The Eastland disaster was one of the deadliest maritime disasters in American history. And in this particular case, safety regulations actually made things worse.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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So today we are going to get into the EAST Lynne disaster, which is one of the most requested episodes we have not got into yet we God knows about it from Elaine, Jennifer, Joanne, citizen, Jamie, Sarah, Julia, Eleanor Jeff, Christian and Courtney, and I am sure other people like that is a partial list of just the last couple of years. And since whenever we talk about a disaster afterward, we typically get an influx of requests for another. very similar disaster. The general slogan is already on the list and the Sultana has already done so the easily ass. There was a huge tragedy. It was one of the deadliest disasters in Chicago history, also one of the deadliest maritime asters in american history overall and a pretty consisted thee.
in our disaster? Episodes is a lack of safety regulations or maybe safety warnings that we're not heeded ahead of time and could have prevented the tragedy, and while there is definitely some of that in today's show, rights are going to talk about them. If the regulations that, in this case actually made it worse before we talk about what happened on the EU land. We actually need to back up for just a second and talk about the titanic and the changing safety standards that followed it sinking because, although there were other issues at play as well, it was in a cruel irony, an increased number of lifeboats that played a big part in the Eastland disaster and what may be the most fame. Maritime disaster in history Titanic struck an iceberg during its maiden voyage on April, fourteenth of nineteen twelve. It famously have merely enough lifeboats for everyone.
On board and that lack of lifeboats became the focus of people's grief and outrage in the aftermath of the disaster. It sparked a boats for all movement, that demanded that ships have enough lifeboats or life rafts, to accommodate every single person on board. This outrage completely understandable, was a little bit misplaced. A number of factors, including the speed, and maneuverability of the ship itself contributed to the titanic disaster. But the lack of lifeboats was fairly far down on the lists. Well, Absolutely true that the dynamic did not have enough lifeboats for all of its passengers. By a wide margin it did, how far more than were actually required at the time and that requirement was based on the simultaneously pragmatic, impassable the idea that, in the event of a disaster, massive enough to sink a ship, it was extremely unlikely that every passenger could successfully even get to a lifeboat.
The recommended number of lifeboats when the Titanic set sail was part of a pretty groom equation in some of the factors in this equation. How long would it take to determine that the ship was likely to sink and give the order to evacuate ready the lifeboats and and apply them in such an event. How many past there is increasing, were likely to already be dead before that order. Even came. How long would it take the ship to list far enough to one side that it would become impossible to deploy some or all of the lifeboats? How weekly could civilian passengers reasonably be expected to evacuate and, importantly, how many lifeboats did a ship have room to safely carry in the case of the titanic. The ship had enough lifeboats base to accommodate one thousand one hundred. Seventy eight people. As we said, was far fewer than the number of people aboard on its first voyage, but only seven hundred and
survive leaving nearly five hundred available lifeboats bases unfilled, and this is because most of the lifeboats weren't anywhere close to fall when they actually lawn a lot of reasons have been given for the partially full lifeboats, and they all really boil down to fear crew were afraid that completely full lifeboats would break the lowering mechanisms. Both passengers and crew were afraid that overcrowding would swamp the boats and that fear was behind everything from barring the gates to the lower decks that the people and steerage couldn't get out to refusing to roll back to the ship to pull survivors out of the water. Based on this passenger and you behaviour, the titanic really would have needed half again as many lifeboats as passengers to actually rescue everyone on board, not just one lifeboat space per person, but the idea that more people would have
survived if only there had been enough. Lifeboats was far more immediate and compelling than whether the ship had adequate, rivets or ass. If his did enough steering and navigation system also knowing that you would definitely have a space reserved for you on a lifeboat. the illusion of safety, should something terrible occur while travelling by water. It was like a century, old version of security theatre. The post titanic call for more lifeboats, wasn't just limited to passenger outcry. There. We are definitely not saying that lifeboats are bad and there were professional while also recommending more lifeboats a conference, convened in London in the fall of nineteen. Thirteen to outline international recommendations for safety and Maritime Brussels then part to prevent another titanic like disaster. The result was the first international convention for the safety of life at sea or soulless, which was signed in
