100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Tragedy At US Naval Training Station In Illinois

Lake Bluff, Illinois was settled in 1836. It was first known as Dwyer Settlement then Oak Hill (1848), Rockland (1859), and then finally Lake Bluff (1882). It became residential railroad suburb by the late 1880s. In 1895 the village incorporated and erected a two-story public school. The Great Lakes Naval Training Station was completed in 1911. It is the largest single training facility for the US Navy and is a thousand miles from the nearest ocean.

On September 15, 1912 25 training apprentices ages 16-20 boarded a sailing cutter and were out for about 2 hours when they ran into trouble. A squall hit the boat and it was driven onto a sand bar. They were in shallow water but there was 45mph wind. The cutter was swamped and the boys aboard swam for shore.

“All around the boat the water was alive with boys trying to get ashore. It was a horrible struggle. They couldn’t seem to make any headway against all the waves and the wind. Pretty soon I saw it wasn’t any use to stick to the boats and jumped as far towards the shore as I could and tried to swim. There was nothing doing. I couldn’t get ahead. But finally I hit something and someone dragged me out of the water.”

For 5 hours rescues were attempted while men and women lined the shore with blankets and whiskey. It is feared 12 have drowned.

“Learning To Lower A Boat”
US Naval Training Training Station
Great Lakes, Illinois

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