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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in North Idaho: Remarkably, a drawbridge collapse didn’t seriously hurt anyone

 (S-R archives)
(S-R archives)

The drawbridge over the St. Joe River crashed down onto the steamer Flyer and smashed into the upper deck.

The purser narrowly escaped death. His office was demolished, along with part of the engine room. He emerged from the wreckage with only a few minor bruises and wrenches.

Fortunately, there were only a few passengers aboard the steamer, which was part of the Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Red Collar Line. None was on the deck at the time and none was injured, but the “whole upper deck of the boat was shifted several inches.”

High winds had apparently made the drawbridge “unmanageable,” which caused it to collapse and strike the boat squarely in the center.

“There were two lucky things in this accident – the miraculous escape of purser (E.J.) Proffit, and the fact that the bridge did not strike the steam boiler,” the president of the Red Collar Line said.

The boat was able to limp back to Coeur d’Alene under its own power. The company hoped to repair it and eventually return it to service.

From the missing money file: A heartfelt plea went out to return an aged man’s lost life savings.

Gottlieb Fell, 82, had been making the trip from Greenacres to Spokane with $500 in a tobacco sack in his inside pocket. He was coming to Spokane to purchase a house for himself and his wife, and he was “bubbling over with the prospect.”

When he got to Spokane, the sack was gone. He retraced his steps to the stage office, but there was no trace. He believed that perhaps the sack had been picked up either in the stage or on the downtown streets.

His daughter said it had “almost broken my father’s heart,” and that he will pay a liberal reward to anyone who returns the cash.

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