Then, on January twentieth, nineteen fourteen article, forty of the convention, began quote at no moment of its voyage me. A ship have on board a total number of person. greater than that for whom accommodation is provided in the lifeboats and the pontoon life rafts onboard article. Fifty four also designated a minimum total number of certified life men crew who were train in all the operations related to launching and handling lifeboats. So this convention, It leave room for individual nations to designate exemptions to this role, but overall, it meant, but one lifeboat space needed to be available per person and that the crew to be trained, just, for example, not to launch the lifeboats. Would they were only half full. because of world war, one many of the nations that had participated in all of this didn't ratify the treaty and they put off implementing some or all of the recommendations that had come out of the conference, but these reckoning
nations did influence other legislation in the United States. This was the Siemens acts. Site by Woodrow, Wilson, unmarked. Fourth, nineteen fifteen. The Siemens ACT was largely felt of lobbying on behalf of the International Siemens Union of Amerika, and many of its provisions were really about labour practices and workplace safety as they related to sailors themselves. They were things like collective bargaining rights and better living, orders on board the ships, but because of the ongoing furore about the lack of lifeboats on the titanic safety regulations for passengers, including lifeboat counts, were looked into this as well. So, as often happens, that thing that had become the big political hot button got looped into something that was originally related, something else so nearly half of it
act related to lifeboats in some way, although the final rule whisperer lifeboats to cover seventy five percent of the passengers rather than all of them. The Siemens ACT was also signed invalid. in two other maritime disasters that demonstrate how lifeboats for all doesn't necessarily. many more lives saved. Both the Empress of Ireland with think on May twenty, ninth nineteen fourteen after colliding with Collyer and the Lusitania sank on May. Seventh, nineteen fifteen, after being torpedoed by a german submarine, have far more lifeboats bases than people aboard. Both saying in under twenty minutes, four hundred and sixty five. One thousand four hundred seventy seven people survive the Empress of Ireland sinking and seven hundred and sixty one of one thousand nine hundred and fifty nine people survive the Lusitania so well
it's definitely standard on a lot of large ships to have a lifeboat space for everyone. We use are examples of how that doesn't necessarily mean that you can get to want to get off the boat safely. Also, the Siemens ACT encountered heavy resistance from ship operators who argued that it terms were expensive and in some cases unsafe and would put them out of business and not long after it went into effect. The Ss East Lynne would actually proved Some of these criticisms were at least in part, correct, and we will talk about exactly how, after a quick sponsor rake,
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Cartier House, it's easy! It's clear! Its roto bs as Iceland, which was nicknamed the speed queen of the Great Lakes and the greyhound of the lakes, was built in nineteen o to its original purpose, was to carry passengers from Chicago across the lake. Michigan and then returned with products to sell in Chicago markets the two hundred and sixty five foot. Eighty one meter steamer was built by Genk Shipbuilding Company and launched on May six. Nineteen o three. It had an original capacity of two thousand passengers, with sleeping accommodations for five huh of those. There is at least one article floating around in its original capacity was three hundred passengers, but that seems to be an outlier and not accurate. Yet it definitely had some retrofitting to carry more passengers, but I could not find confirmation that the original passenger cat was that,
LO, the EAST, Lindsey Gangways- were relatively low and many of its interior doors were not watertight, which meant that it has the potential to take on water if it listed very far to one side in those gangway swamp dipping under the water surface, exactly how far it could list without capsizing, which is a concept known as its medicine. Ter wasn't ever measured before it was put into passenger service. But in spite of these potential trouble spots at first, the useless didn't to have any major problems with stability like all great lakes ships, though the Eastland had a much shallower draft than an ocean liner. Would it was constructed with a series of ballast tanks which could be emptied or fill based on how deeply water, the ship needed to ride or to compensate for an unbalanced load and these tanks weren't metered, though so it was up to the skill and experience of the crew to estimate how full they were versus how fully
