- On July 24, 1915, at about 7:30 A.M., the proud, sleek, Great
Lakes steamer known as the Eastland rolled over onto its port side
in the Chicago River near the Clark Street Bridge, taking the
lives of 835 people, many trapped below decks, upside down and in
total darkness, helpless to escape the deluge of rushing water.
Only heroic rescue efforts kept the fatality count from reaching a
much higher number.
- As it is, the Eastland ranks as the worst disaster in Great
Lakes annals and is often mentioned in the same breath as the
Titanic, Lusitania and General Slocum as the greatest maritime
disasters in history.
- The Eastland Disaster, the latest entry in Southport Video's
ever-expanding library of notable shipwreck programs, recreates
the Eastland story in stunning detail, from its 1903 construction
in Port Huron, Michigan, to a minute-by-minute account of its
horrifying capsizing a dozen years later. Enhancing this
compelling presentation are numerous rare photographs and artwork;
newspaper headlines; a computer-generated recreation of the
tragedy; and several in-depth interviews with experts on the
disaster, including George W. Hilton, author of Eastland: Legacy
of the Titanic.
- Shortly after 6:30 A.M., passengers began boarding the Eastland;
and it was soon apparent that the ship was top-heavy and
struggling to stay afloat. At the time of the disaster, nearly
2500 people were aboard the vessel, which had begun to list only
minutes after the boarding began. Frantic efforts to keep the
Eastland from rolling onto its side were desperately futile. When
the ship finally capsized, hundreds of people were trapped inside,
while countless others were pitched in the Chicago River.
Thousands of people stood on the nearby docks, watching helplessly
as the drama unfolded.
- This fascinating program brings history back to life.