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100 years ago in Spokane: Union demands answers into collapse of Post Street Bridge, which killed 3 workers

A union demanded an investigation into the collapse of the Post Street bridge, which killed three workers, and the Spokane chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers was planning its own independent investigation, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Feb. 10, 1917 (Jonathan Brunt / Spokesman-Review archives)
A union demanded an investigation into the collapse of the Post Street bridge, which killed three workers, and the Spokane chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers was planning its own independent investigation, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Feb. 10, 1917 (Jonathan Brunt / Spokesman-Review archives)

A union charged “criminal negligence” and demanded an investigation into the collapse of the Post Street bridge, which killed three workers.

The International Hod Carriers, Building and Common Laborers Union demanded a probe, and other trade unions were expected to follow suit.

Meanwhile, the Spokane chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers was planning its own independent investigation.

Nobody yet knew what caused the collapse, although something obviously went wrong with the falsework (temporary structure).

It collapsed without warning, sending 20 or more workers into the icy Spokane River.

Amidst all of this controversy, the Spokane City Council “serenely passed the buck up to the coroner’s jury,” said the Spokane Daily Chronicle, and “refused to initiate any kind of probe.”

In fact, bridge construction was resuming “in exactly the same manner” as before. The city inspector said “no changes were contemplated.”

From the war beat: Germany was attempting to defuse tensions with the U.S. by circulating a proposal vowing to refrain from torpedoing neutral ships without warning.

This proposal was being received coldly by the U.S., which remained on the brink of war over Germany’s earlier sinking of American vessels.

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