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Wednesday, September 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Work on Post Street Bridge suspended after two men killed and many injured when falsework collapses

Work on the Post Street bridge was stopped until further notice after two men died when the falsework supporting the structure failed, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Feb. 7, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Work on the Post Street bridge was stopped until further notice after two men died when the falsework supporting the structure failed, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Feb. 7, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Work on the Post Street bridge was stopped until further notice, because to proceed “would be criminal,” said the city engineer.

Two workers, including the project superintendent, Dave Cullen, died when the falsework supporting the structure collapsed and sent dozens of men into the icy Spokane River. A third man, previously missing and believed dead, had been found alive. Yet many others were still in the hospital with serious injuries.

Both the project foreman and the city engineer had no explanation for the collapse. The foreman said he “was down all through the falsework yesterday morning and there wasn’t a thing wrong with it – everything was in perfect shape as far as I could see.”

The city engineer said he walked over the bridge just an hour or two before the collapse and detected no vibration or any other sign of problems.

Engineers studying the wreckage said the falsework, with its 1,000 pound load of concrete, “swung neither south or north, but fell like a plumb line.”

The coroner announced an inquest into the deaths, but he said “it is possible that there is no one living upon whom blame can be attached.”

In an ironic twist, the man had designed and built the falsework, Philip Kennedy, had fallen off the bridge a week earlier and drowned.

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