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We Remember
This is a community dedicated to remembering and learning from the great tragedies of history. In doing so, we have found a few links to site we've found especially informative, which are listed below.

If you have a site that you would like to see featured here, or would like to find a site with information on an event, please contact the administrator. Due to limited space, links are subject to removal or rotation.
The Plague, 1665-66 The Great Fire of London, 1666 The Galveston Hurricane, 1900 The Coconut Grove Fire, 1942 The Hartford Circus Fire, 1944
On this date
Jan. 17th, 2014 @ 05:01 pm disaster song project
Hi Everyone-

I just thought you might be interested in this website I've created - www.thedisastersongproject.com - (it's attached to my personal site). It is a collection of pages with notes about and photos and/or illustrations of a number of disasters that had songs written about them. Some of the songs are from historic sheet music, some are originals. I plan on updating the site periodically- adding photos or illustrations, adding to or changing the notes, and maybe even adding pages.

Hope you'll enjoy- please let me know what you think!

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Apr. 14th, 2006 @ 11:19 am (no subject)
The truth about 9/11.
Please educate yourself.
This is one of the most comprehensive films you can watch.

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Oct. 31st, 2005 @ 11:23 am (no subject)
Did anyone catch The Plague or The Next Plague on the History Channel last night? Two very good programs on one of history's deadliest diseases, and the possible results of the next pandemic.

Both very good, I hope they re-run them. It was worth catching.

I especially like how often they emphasised that it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. We're long overdue for a pandemic, and because of easy transportation and our fast-paced lives, when it does hit, it will probably kill in amounts not seen before. One of the last things The Next Plague pointed out was that there's nothing we can really do to prevent it, and when it hits, there's not a lot we'll be able to do but let it run its course. The only real thing we can arm ourselves with is knowledge.
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Green Candle
Oct. 5th, 2005 @ 04:32 pm Researchers Reconstruct the 1918 Influenza Virus
It's been a very long time coming, but it looks like researchers have finally isolated and recreated the 1918 influenza virus. This CNN article explains.

Most people have heard of the Spanish Influenza. It was the name people eventually assigned to a the deadly strain of flu in 1918. Actually it earned that name before it even existed. See in early months in 1918, a flu swept the world. This strain was not deadly, though. It came through, hit the normal targets. Ravaged them with sickness for about three days, then disappeared again, and left them to recover for a couple of weeks. Of course most of the world was caught up in WWI at the time, so very few countries publicized that anyone was getting sick. Spain, however, was nuetral and its airways were unencumbered by political censorship of that kind. It began to get around that Spain was full of the flu - and before the deadly strain even hit, Spain had been saddled with the "Spanish Influenza."

No one thought much of it until later that year. The deadly virus seemed to spring out of nowhere, and spread rapidly. It attacked the young and healthy instead of the old, or the ones with weaker immune systems. And it was a killer. The effects on the body were pretty horrific. Doctors were shocked by hospitals lined with dying men and women, drowning to death in their own bodies. Hospitals overflowed, whole towns were quarantined.

All in all, the influenza killed more people then WWI, somewhere upwards of 40 million people.

It even inspired a skipping rhyme:

"I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza."

Scientist tried everything the could to dupicate the virus in hopes of finding the cure. They even took to getting "volunteers" from high security prisons (where they could not have come in contact with the virus previously) and using all manners of methods to infect them, including taking spittle or mucus directly from an infected victim and rubbing into their volunteer's eyes and throat.

Nothing worked, and none of the volunteers got sick. Scientists remained baffled.

The virus worked its course, then disappeared without a trace for decades, until Dr. Taubenberger and his team extracted some of the still-in-tact virus from a woman in Alaska who had been buried in permafrost, thus preserving her lungs.

The last I had read, there was nominal progress, but not much luck recreating the virus.

It's good to see these new leaps and strides.