to be, although it didn't originally seemed to have problems with stability waste, not major ones. The Eastland also wasn't quite fast enough to is an ugly do what its owners of wanted it to do, which was to make two round trips a day. So soon it underwent modifications to increase of passenger capacity. You try to make it a little faster to make it more profitable it began to have problems almost immediately after the retrofitting underlie seventeenth of nineteen o four, it nearly capsized. It went into serious list on August fifth of nineteen o six. By the time it was sold to Saint Joseph Chicago Steamship Company in nineteen fourteen. It had a reputation for being less than stable, and that was before the Siemens ACT and its lifeboat regulations. Men testimony after the disaster, one of the people of the company who had bought it was like you. I didn't actually know what opposite, but we did get it for really cheap. There the negotiation of the Siemens ACT Detroit and
obligation, company general manager, a shots had pointed out that all these additional lifeboats and rafts we're going to add a lot of weight, specifically a lot of weight to the upper deck of a ship like lifeboat he's not gonna. Do anybody any good if it sword weight on the whole, we can get to it when it came to great lakes, vessels which already tended to be our top heavy and shallower in the draft that an ocean liner, they would quote turn turtle with you added that much weight to their epidemics. He and others had advocated for exceptions or adjusted guidelines for the Great Lakes passenger ships, but this advice didn't make it into the final bill on July. Second, nineteen. Fifteen. The EAST Lynne got its new supply of lifeboats and equipment to bring it up to the standards outlined in the Siemens ACT. Its number of lifeboats increased from six to eleven. It also had thirty seven life rafts and enough life jackets to fit a sold out
ginger load, plus all of its crew. As about two thousand five hundred and seventy people, all of this additional gear Wade somewhere between fourteen and fifteen tons- and it was almost all stored in the upper deck making an already unbalanced chip even more top heavy on July twenty. Fourth, nineteen fifteen. The EAST Lynne, was to make its first full loaded crossing of Lake Michigan. After receiving all this additional equipment, it had not been tested to see it might maneuver under all of this additional weight and the safety inspections at had was over the years have all taken place while the ship was under way. Now, while it was docked, that's we morning, the EAST Lynne was one of five ships chartered by western electric to carry its employees. Thirty eight miles across Lake Michigan for a day, long picnic at Washington Park in Michigan City in the imo,
This picnic had become an annual and much anticipated tradition. Among the company's factory workers, these employees normally work sixty weeks, so this was an extra day and for the many who were young and unmarried, it was a good opportunity to socialize and to meet other eligible people. The nineteen fifteen picnic was to be the fifth one. In about seven thousand people had bought tickets for the passage across the encourage to arrive early passengers began arriving at the dock at Clark Street Bridge Homage Chicago River. At about six, in the morning federal inspectors kept count of how many boarded the Eastland, which was the first of the five ships scheduled the part, because it was raining. Many of the passengers, especially women and children, went below decks to stay out of the wet the EAST Lynne Orient did so that its starboard or right side was closest to the war, for people were boarding about ten minutes until
passengers. The eastland began to listen to the starboard, probably because the added weight of the people on that side of the upper deck The crew began, adding water to the ballast tanks to try to write the ship and did briefly become level again, but soon started to tip in the other direction, towards port people continued to board as the crew continued to adjust the water in the ballast tanks to try to study the ship at seven ten. In the morning the ship reached its capacity of twenty five hundred passengers and crew began. Trying to more evenly dispersed the crowd with the list to port become even more pronounced. The crew opened the vows to to starboard ballast although they didn't begin feeling for several minutes at seven, twenty with the ship momentarily righted, the crew brought the gangway inserted making preparations to depart. They continued trying to distribute the passenger load more evenly, but at this point the upwards
swear soaked with the brain, and the ship was swaying back and forth. This proved to be really difficult. The deck was too slick to really on well in a lot of people either didn't want a move or they couldn't at seven twenty seven. The eastland began to list dramatically the port side, gangways dipped below them Rufus, causing the ship to take on water in the Caribbean I'm trying to scramble out of the engine room as it started to submerge at seven twenty eight, the ship listed a terrifying forty, five degrees dishes, furniture piano and a refrigerator in the ship all started to slide towards port, in some cases crushing passengers or trapping them against walls, passengers and crew, who had made it to the ships upper decks started leaping onto the wharf by seven thirty. The EAST Lynne was completely on its side. Next to the dock. In about twenty feet, that's approximately six meter
