37 Killed When Pier Collapses Near Niagara Falls
Grand Island is located in western New York on Lake Erie. It is the largest island in the Niagara River and 4th largest in the state. Originally settled by the French, it became British after the French and Indian War. The Town of Grand Island was organized in 1852. By the end of the 19th century it developed into a tourist town for those who wanted to enjoy Lake Erie. Many steamers left Buffalo, New York for the resorts during the summer months. Social organizations chartered these boats, often accompanied by their own bands. Eagle Park is a resort town located 12 miles above Niagara Falls.
On June 23, 1912 1,000 revelers who were members of the fraternal organization International Order of Foresters were stopped at Eagle Park. They had spent the whole day having fun and made the excursion there in 2 trips. Tired, many wanted to get home quickly. After the first group left by steamer the remaining picnickers waited impatiently. When the steamer was spotted coming to picked them up, they all rush onto the pier. As the steamer tied up along side, the overcrowding and jostling in order to board the boat first was too much for the old pier and it gave way. The center fell first and the rest began to crumple. 250 people went into the water, many caught and mangles in the wreckage of the pier. The current is very strong and several people weighed down by there clothing were carried downstream and it is feared the went over Niagara Falls. In all 37 people lost their lives.
(I must apologize for an error in covering this story. When I first encountered it, it was on a website “Grand Island Pictures From The Past” : http://www.isledegrande.com/picpage/picpage2009.htm
They listed the date as June 12, 1912. I did not recheck it as I should and published it on that date. I am sorry and hope things like this will not happened again. There are many factual errors online and sometimes I catch them and sometimes I don’t.)