(Due to time constraints and lack of materials on hand, I regret my lack of detail. I'll repost with more detail and references in the next day or so.)
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Green Candle
Jul. 26th, 2005 @ 08:59 pm Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, 1911
On Saturday, March 25, 1911 at 4:40 - just ten minutes before closing - a fire broke out on the top floors of the ten story Asch building in New York. 145 of the 500 employed there died that day, trapped in the building by locked doors and collapsed escape ladders, or jumping to their deaths from the eighth and ninth stories.

Sweatshops were common then, and have never really been eliminated to this day. But business practices make it easy for overcrowded, unsafe work environments to exist. Employers commonly hired contractors, who in turn would hire the laborers. The contractors were paid by the company, but they could pay their laborers whatever they liked. They could also hire any number of people, so the company would never really know exactly how many people were working for them at any one time - or who they were. These laborers mostly consisted of very young, very poor women who had immigrated to the US. Often child labor laws were overlooked and very young children were added to the roster. Today similar conditions still exist, especially among illegal immigrants.

Conditions inside the sweatshop would be considered intolerable by most people. Rows and rows of people lined up back-to-back, with hardly enough room to sit, sewing clothes. Workers spending ten to twelve hours a day for only a few dollars a week sewing large quantities of clothing. Their own coats and hats were hung together on a wall or strewn beside them.

It's little wonder that once the fire had started it spread so quickly that people began to leap to their death before the first firetruck had even arrived.

No one knows what started that fire, but there had been other small fires in the past. In fact most of the Jewish workers had recently gone on strike in an attempt to get a safer work area. There were only 27 water buckets on hand to put out the fire, and only one outdoor fire escape - which collapsed while people were making their way down. There were two frieght elevators that people used to get to their floors, one of which apparantly wasn't working at the time. There was one stairway inside, but the doors opened inward, and when the crush of panicked escapees crowded into it, it slammed closed, trapping hundreds of people inside. The people on the lower floors had time to collect themselves and get the doors opened to safety. For people on the upper floors, it was already too late.

Before firefighters had a chance to get to the building, the fire was already so severe that women were crowded onto ledges, some making the decision to jump the eight or nine stories to the pavement below, others pushed out by the crowds of hysterical people behind them. As crowds drew up, they watched in horror as mostly girls from the ages of 16 to 23 climbed out onto ledges and jumped. There were some men inside, picking up women and tossing them out of windows, or standing on ledges doing the same. It seems that compared to the fire consuming everything inside, falling to the death was considered more humane. The elevator, which could only hold ten to twelve people, made several trips before breaking down, after which many people hurled themselves into the shafts in a futile attempt to save themselves from the flames. On the ninth floor, the door to the stairs was locked. Rescue workers later found piles of bodies melted against it.

When the firefighters arrived, they were dismayed to find that the water from their hoses only reached to the seventh floor, and their ladders also didn't reach the victims on the top floors. All the while people were still jumping and burning. It must have been something truly horrendous to witness.

In the end there was only superficial damage to the "fireproof" building, but 145 workers had lost their lives and more were injured.

The aftermath of those few hours would haunt the city for a very long time. There were too many bodies for the local morgue to handle, so temporary morgues were put up. People were lined up for long hours to identify the bodies of their loved ones - often so badly burned that only a ring or piece of clothing could identify them. At the end 7 bodies were still unidentified.

What good came out of this?

The legislature, horrified by the fire, set out an investigation of sweatshop conditions in the city. The results of their investigation led to the creation of the labor laws that we have today protecting factory workers.

The Fire Prevention unit was added onto the Fire Department to rid buildings of fire hazards. This led to reformations in fire codes. Among other things, doors must now open outwards and exits are not to be locked during working hours, companies must have a sprinkler system if they employ more than 25 people, and fire drills are mandatory for all buildings without a sprinkler system. Any one of these things could have prevented a large number of deaths.

The building itself still stands and is now part of the New York University.

Information mostly taken from:
The Triangle Factory Fire A great site with many newspaper clippings, photos, political cartoons and interviews. They also have a section especially for students.

History Buff. A good site to get a summary of what happened that day.


Apologies to anyone who wanted to post on this subject. Please feel free to add more about this. I'd love to hear more about what happened.