of water. This capsize had happened so quickly that none of the newly added lifeboats or life jackets had been deployed. Morgan. more about the disaster in the response to it. After we first pause for a little sponsor break, ok, less welcome to car leasing, one o one. Today's lesson is price negotiation. First, take out your phones and go into Roto app pick a car and you'll see the price. All the discounts, taxes and fees are included Crystal clear surprises. Ok, that's the end of a lesson in the questions. Yes, Jackson, that's it! That's it next! Yes, Sir Way, so we don't have to negotiate a price. Nope Roto takes care of it all. Ok, you in the back has to be our. What do we do now? That's the second lesson. Roto makes leasing a car, so easy,
need you can have all your free time back so we joined a class dismissed welcome to the future of car leasing. Rota lets you choose from hundreds of cars in your area right online or on the road, a lab. We give you crystal clear pricing that includes discounts taxes in fees to top it We bring the car rights, your house rode out now, that's easy. Leasing The area around the eastland was extremely busy on the day, capsized with at least two other ships that we're Baron for the western electric picnic in the process of boarding their passengers, so huge. Number of people were already on hand to try to help with the rescue. This is both a help and a hindrance since the wharf quickly became too crowded for people to effectively maneuver, some of them who managed to scramble up onto the now horizontal starboard side of the ship were able to jump to the wharf to safety
Captain John Amira was at the helm of the tug canosa which had been scheduled to toe the Eastland down the Chicago River to Lake Michigan. After it capsize, he ordered the tug to be secured to the war to be used as a bridge to the eastward many of those on the upper deck had not been able to climb to safety, though the ship tipped quickly enough that a lot of homework into the water bystanders began. Throwing anything might float into the water to try to give survivors something to cling to a lot of people at that time. This didn't know how to swim, so people from the dock started throwing boards and oars and creates and other things that were mostly made of wood some of this debris, though, hit the very people they were trying to help, knocking them unconscious and causing them to drown, tugs and other small, from a scene also became part of this rescue bridge tender Lawrence Frank Northrop, witnessing the capsize got in a lifeboat and rode to the scene where he was able to pull twenty three people to see
The people were still alive inside the half submerged eastland at this point, and some of them are bad injured, welders cut through the exposed hall of the ship so that they can pull out as many people possible and then from air. The same holes were used to accommodate divers, to try to pull bodies out from the submerged parts of the ship, multiple account through the day, reference horrible, deafening screaming, both as the boat, capsized and afterward. Helen Wrapper, western electric nurse, was on her way to the dark. When the Eu Fling capsized and she became a huge part of the rescue effort, sending people to nearby businesses for blankets and soup flagging down passing car to carry people who were either uninjured are only had scraped and bruises thinking at home. There weren't enough saleable ambulances, so American Express loaned its trucks for the purpose,
later on. There would not be enough horses to accommodate all the funerals, so Marshall fielding Company, better known as Marshall Fields, donated the use of its trucks for the poor by eight a m only half an hour after the ship size, nearly all of the survivors had been rescued, but the efforts to bring up the bodies of those who were killed took hours, especially from the submerged port side cabins. At least eight hundred forty four people died. The official count, but as we can talk about about some of that is will hardon now. Most of them were factory workers. Twenty two entire families were killed. Seventy five percent of the vote and who are under the age of twenty five, because there were five boats chartered for this picnic There was no passenger manifest and no easy way to determine exactly who had been on board
second regiment armoury was used as a temporary morgue, with bodies laid out in rows of eighty five families were admitted to try to find them ones at around midnight on the twenty fifth. Unfortunately, We also look you lose and thieves who came along as well with some of the victims, personal belongings, stolen from the bodies, early, seven hundred funerals took place on July, twenty eight nineteen fifteen by July twenty ninth but one of the bodies have been claimed. The last one left with Boy who had been nicknamed little feller, he was eventual These than to a funeral home, where two children identified him as their friend willing, botany his body hadn't been claimed because his parents and his sister had also been, filled, his grandmother eventually made the identification based on his pants, which were part of the new suit that he had warned the picnic.
