Chicago, IL Eastland Disaster, Jul 1915 - Coroner's Verdict

The Coroner's Verdict

The inquest verdict, handed down early today, follows:

* * *"It is our judgment that the steamship Eastland was both improperly constructed for the service employed, and improperly loaded, operated and maintained, and that the parties named are responsible.* * *

"We further recommend that the state's attorney and grand jury investigate carefully the condition of the construction of this boat, to ascertain if there can be

found legal methods by which those responsible can be held accountable.

"We further recommend that the state's attorney and the grand jury investigate the details of purchase and sale of the different commerce carriers which have owned the Eastland, with a view of determining whether knowledge of the instability of this boat and the hazards attendant thereon have been known to the seller and have not been disclosed by the sellers to the purchasers of this boat. * * *

"It is our opinion that the federal government system of permitting the construction of vessels for use by common carriers is unscientific and a menace to the public safety. There is not now nor has there ever been an inspection service maintained by the federal government for the purpose of determining the stability of boats offered for passenger service. It is the judgment of this jury that the present method of determining the passenger-carrying capacity of vessels is not founded on any proper basis.

"In recommending that Inspectors Reid and Eckliff be held to the grand jury should the courts of Illinois not have jurisdiction, we recommend to the department of justice of the United States that they undertake to mete justice to these parties."

Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, IN 29 Jul 1915


Blamed by a coroner's jury for the Eastland disaster and held to a grand jury for indictment on charges of manslaughter, these men see trouble ahead. Harry Pedersen was captain of the unfortunate Eastland and J. M. Erickson the chief engineer. Robert Reid is federal inspector of steamships who gave the Eastland license to carry 2,500 passengers on July 2. Charles C. Eckliff is also a federal inspector of steamships and is equally to blame with Reid for allowing the Eastland to increase the number of passengers from 2,183 to 2,500. W.K. Greenbaum is manager of the Indiana Transportation company, which chartered the Eastland for the Western Electric excursion.

Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, IN 30 Jul 1915



Answers Attacks on His Method of Probing Eastland Disaster.


Chicago City Council Appeals to President Wilson for Special Commission. Public Funeral Services for No. 396, Lad Whose Father, Mother and Sister Also Were Victims of Tragedy.

Chicago July 31--With one week elapsed since the steamer Eastland sank at its wharf with 2,500 Excursionists on board, investigation to determine Blame for the accident tonight had simmered down to a Federal grand jury inquiry, although a county grand jury continued to hear testimony and Secretary of Commerce Redfield went ahead with the steamboat inspection examination required by law.

Federal Judge Landis forbade the examination by others of witnesses desired for the Federal grand jury and had taken possession of the ship and all documentary evidence.

Secretary Redfield today took notice of adverse criticism of his inquiry, and in a speech before the hearing said he was profoundly pained by the attacks made on him before he had had the time to delve into the case.

Asks Special Investigation

The request of the Chicago city council for a special commission to be appointed by the President to investigate the Eastland disaster was forwarded today to Washington with a personal letter from Mayor Thompson to President Wilson, urging compliance with the request for a thorough investigation. The letter is expected to reach President Wilson next Monday.

One body was recovered from the Eastland today, making the total known dead 836. While 158 are still reported missing by the Western Electric Company giving a possible total dead of 934, the missing list has rapidly dwindled.

The Washington Post, Washington, DC 1 Aug 1915