to work in Warrensburgh. In his first year in the pants factory, about 20 operators were employed with an output of 60 pairs of trousers a day and under his supervision by 1905, fifty operators completed 250 pairs of trousers a day. He was married in 1891 to Laura Andrews and they had no children.)
News near and far
One of the rescue parties sent out to look for Captain Scott and his stranded men at the South Pole reports that the greatest suffering to the men was caused by the exhaustion of their tobacco supply, forcing them to use teakwood to raise a smoke.
Not many Warrensburgh citizens need worry about the new income tax to take effect for the first time on March 1, 1913. In order to be eligible for the privilege of paying the tax one must first have an income of at least $5,000. Some few have, most haven’t in this town.
A tree was recently cut down on the farm of Charles MaArdle, about three miles from Olmstedville, and its age is estimated to be 173 years. The stump measured 60 inches by 70 inches.
Homer J. Selleck of Lake George, fell on an icy sidewalk and broke his left arm. James Stevens fell on the ice and broke three ribs and is confined to his home on upper Main Street, Warrensburgh where he lives with Mrs. Fred Darrow, his sister.
In Graphite the water pipes around the place still keep freezing up and water is being carted in pails and barrels for use around town. A thief has been visiting back yards and stealing articles of clothing from the clotheslines.
John Mahoney of Friends Lake is selecting lumber for his new house. An outbuilding on Ed Jones’ place at Riverbank was burned recently. Martin Barlow and family, who live in the house, were in the habit of using the building for an ash house.
Gilbert White of Stony Creek is ill with pneumonia. The two children of Etta Griffin, Hester and Helen Griffin of Newcomb, are ill with abscesses in their heads.
Mrs. Smith Viele died March 12, 1913 at her home on Horicon Avenue, Warrensburgh. Henry Reynolds, 87, of Garnet, North Thurman, died Saturday morning, March 8, 1913 of jaundice. Burial was in the Johnson Cemetery.
Rodney Lackey of Johnsburgh, while employed in Florida, was taken ill and has become insane. He was taken to the insane asylum.
Pete Fish’s bunch of merry music makers have been holding forth at Wheeler’s Store in Warrensburgh. Pete plunks the banjo, Fred Swan strums the guitar and Rob Branch plays the fiddle. They surely do make merry music to everyone’s delight.
Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-2210.