He and the rest of his family were buried on July thirty, first more than five thousand people attended the funeral. This whole incident was devastating on so many levels, with hundreds of western electric employees losing coworkers and neighbourhoods, or those employees lived struck with a huge loss of life. Many of those who were killed were immigrants from Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland, which meant that the neighborhoods were these families were clustered were hit particularly hard in addition to providing aid at the scene. The American Red Cross churches and civic organizations helped families to make funeral arrangements about a hundred nurses from the Chicago Department of Health visited then five hundred families afterward to look for and treat signs of health problems from having been submerged in Chicago River, which was both very dirty and very cold immediately. The incident Eastland Captain Harry Peterson
engineer. Joseph Eriksson and other members of the crew were taken into custody in part to protect them from people who were distraught or outraged in the wake of the disaster. Because the incident happened on a navigable waterway at a city wharf different aspects of it fell under federal states, city and counting jurisdictions. There were seven separate inquiries and twenty four years of litigation. looting federal proceedings. There were overseen by Kennison Mountain Landis who would later become famous First commissioner, a baseball after the black socks scandal taking most of the blue, at the time was chief engineer, Ericsson because he would have been. The some giving the orders about how to handle the ballast tanks. He was represented by Clarence Darrow, who has come up on the show. A lot lately but Ericsson died of heart disease and nineteen nineteen, before the investigations of legal proceedings concluded indictments for man,
were handed down for several of the officers in the company that own the ship, as well as the captain and chief engineer, charges of fraud were brought against government inspectors as well, which were eventually changed to a charge of conspiracy to operate and unsafe ship. The manslaughter charges were ultimately dropped. In February of nineteen, sixteen judge clearance sessions of the district Court of Grand Rapids Michigan delivered a verdict of not guilty in the here is a charge because there was no probable cause, a civil suit and the wrongful debts of the east ones. Passengers dragged on until nineteen thirty, three, its terms limited the pay out to the value of the EAST Lynne, savage sale, which was fifty thousand dollars, but deducted from that total was the thirty five thousand dollars it cost to raise. The wrecked, formed from the river, so virtually no compensation was ever paid to any of the victims. Families, even though Erikson's me,
judgment of the ballast tanks became a scapegoat of the disaster. The addition of the lifeboats was already noted is a problem in nineteen fifteen. In an article called problems growing out of the titanic disaster, Thomas, I Parkinson wrote, quote the Eastland turn turtle at her dark in Chicago. It has even been suggested that her lifeboat equipment to make the boat top heavy Parkinson then went on to criticise the overall trend of basing new safety regulations on the latest tragedy. Rather than taking a holistic approach, saying quote: file The burning of the slogan. There was agitation for more careful inspection and a better supply of wife belts. Following Italic the meat of better lifeboat equipment was emphasised and now following the eastland. It is reported that the Department of Commerce has framed a bill to give the federal government control of the construction of vessels of more than one hundred tonnes. This activity to remedies
civic defects immediately after each accident tends to prove, as in the law of negligence, that the fair we are to act prior to accidents, involve some lack of care. The gradual Patching of our laws may ultimately make them more satisfactory than they are now, but we cannot hope to avoid disaster. on the water until our rules and regulations and the laws on which they are based are revised? to meet modern developments in the building and operation of ships. After careful study of the whole problem, in all its many ramifications, the EAST Lynne was raised from the river bed on August, fourteenth nineteen fit team and sold to the? U S: Navy. On November twenty first of nineteen seventeen, it was re, outfitted and operated as the. U S, S will met until nineteen forty five, it was sold for scrap on October thirty, first nineteen, forty six as a total,