Also, I do seem lean towards fires, don't I? As time permits, I will eventually be posting about the Chicago Fire of 1871. I'm also hoping to soon cover the 1918 Influenza pandemic and the cholera epidemics of the 1800s and early 1900s. Those will be more time consuming for me, as my references are all books, and while they're more credible that way, it also takes longer to compile the information. Of course, should anyone want to post on those subjects, please feel free. It'll take the summary pressure off. ;)
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Green Candle
May. 3rd, 2005 @ 06:20 pm The Monongah Mining Disaster of 1907
I grew up listening to "The New York Mining Disaster, 1941" by the BeeGees. In fact, for awhile when I was really little, it was one of my favorite songs. I've been trying to find out what disaster that song referred to, but I've had no luck so far. As far as I can tell it's not a real disaster. But the lyrics were very striking.

Here they are:

~In the event of something happening to me,
there is something I would like you all to see.
It's just a photograph of someone that I knew.

Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?
Do you know what it's like on the outside?
Don't go talking too loud, you'll cause a landslide, Mr. Jones.

I keep straining my ears to hear a sound.
Maybe someone is digging underground,
or have they given up and all gone home to bed,
thinking those who once existed must be dead.

Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?
Do you know what it's like on the outside?
Don't go talking too loud, you'll cause a landslide, Mr. Jones.

In the event of something happening to me,
there is something I would like you all to see.
It's just a photograph of someone that I knew.

Hvae you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?
Do you know what it's like on the outside?
Don't go talking too loud, you'll cause a landslide, Mr. Jones.

If anyone can tell me anything about this, I'd be eternally grateful. So far I've only been able to check online, but even Wikipedia didn't have anything on it.

However, in the spirit of mining disasters, I will relate The Monongah Mining Disaster.

It was the worst mining disaster in US history, and it took place in Monongah, West Virginia on December 9, 1907. That day at around ten o'clock - after the men and the breaker boys (young boys who worked in the mines) had started their shift - an explosion collapsed two mine entrances, trapping within the mines 380 workers, fire, and poisonous gas fumes caused by the disruption of the ventilation system. Of the 380 men and boys, only 18 made it out of the cave alive. Even some of the rescue workers were severly injured.

The cause of the explosion is still unknown, but it was thought to have been started by a carelessly open lantern or a dynamite blast gone wrong, igniting the coal dust in the mines. Thirteen days after the accident, the New York Times reported that these types of accidents were steadily increasing because upholdable safety regulations were too scarce, but little was done about it right away. Eventually this and other incidents caused people to admit that there was a serious problem, both as a health risk and a sheer lack of efficency.

In 1910 the government was forced to establish the US Bureau of Mines, who were supposed to look into improving the safety problems, but weren't given the power to do much of anything about the problems they were finding.

Overall, there was little good that came out of the Monongah Mining Disaster. It did raise awareness to the serious risks of the mining industry, but nothing was really done to improve the situation of these miners.
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Green Candle
Apr. 25th, 2005 @ 10:57 pm Galveston Hurricane

This is my first writeup for this group -- feedback and questions welcomed!

The Galveston Hurricane

Summary of Events (cribbed largely from Isaac's Storm, by Erik Larson)On Saturday, September 8th, 1900 a powerful hurricane blew into the coast of Texas, hitting Galveston Bay dead on. At the time, Galveston was booming town in a heated rivalry with Houston (just 50 miles to the north) to become the pre-eminant port town in Texas. The paper reported on Friday, Sept 7th, that the 1900 census showed a 30% increase in population in just ten years, and the city was reputed to have more millionaires per square mile than Newport, RI. Galveston had it's own electric power plant, telephone service, two telgraph companies, three concert halls, and twenty hotels.

