Spier Falls, NY Ferry Boat Capsized, Mar 1903

PANIC STARTED BY BOY CAUSES LOSS OF NINETEEN LIVES.

FERRY BOAT ON HUDSON RIVER IS CAPSIZED.

ACCIDENT AT SPIER FALLS.

MEN ARE DROWNED WHILE ON WAY TO WORK.

THREE BODIES RECOVERED AND SIXTEEN OTHERS ARE MISSING; PROBABLY BURIED UNDER LOG BOOM.

Glens Falls, N.Y., March 7. -- Nineteen men are dead as a result of the capsizing of the boat used by the workmen at the Spier Falls, about ten miles west of Glen Falls, on the Hudson River.
More than a thousand men are employed there at present in the construction of the power dam of the Hudson River Power company. The laborers and many of the masons are Italians who live in shanties on the north side of the river.
The main portion of the work is carried on at present on the opposite side of the river. The men have been in the habit of crossing a small bridge where the river flows through the unfinished portion of the dam, but the river has been rising for several days and the company, fearing the bridge was unsafe, destroyed it with dynamite.
Below the work is a ferry. The boat is a scow-shaped affair about thirty feet long and about thirteen feet wide, and is operated by means of cables. It is large enough to carry a heavily loaded team and as many as 150 men have been taken across at one time.
Yesterday when the men were being carried across, an Italian boy became frightened and fell overboard. He was rescued, however. This morning seventy or eighty men got aboard the boat, leaving a big crowd on the bank waiting for the next trip. WHen a few feet from shore the water sloshed against the rail, and the boy who had fallen overboard the previous day seized one of the tackle ropes which ran from the overhead cable to the stern of the boat. Some of the men started toward him, and instantly the boat careened and filled.
The Hudson, swollen by the fresh rains, bore a score or more of the struggling men down the stream. Many others succeeded in catching hold of the boat, which had righted, and they clung there until they were pulled ashore. The wildest excitement prevailed, but the current carried many of the men toward shore, where they were rescued.
Teams were quickly harnessed and loaded with skilled log-drivers and sent down along the river to points where the bodies would likely be found. Dozens of dinner pails, hats and coats were fished out, but it was nearly 6 o'clock before the first body was found. This was found in a log jam two miles below the dam and was recognized as that of an Italian interpreter.
The river for miles is being watched and dragged in hopes of finding the bodies of the other victims. There were but two or three English speaking men on the boat, the Italians being all designated by number. The roll of the men was called, and tonight everybody has been accounted for except sixteen men, and it is certain that these men were drowned. Those known to be dead are:
MICHAEL KENNEDY, married; leaves a wife and four children.
"CIGARETTE," the Italian boy who started the panic.
FRED FERRAN, Italian.
Sixteen others are missing.
It is unlikely that all the bodies will be recovered. The river is full of logs and at the high boom, five miles down the river, there are many thousands of them.

Salt Lake Tribune Utah 1903-03-08