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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Crowds swarm scene of Division Street bridge collapse

From our archives, 100 years ago

The Division Street bridge collapse, which killed five, dominated the news the day after the disaster.

“Piteous Pleadings of Passengers Pinned in the Wreck,” read one headline. Two streetcars full of passengers plunged into the icy Spokane River in the collapse.

One rescuer said, “We could not see much down in the river, but could hear screaming and people yelling for help.”

One man who had been trapped in the wreckage said, “There were people calling on the other side of the car for a minute or two, but the calls stopped pretty soon.”

Later, police were called upon to keep the crowds back from the rescue scene, “excitement being particularly keen while the dead were being removed.”

The Spokesman-Review said the cause of the collapse “could not be definitely stated.” The city was already denying any financial blame.

The Spokesman-Review called for a thorough investigation.

“Placing the responsibility for the Division Street bridge disaster can not call back to life the dead victims nor ease the sufferings of the injured,” said an editorial. “It may prevent repetition of the accident at another bridge, and it may stimulate increased vigilance by city officials and employees and the responsible heads of of the street railway companies, whose modern heavy cars put the city’s bridges to severe and increasing strain.”

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