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Buffalo Evening News January 27, 1938

Falls Bridge Plunges Into Gorge; Workmen Narrowly Escape Crash
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Thousands See Span Collapse with Huge Roar
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Workmen Withdrawn 10 -Minutes Before Crash Occurs Without Casualty; Sheared Off Cleanly From Both Sides

By Buffalo Evening News Staff Reporter

NIAGARA FALLS, Jan. 27.-- The Falls View Bridge collapsed at 4:12 o'clock this afternoon.

With a roar that reverberated from the vast gorge, the huge structure sheared off cleanly from both approaches.

Thousands of spectators witnessed tha actual collapse.

As the bridge began its descent a great cry went up: "It's down."

No one was injured.

Workmen who had been at the base of the abutment on the American side were withdrawn just 10 minutes before the collapse.

Had the workmen remained on the ice, probably all of them would have been killed. The spot where they had been working just a few minutes earlier was covered by a mass of twisted wreckage.

One eye-witness, Robert M. Argy, ticket agent at the American side of the bridge gave a graphic description of the bridges end"

"The bridge collapsed with a terrific roar and rumble at 4:12 o'clock. All you could see was a stream of snow shooting in the air as the bridge pulled away from the piers. It crashed to the bottom and did not move."

 

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Spectators Amazed

Spectators were amazed at the manner in which the bridge collapsed. Those who expected the structure to give way under the pressure of the terrific ice jam had expected it to sag into the gorge from the American side.

However, when the crash came the bridge simply fell into the gorge from both side simultaneously. The approaches were left pointing out into the air, 160 feet above the gorge.

The huge structure had been shaking slightly just before the workers were taken off the job. Walter McCausland, representing the International Railway Company, bridge owners said the reason for the withdrawal was that the man could go no further in attempting to break up the ice jam with picks and shovels. He remarked, however, that the bridge had been shaking.

Buckles First in Middle

Although the bridge fell in the space of five seconds, it seemed to settle rather gently, according to eye-witness accounts of two other witnesses in the United States customs house.

The men were R.H. Farrar, a customs inspector, and H. St. Clare Fisher of Niagara Falls, Ont.

"The bridge buckled first into the middle," said Inspector Farrar. "After the the center dropped perhaps 40 feet the two ends came clear. Then the whole thing fell into the gorge. It fell on top of itself. That is, the arch crumpled and the treadway fell on top of it, so that the structural parts were were above one another in the same position they occupied when the bridge stood erect.

Geyser Of Snow Shoots Up

"There was no preliminary sound whatever. As the middle buckled there was a creaking and groaning of the twisting steel. Then the bridge settled gently. When it landed, a geyseof snow went up but the noise was not as intense as you might think."

 

 

 

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