The city occupied a long, narrow island at the southern end of Galveston Bay, accessible by three railroad trestles and a wagon bridge. The highest point on the island was just 8.7 feet above sea level. Flooding was a common occurance: houses were routinely built on pilons several feet high, and in some places the curbs on streets were three feet high. However, it was common opinion that Galveston could not possibly be badly affected by tropical storms of any kind. In fact, Issac Cline, a well-respected citizen who was head of the Texas Section of the newly-formed U.S. Weather Bureau, declared in 1891 "that Galveston will at some time be seriously damaged by some such disturbance, is simply an absurd delusion." He further wrote, with understandable if misplaced pride after Galveston had weathered a tropical storm, "It would be impossible for any cyclone to create a storm wave which could materially injure the city."

By Sunday, September 9th, the town had been nearly destroyed by a hurricane that was on an unusual but well-documented track over Cuba, across the Gulf of Mexico, and straight into the coast of Texas. Had it not been for the incredible hubris of turn-of-the-century America, combined with a bitter rivalry between the fledgling U.S. Weather Bureau and Cuban meteorologists, Galveston might have had some warning of what approached. As it was, the Weather Bureau remained certain that the storm would turn northeast, towards Florida. Even after the fact, some officials insisted that the Galveston hurricane was not the same that had blown over Cuba. That Isaac Cline was ignorant (through no fault of his own) of some basic signs of an approaching hurricane only made the basic problem worse.

Galveston itself was completely unprotected from tropical storms, despite the fact that two hurricanes had come ashore in 1875 and 1886, hitting Indianola (just 150 miles from Galveston). The second storm washed away the entire town, leaving it its wake a "universal wreck." Although Galveston responded initially by planning a dike to protect the town, after a few months interest waned.

On Saturday morning, the unusual weather had drawn the attention of the citizens of Galveston. Some called Isaac, who allowed there might be minor flooding; he advised merchants to raise their goods at least three feet off the ground. Many gathered at the beaches to watch the waves come in. Even as flood waters rolled over the island, submerging yards to the depth of 2-3 feet, children played happily and enjoyed the novelty of floating boats in their own backyards. By noon, the rain and wind had worsened, but survivors of the storm say for the most part they were not yet worried. Fear still lay ahead.

Over the afternoon, as the wind blew harder and harder, people began to seek refuge. Some of the first deaths occurred when a group of men continued their business luncheon in the popular Ritter's Cafe and Saloon. A gust of wind took off the roof, killing two men instantly and badly hurting five more. The waiter they sent for the doctor drowned.

Two trains were due into Galveston that afternoon. The first was stopped by washed-out track. Passengers transferred to a relief train, and took refuge on the second floor of the station after wading through waist-deep water. The second train was meant to cross to Galveston via a ferry boat, but the boat was unable to dock. The train began to back up, but was stalled on the track. Most people chose to stay with the train, believing it to be heavy enough to withstand even the worst kind of storm. Ten people struggled a quarter mile across a flooded plain to a nearby lighthouse, where they joined nearly 200 other people on the spiral stairs. The train refugees were the last to enter the lighthouse before the sea blocked the door. One of them, John Poe, saw the train begin to move again. He wondered at the time if he had made the right choice. He had: the train was found off the tracks after the storm passed, and all aboard were dead.

Isaac Cline's home was widely regarded as storm-proof. When he returned home the water in his yard was waist-deep; his wife and children had been joined by about fifty people from the surrounding neighborhood, including the contractor who built the house. Isaac and his brother Joseph argued about whether or not to evacuate the house or stay put. The wind was now ripping slate tiles off the roofs of nearby homes, turning them into dangerous projectiles. They decided to stay put.

Late that afternoon, as the storm neared, the wind direction changed. All day the wind had been pushing against the tide, keeping it in the bay. Now, the wind began to push the accumulated water back towards the doomed city.

At 6:30pm, the first floor of the Cline home was flooded to the depth of 8 inches. Looking outside, Isaac noted that the water which turned his family neighborhood into a fantastic water-scape was smooth, free of waves. This was because the broken wreckage of sea-front homes had made a kind of seawall nearly three stories high, that had held back the worst of the waves. This massive wall of smashed homes and their contents and their occupants was being pushed slowly ahead of the raging water. While Isaac watched, the water suddenly surged, rising four feet in seconds. All over Galveston people ran to their children in terror, trying to lift them about the swirling waters. Fortunate were those (like the Clines) who had a two-story house, and could retreat to the second floor. Those in single-story homes panicked. Judging based on his knowledge of his own home's position, Isaac estimated that the water was 15.2 deep in his neighborhood, and still rising.

