Niagara Falls, NY Bridge Collapse, Jan 1938

Bridge just before collapse. Collapsed Bridge Ruins of Bridge Another View of Debris

FALLING TEMPERATURE AVERTS COLLAPSE OF NIAGARA FALLS BRIDGE.

Niagara Falls, N. Y., Jan. 27 -- (INS) -- Battered and twisted, its steel girders tangled grotesquely, the shimmering Falls View "honeymoon" bridge linking the United States and Canada across the Niagara river, today emerged the victor in a dramatic battle with a huge ice jam which, as the directed by an unseen hand, sought inexorably to destroy the graceful span.
A sharp drop in temperature, tumbling the mercury to eight above zero, coupled with the ceaseless toil of hastily recruited workers, relieved pressure of the 100-foot ice pack at the foundations of the bridge this morning.
Triumphant but weary, owners of the structure declared that danger of collapse had passed, at least temporarily.
Toiling under floodlights thruout[sic] the night, laborers with picks and shovels dug a 60-foot ditch around abutments on the American side. When clear water was reached wooden bulwarks were placed against the sorely torn girders.
Receding temperatures checked the flow of ice over the fall and indications were that the lower river current was gradually carrying away much ice from under the jam.
The tremendous force of the floes have pushed piles of ice 100 feet high up under the bridge. Iron girders were bent and twisted like wire. The deck of the bridge reared ten feet in the air yesterday afternoon. The main lower arch girder of the bridge seems bent and twisted beyond hope of repair.
The deck of the bridge sagged several feet from the American side. The base of support on this side seems moved about 7 feet from its original resting place.
The Falls View bridge is one of three structures spanning the gorge near the falls.

The Lima News Ohio 1938-01-27

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"HONEYMOON BRIDGE" COLLAPSES WITH LOSS OF MILLION DOLLARS.

Niagara Falls, N. Y., Jan. 28 -- (AP) -- An international crowd of several thousand lined the lofty banks of Niagara Gorge today for a glimpse of twisted steel and concrete on the icy carpet far below -- all that remained of America's famous "Honeymoon Bridge."
With a roar that drowned the cataract's thunder, the towering structure succumbed late yesterday to a 30-hour battering by the worst Niagara river ice jam in 30 years.
It was the second span on the side to fall from attacks by nature. In 1899 a giant suspension span was blown down in a gale.
Thousands watched the shiny tons of steel plunge 200 feet onto the grinding river ice, so thick that it prevented the shattered bridge remnents from sinking into the 175-foot depths of Niagara river.
Even the gigantic lights on the falls were out last night because the generating plant of the Ontario Hydro Electric commission was covered almost entirely by the ice jam and forced to close.
Company officials estimated damage at nearly a million dollars.
U. S. Meterologist JAMES H. SPENCER, at Buffalo blamed a "continuation of bad weather circumstances" for the collapse of the bridge.
"Thin ice on Lake Erie, a five-day January thaw, and nearly three days of constant high winds caused the disaster," he said, explaining that the thaw cracked up the think ice and the winds sent it tumbling into the Niagara river, over the falls and down the gorge where it jammed against the bridge.
The "Maids of The Mists," two steamboats which have carried thousands of tourists to the falls and as famous as the bridge itself, were barely visible downstream where they had been hurled against the walls of the gorge by the ice.
Last night officials of the International Railways company owner of the bridge, held a conference to decide whether to rebuild. A spokesman said no decision was reached.
Meanwhile Canadian-U. S. traffic was being routed over the Peace bridge at Buffalo and two other bridges below the falls.

The Lima News Ohio 1938-01-28

Comments

Niagara Falls "walk" Jan.25, 1938

My mother and I drove from Toronto on Jan.24/25th, 1938 to see the frozen Falls and river. I was eight years of age. On Jan 25th we walked down the path to the "Maid of the Mist" pier area, piled high with snow and ice, and joined in with perhaps a hundred other people to walk across the river ice bridge to the American Falls.
My mother walked halfway across, I raced to the base of the frozen American Falls before being called back.
Several people were climbing the huge snow and ice covered rocks. I doubt that any reached the top of the Falls. Some other walkers had started toward the Canadian Falls. I did not see any attempting to climb. Possibly the immensity of the Falls and the wide span of the river gave them second thoughts as to their safety. The temperature was biting cold, somewhere approximating zero fahrenheit. Authorities started denying access to the frozen river the afternoon of the 26th, warning that the ice jam would likely break apart in the next few hours. The breakup came in the late afternoon of the next day, January 27th, shortly after 4 p.m. The large masses of ice jammed against the supports of the Honeymoon Bridge causing its destruction. It was replaced four years later with the current bridge.
James Pearce, Peterborough, Ont.