Key West, FL Hurricane and Houseboat Rescue, Oct 1906

Men killed working on the railroad, Key West FL Hurricane


Storm-driven Men on Rafts Rescued Only in the Nick of Time.

Survivors of Wrecked Boat in Florida Storm Followed by man-eating Sharks.

Special to the Washington Post

Mobile, Ala., Oct 22--Charles Anderson, Otto Brink, Joseph L. Melson, and Charles Olsen, survivors from houseboat No 4, of the Florida East Coast Railroad, that was blown to sea and wrecked by the hurricane that visited the south coast of Cuba on October 8, were landed in this city to-day by the Mallory liner Colorado, and to-night were sent to Jacksonville, Fla.

They report 104 men drowned from this boat. The men were picked up at 5 o'clock on Friday morning last, ninety miles off Key West, Fla. A small boat was put out from the Colorado and the half-starved and half-crazed men were taken on board. They were almost nude, their clothing having been washed off them. The men say that had they not been rescued at this time, they could not have lasted two hours longer.

Melson, who was captain of the houseboat, said that the hurricane began at 7 o'clock Thursday morning, and that by 8 o'clock had tossed the boat from her moorings. Two big extra anchors were put out, but the wind increased in velocity and the houseboat was carried away, a number of men being killed and a number having their legs and arms broken.

Melson said that there were at least 150 men on the boat, including 27 horses, and says that 104 were killed and drowned. He said that several men were actually blown from the boat, so great was the wind that struck the key.

Melson said that the storm continued until late Thursday night, and the time they spent on the raft in the water filled their minds with terror, as a great many man-eating sharks came close by them.

The terrific wind damaged the new work on the Florida East Coast Railroad Company to the extent of several millions, and more than fifty boats were destroyed.

The Washington Post, Washington, DC 23 Oct 1906