Soon the water on the first floor of the Cline home was nine feet deep. Joseph was convinced the house would collapse; Isaac was sure it would stand. What neither of them knew was that the wall of debris was lurching inexorably towards them, pushing before it a segment of streetcar trestle a quarter-mile long. Observers all over the city saw one house after another collapse into the water. Isaac's wife, far along in a difficult pregnancy, lay in bed; his three daughters snuggled close to their mother for comfort. The fifty people had crowded into a bedroom on the windward side, hoping to be on top if the house were to fall over; the air in the room was insufferably hot and moist. The brothers argued with each other still, as Joseph tried to give the terrified people advice on how to survive once the house collapsed, and Isaac insisted the house would stand.

Imagine you are in your home, hoping to weather the storm: the house is shaking from the impact of shattered timbers and rooftops of other homes pushed by flood waters that are racing by and through the first story of your house. The wind is shrieking; rain spits in through holes in the roof and walls. Chunks of plaster fall from the ceiling and air-pockets in the wallpaper explodes. There is no light, or at best the wavering light of candles or little-used oil or kerosene lamps. Imagine you are a parent, and as the water rises and the house rattles slowly to bits around you, you look at your children. "Whom did you save? Did you seek to save one child, or try to save all, at the risk ultimately of saving none? Did you save a daughter or a son? The youngest or your firstborn? Did you save that sun-kissed child who gave you delight every morning, or the benighted adolescent who made your day a torment--save him because every piece of you screamed to save the sweet one? And if you saved none, what then? How did you go on?" (from Isaac's Storm, p. 181)

Elsewhere in Galveston, John Blagden staffed the Weather Bureau office alone in the dark. He was a new employee, and had been in the city just two weeks. He took measurements as the storm progressed. Outside instruments were stripped away in the high winds, but he recorded low barometric readings considered to be "impossible" at the time. At 7:30 pm, the storm began to pass the town, and the winds shifted again, this time from east to south. Windspeed increased and the change in direction brought even more of the accumulated wind-driven surge of waters to pour over the city. Later analysis of the storm suggested that Galveston was subjected to sustained winds of 150 mph with gusts of 200 mph or more.

Dr. Sam Young had spent the afternoon and evening alone in his home; his wife and children were away in San Antonio. He relished the opportunity to observe the storm in safety (he thought). As the storm worsened, he watched one after another of his neighbor's homes collapse into the waters and wash away. The wind began to tear his home apart, and he grabbed a door to serve as a raft. As his house shuddered and became buyount, he kicked away from the house and floated free in the storm surge. His raft came to rest on a mound of wreckage, where he spent the next 8 hours exposed to the worst the storm had to offer. He believed himself to be the only survivor of his entire neighborhood.

Back at the Cline's, something struck the house hard enough to knock it from it's foundation. As the house began to list to one side, Joseph grabbed two of his neices by their hands and hurled himself out through a nearby window, smashing through the glass and wooden shutters. He and the girls found themselves outside the house, now tiltled on its side and almost completely submerged. He believed all 50 occupants of the room they'd been in moments before, to be drowned beneath the sea.

Other families also found themselves out in the waters, as house after house dissolved under the combined force of wind and storm surge. The Credos (mom, dad, three girls, and a boy) initially planned to flee their home, but the water rose too quickly for that to be safe. They moved up to the second story and then the attic. The roof tore free and then slammed back down; Mrs. Credo sustained a head wound, but her husband bound it in the darkness. The house eased off its foundation and began to float. Mr. Credo ordered his family out the dormer window. The Goldmans, a neighboring family who had come to seek refuge in what they believed was a stronger house, refused to leave.

