Quebec City, QC Bridge Collapse, Aug 1907

Quebec City Bridge Collapse 1907.jpg Quebec Bridge Collapse 1907.jpg

The Quebec bridge was begun about seven years ago, and it was to be finished in 1909. Subsidies had been granted by the federal and provincial governments and the city of Quebec, and the estimated cost of the work was $10,000,000. The Phoenixville Bridge company of Pennsylvania had the contract for the construction of the bridge and were working from both sides of the river.


Quebec, Que., Aug. 20. -- With the first break of dawn, half a dozen government and Quebec Bridge company tugs began a search of the St. Lawrence river for the victims of last night's catastrophe. The toll of death caused by the collapse of the great Cantilever bridge numbers at least seventy-five and may reach eighty-five. Up to an early hour today less than twenty bodies had been recovered. The terrific drop of the great steel structure from 180 feet above the surface of the river crushed the bodies of many of the workmen in a frightful manner and it is feared many of them never will be found.

Many of the dead were Americans brought here by the Phoenix Bridge company of Phoenixville, Pa., which had the contract for the iron work on the bridge.

Among the known dead are:
D. A. GANSEL, general foreman for the Phoenix Bridge company.
Chief Engineer BIRKS.
Fireman DAVIS, of the bridge switch engine.
JOHN WHALEY, foreman.
JIM IDAH, Indian foreman.
About thirty Caughuawaga Indians employed as laborers.
VICTOR JAMES and HENRY HARDY, brothers, of New Liverpool, Que.
WILFRED PROLUEX, of New Liverpool.

Early this morning row boats were sent out to examine the superstructure showing above the water near the shore to ascertain if any of the workmen were imprisoned in the mass of twisted iron work. None was found alive. Just below the surface of the water two bodies were seen, but it will be impossible to reach them until the tide goes out.

Both the local and the dominion authorities have taken steps to investigate the cause of the disaster and if possible fix the responsibility.

Some of the workmen expressed the belief that the anchor pier gave way under the tremendous strain of the overhanging steel work. M. P. DAVIS of Ottawa, the contractor who built the piers, made a hasty examination last night, however, and reported them to be in good condition although the steel superstructure had fallen upon them.

A locomotive and several freight cars loaded with steel girders were moving out upon the bridge before the structure collapsed. Engineer JESS, who was on the locomotive, went into the river with his engine, but was picked up three hundred feet below the bridge. Fireman DAVIS perished. Engineer JESS was removed to a hospital where he rapidly recovered from the effects of the plunge into the water. According to his story the steel work overhanging the river was the first to show signs of weakness. At the first sign of danger JESS shut off steam but his locomotive continued to move toward the end of the bridge which had begun to totter and a moment later the engine went into the river.

The Mansfield News Ohio 1907-08-30


Read another article about the disaster (below)