Tacoma, WA Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse, Nov 1940 - Crashes 180 Feet


TACOMA, Wash., Nov. 7 — Cracking in a forty-two-mile an hour wind, the $6,400,000 Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed with a roar today and plunged into the waters of Puget Sound, 190 feet below. Two men on the bridge, one a newspaper man a t the wheel of his auto about half way across, the other a logging-truck driver, abandoned their vehicles and crawled to safety as the roadway of the bridge crumbled beneath them with huge chunks of concrete flying into the air "like popcorn." Another truck, bearing a man and a woman, had just driven onto the been reached span. It was lost. The two occupants escaped. The newspaper man, Leonard Coatsworth of The News-Tribune, lost his daughter's pet cocker spaniel in the accident. The dog went down with the car. "I didn't think of the dog when I first jumped out of the car after it became impossible to drive farther," Mr. Coatsworth said. "When I did remember and started back, the bridge was tossing so violently and breaking up so rapidly it was impossible to reach the animal." Mr. Coatsworth, hands and knees bloody and bruised, told how he was thrown repeatedly as he tried to run to shore. Finally, he was forced down on all fours as he struggled over sections of the bridge, pitching at 45 degree angles, and made his way 500 yards to the support towers, 425 feet high. These towers, with their huge suspension cables spanning the narrows, are all that remains of the structure that was built largely as a defense measure to connect Seattle and Tacoma with the Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton. The span was completed only last July. The third largest single suspension bridge in the world, it had a center span of 2,800 feet and 1,000-foot approaches at each end.

Nov. 8, 1940 edition of "The New York Times"