Mr. Credo told everyone to grab something and try to stay together in the water. Waves broke over them, hurling them apart. Time and again he herded them back together. A telegraph pole knocked young Raymond out cold; he bled severely. Mr. Credo worked hard to keep him afloat with his head above water. The family crawled onto an inverted roof, but it began to break apart. They moved onto a porch that floated by, which proved more stable and resiliant. Raymond remained unconscious. One of the girls, Vivian, was struck by a wave and knocked from the porch. She did not resurface. Another sister, Pearl, was badly injured when a spike of wood blew through her arm above her elbow. Again Mr. Credo doctored the wound as best he could, given the circumstances. The porch beached itself on a 12-foot pile of debris near an intact house. The family clambered inside: one daughter already gone, one son on the edge of death, another daughter at risk for infection and possibly amputaion, and mother with a bad head wound. It seemed awful, but the true extent of the family loss was unknown. Mr. Credo had adult daughters with families of their own, and a grown son who was away visiting his fiance.

One of the saddest stories from the Galveston Hurricane is that of St. Mary's Orphanage, located about three miles from the Cline home. Ten sisters and 93 children retreated from the waves, which by evening were crashing against the second story of the brick-and-stone ediface. The sisters herded the children away from the beachward side of the building, which was collapsing room by room into the sea. The mother superior ordered the sisters to tie themselves to the younger children with lengths of clothesline: each sister took six to eight children, leaving only the oldest boys free. The sisters led the children in singing hymns, to keep them calm as the storm increased its wrath. The led the children further and further into the building, but always the sea followed. The boys dorm and chapel were gone, and the orphans huddled in the last building, the girls dorm. The last building failed, and they were all swept away. All ten sisters and 90 of the 93 children died. Only three of the oldest boys, unencumbered by clothesline-tied bodies, survived; all three caught hold of the same floating tree. After the storm passed, the nuns and children were found, still tied together, on the beach buried in sand. The lines meant to save them had doomed them, tangling in submerged wreckage and drowning whole chains together.

Isaac Cline was in the center of the room when the trestle struck the house, sitting near his wife and six-year-old daughter, Esther. A wall fell on him, and he was trapped underwater. He could not move or breath, and felt sure he was going to die. He relaxed and accepted his fate, only to be driven to the surface of the water and pummeled with bullet-like rain. He was stuck between two large timbers, and coughing water. He was also alone.

He searched the waters for someone, anyone. He flailed in the water, hoping to feel something soft, but found only timbers, planks, and other sharp-edged debris. Then he spotted a child. It was his youngest daughter, Esther. He swam towards her, caught her arm, and soon they saw Joseph and his other two daughters in a flash of lightning. The group of five climbed over wreckage and fended off hulking, floating houses and strange adults who (at one point) tried to push the children off the floating debris. Their raft ran aground about four blocks from their former address. Isaac considered himself fortunate to have his brother and three daughters with him, even though one of the girls had a severe injury. He was also heartbroken, certain his pregnant wife had drowned. Later, he would discover that only eighteen of the more than fifty people in his home had survived the storm. His wife was not among the survivors. Her body was finally unearthed on Sept 30th, identifiable by the wedding ring and engagement ring Issac had given Cora. Unlike most of the dead at this point, Cora was claimed and buried in the Lakeview Cemetary a few days later. Isaac believed that even in death Cora had travelled with them and protected them; her body was found very close to where their raft had come to rest.

It is impossible for most people to imagine the gory scene of Galveston at dawn the following morning. Consider that Manhattanites suffered the stench of death for months following 9/11, yet the dead numbered less than 2,000, and many of those were incinerated and/or buried under tons of rubble. The Galveston dead numbered between six and eight thousand, and they were out in the open or only barely covered by widely scattered debris. The odor of putrefaction was already overpowering on the first day after the storm, and reached out over the sea and land in stinking tendrils of decay.

As the first outsiders began to reach the Galveston area, what struck them all was the sheer number of dead bodies lying everywhere. The condition of the bodies were terrible: they were battered and bruised, and often stripped naked from the forces of the wind and water. Those approaching by water had to push floating bodies out of the way in order to pass. Although some attempts were made to collect the dead in a morgue, the stench and sheer numbers soon made it an untenable proposition. They tried to bury some bodies at sea, because they could not dig enough graves. It was not done correctly, and the bodies washed back into Galveston on the next tide. The volume of decaying flesh would become a health hazard soon. Pyres were set and bodies were burned en masse where they were found.