I note the armory that was the temporary morgue after the disaster used to be home to Oberlin Breeze Harpo studios since been torn down. cream for Mcdonald's new headquarters, where many reports that it was white haunted because of having been home to all of those bodies. That was my next question We have our hunting legacy story, yeah, so listen. We we very frequently talk about disasters they happened and then afterward new legislation was passed to prevent that same disaster from happening again. I think this is the only time you ve told a story where a disaster had happened and new laws were passed and then those laws turned out to have unintended negative consequences yeah like when we talk about theatre fires, like that. The need for clear egress for everyone has not caused to the rest of my life similar issues, other safety,
regulations that have arisen from disasters. I can't think of a one that tat sort of this impact that did not go the way that they were hoping. It is very interesting to me that in nineteen fifteen, at least one person was already saying we need to look at this whole problem and figure out the best way to approach it rather than having this piecemeal response to each disaster there, which I think it's in some industries. That is a pattern that still exists Today, I am thinking about every time I go to the airport and there like. There are a series of steps that you have to take up to board an airplane that are based on either a prior incident or a prior threat, rather than a systemic review of the whole security picture to make recommendation that do have listener. Male, that's, hopefully,
more, cheaper, more cheaper. It is also pretty short because I felt latest episode was a little longer and wait here than is often the case. This is from Curtis who also sent lots of topic suggestions and also note that Lake Erie is still quite thirty in spite of years of clean up, which is definitely true and kurdish, says I am from one of the suburbs of Cleveland Ohio. And regularly drive over and hang out by the river to spend a large part of my whole life My family has been here for generations on my mom side, so naturally I was excited to listen to your episode and, let me tell you it was an emotional experience for me. I never realised that the fire was poor. Soulier indirectly, the reason for our poor image, the sense of same has always weighed on and gaining a handle on how it came about actually brought me to tears. I really appreciate it or treatment of it. We were very kind. Cleveland is actually a real
lovely place in some areas, although we do, of course, as you said, have our problems. So thank you. I shall I say thanks. Ah I often when we do in episode. That is in some way critical of a place that we don't live. I I am hopeful that people who live there are not going to be personally hurt by what we have said. So it was very nice to hear from someone local that that was not the case. So thank you. So much hurt us. If you like to write to us about this or any other podcast, what history pike ass. It has two works: dot com, rough on Facebook at Facebook that calm, Flash missed in history, twitter, invest in history, Tumblr missed in history, Pinterest, Esther. all those things. Mr history, you can come to our website that MR history dot com and you will find an archive every single episode when we're done. If you are having problems, replaying or Pont casts you have it
Shooting document there now with lots of ships that help in almost all cases, show notes Rhapsodes Holly and I have lots of stuff. You can also come to our parent companies website which, as MR history dot com, you ll find lots of stuff about other interesting things, including lots of other shipwrecks, do all that and a whole lot more. It has therefore start com or MR history dot com for more on this, and thousands of other topics visit has therefore exactly it's. Your fault, you haven't achieved your died and exercise goals. Chances are you ve been following bad advice? Well enough is enough it's time for you to listen to the experts and get me results. I'm Tom HOLLAND exercise physiologist in host a fitness disrupted. A groundbreaking podcasting debunks, the top
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