Troy, NY Landslide Into College Building, Mar 1859

Etching of the Landslide



From the Troy Daily Whig.
A terrible avalanche -- from which calamity our city has been free for many years -- occurred about eight o'clock last evening involving the almost entire destruction of the magnificent building now in course of erection at the head of Washington street, near the base of Mount Ida, known as St. Peter's College. The blow is a crushing one to Father HAVERMANS and the many friends of the institution.
The College was located upon a large plateau, to which the approach was by a broad flight of steps. It was the highest building in that vicinity and nearest the hill. Below it, at the base of the steps are a number of houses upon Washington street. The building was intended to be a very large one, 200 feet in length and five stories high, with two towers. Only two stories had been completed, and the work of construction was invigorous proseention at the time of the disater, by MR. McGUIRE, the mason in charge.
Mount Ida commenced its slope about thirty feet in the rear of the building, and from thence rose quite gradually to the summit. An avalanche was never dreamed of.
At 8 o'clock last evening the slide took place. A man who lives near by and was a witness to the catastrophe says that the earth slid down with very little noise till it reached the rear wall of the college. Here its progress was stopped fro a moment, till gathering new strength, it burst the barrier and with a sound like distant thunder, filled the building in a moment, demolishing beams, link-walls and partitions, and covering the entire central part of the edifice. The front wall was also crushed in, but it sufficed to stay the progress of the avalanche.
A large crowd soon assembled at the scene, and many of them risked their lives in vain attempts to explore the ruins and discover the extent of the disaster. People could be seen in the bright moonlight standing upon projecting masses of earth, directly under overhanging bluffs. Although the particulars of the calamity cannot be accurately ascertained till today, it is feared that St. Peter's College can never be rebuilt in the same locality. The centre of the building is buried up to the depth of several feet.
At the south about one-quarter of the building is still standing, at the north hardly more than the end wall remains. It is said that from $10,000 to $15,000 had been lately expended on the work, the foundation being very solid. Probably two-thirds of this amount will be a total loss. No workmen had been in the building since the previious day, (St. Patrick's being a holiday,) but twenty minutes before the occurrence a crowd of boys were playing upon the beams and walls. The time of the accident prevented a fearful loss of life -- over one hundred mechanics being engaged on the building.
It is conjected, that if the college and its terrace had not been constructed, unrestrained by this barrier, the earth would have reached the tenement houses and perhaps even destroyed the hospital.
The hill is now in a very dangerous state, and another avalanche may be apprehended at any moment. The mountain is undermined, and an immense mass of earth has little or no support. The occupants of many houses in the vicinity have moved all their household goods to a place of safety.
The noise of the avalanche was heard all over the lower part of the city. The event produced an intense excitement. The fact that it resulted in no loss of life or limb should be a source of congratulation.

Central City Daily Courier Syracuse New York 1859-03-22