The town itself was in ruins; it was nearly unrecognizable in places. Racial disharmony came to a head, as black men were conscripted at gunpoint to deal with corpses, and newspapers reported lurid stories of blacks looting dead bodies as they worked. The temperatures did not abate, and the town was clouded with a fog of putrefaction and human ash.

Help arrived: the Army (with food and shelter), Clara Barton (with disinfectants), and a veritable tidal wave of monetary donations from cities across the U.S. (channeled through the Red Cross). Barton had expected to find many orphans, but most of the children who survived did so only with the help of adults -- orphans were few and far between.

The storm blew north and then back east over the whole of North America. Although it lost the peak of its fury, it claimed a few more lives. The U.S. Weather Bureau went to work to absolve themselves of any guilt for their complete failure to accurately predict the Galveston Hurricane.

Galveston rebuilt, and this time they built a wall seventeen feet high that stood behind an advance barrier of boulders twenty-seven feet in length. Some two thousand buildings were lifted in to the air, and eleven million pounds of fill raised the height of the entire city. The citizens threw their heart and soul into recreating the boom town, but the arrival of the hurrican coincided with the discovery of oil. Houston won the city vs. city rivalry by a landslide, and Galveston became nothing more than a beach-town suburb with all the sorrows of modern urban life.



  • est. 6,000 - 8,000 dead in Galveston (pop. 38,000)
  • est. 10,000 left homeless
  • 1/3 of city swept into the sea

Contributing Effects

  • Weather Bureau in-fighting
  • General ignorance of tropical storms
  • Hubris of turn-of-the-century America
  • Unusual weather conditions in the Gulf of Mexico ("The Loop")


  • Isaac's Storm (Erik Larson)
  • PBS Special (can't find title?? based on Isaac's Storm)
  • http://www.1900storm.com/
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Gromit head
Apr. 22nd, 2005 @ 03:27 pm The Great London Fire of 1666
Someone else brought this to my attention, who I'm sure will take credit for it, when it's time.

All the links herein come from www.channel4.com, a british site with a plethora of information. This is definitely going in the "We Remember" Section.

In 1666 a fire blazed through London. It started on Pudding Lane and spread far and wide, consuming everything in it's path. The fire raged for four days and four nights, consuming city landmarks like St. Paul's Cathedral and Guildhall, before gunpowder blasts finally halted the fire's progress. After the fire, more the 13,000 homes and 87 churches had burnt to the ground. Amazingly though, there were only 5 recorded deaths due to the fire.

Though the fire cost London upwards of £10,000,000 at a time when the city's annual income was around £12,000, a number of good things came out of it. King Charles II, who's father, King Charles I, had inspired an uprising of civil war among the city during his reign, showed his loyalty to his citizens, and personally oversaw the quick and efficient rebuilding of the city. London, which had formerly been built mostly of thatch and wood, was rebuilt in stone, and was able to do some slight redesign of the city to better accomodate the city. New awareness of the dangers of fire eventually inspired better fire safety codes. The fire also helped slow the spread of the Plague by killing or driving off large numbers of the rats that carried the plague-ridden fleas.

Information was gotten from this amazing site that even includes a flash map that shows the spread of the fire. I didn't truly grasp how large the fire was until I watch the fire spread demonstration. It also includes links to a ton of information of the subject, and names of books to read about it.
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Green Candle
Apr. 20th, 2005 @ 11:11 am Coconut Grove Fire
One of the great tragedies of Boston was the November 28, 1942, Coconut Grove fire. The Piedmont Street club in the Bay Village neighborhood was filled with people, some on military leave, others celebrating the Holy Cross romping of Boston College, and still others enjoying a night out on the town.
The fire claimed the lives of 492 people and injured 166, making it the worst nightclub fire disaster in history. It could have been even worse. The club exceeded its 600-person capacity, with around 1000 people inside.
the rest of the storyCollapse )

BPHC.org <--- includes pictures
Boston Fire Dept <--- includes pictures
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Apr. 19th, 2005 @ 09:14 pm The Hartford Circus Fire
Okay, so this will be my first real contribution to this community.

I think I'll start with what's been holding my interest lately.

The Hartford Circus Fire of 1944.

To set the scene...Collapse )

They called it the Day the Clowns Cried.

On July 6, 1944 the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily Circus came to Hartford, Connecticut. They'd performed there before, and it was a favorite city of theirs. The day seems to have been unremarkable. Just another midsummer day in a war-torn world.

The circus was performing under a big top. As usual for the time, the big top had be waterproofed by a mixture of parafin and gasoline. There were safer chemicals at that time, but the government controlled them because of the war. On one site I read that the circus had petitioned the military for these chemicles and/or fireproofing chemicles, but were refused. Whether or not they actually approached the government, these things just weren't available for them to use.

That day a crowd estimated between 6,000 to 10,000 were in attendance. About 20 minutes into the act, while the Great Walledas were performing, a few people of the circus noticed the fire. One of the first was the band leader, who signaled the band to play Stars and Stripes Forever, which was apparantly a code that the circus used to signal that something was seriously wrong. Soon the flames were too great to be ignored, and the crowd started to panic. First, they stampeded the entrance they'd all come through, but that was the side of the tent that was engulfed. Circus workers tried to direct people to the performers entrance, but many people were too panicked to listen, or were impeded by the large animal chutes. (Chutes that led from animal cages to the three rings.) Finally some people, the first of whom being a 13-year-old boy, started slashing open the canvass and hundreds of people were able to get out that. During all this hot chunks of parafin and burning canvass were raining down on people.

Reports vary as to how many actually died in the fire that day. They range anywhere from 160 to 169. Most seem to settle on 168. Probably the reason for that is that an unknown number of bodies were burnt so completely because of the parafin and gasoline that they were essentially cremated, and only pieces were recovered. According to Wikipedia, official estimates of the injured ran to over 700 people, most of whom were horribly scarred or burnt. It's amazing to me that out of probably 8,000 people there that day, so many got out of it uninjured and alive. Ironically, some people who were trampled and buried in panicked people survived the fire, because they were trapped under so many people that the fire didn't reach them.

Let me take a moment to say that this is one of the things that affected me the most about this tragedy. Can you imagine, being trampled and have people falling on you and sufficating you, and hearing and feeling them burning and dying, while you can do nothing but lay there? That's one of the worst possible things that I can think of.


Most of the victims of this fire wre women and children. Most men were out at war, or working hard to support their families and/or the country. It was during the week, so mostly it was mothers and children there. There are accounts of soldies on leave who were in the audience. A sailor in particular is said to have slugged a woman to get her out of his way. There are also reports of wounded veterans and their nurses who were there that day. But the overwhelming majority of those in attendance were woman and children. It is said that less than 100 or those killed were over the age of 15.

The Hartford Circus Fire leaves us with several mysteries. First is how the fire started. On the record, they say a cigarette was carelessly tossed. However, eyewitness accounts say that the fire started in the middle of the canvass, not the bottom, otherwise circus personnel could have put it out. Someone even admitted to starting the fire, then recanted. Second, there were several bodies that were so badly burned that they could not be identified, but there was one that wasn't burned at all. Her death had been caused by a blow to the head or trampling. She was in almost perfect condition, yet no one ever claimed her. She was dubbed Little Miss 1565 and buried with the five other unknown. Later a Hartford Chief Fire Inspector became convinced that she was Eleanor Cook and she was reburied next to other members of the cook family. However, there is a lot of doubt whether or not this was true, because at the time of her death, various family members were unable to positively identify the body, and her mother denied that it was her.

One good thing that came out of this tragedy was that the safer chemicles were made available to the public. From what I've read, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily Circus took full responsibility and since then have not performed under a big top.

A couple of books are continually mentioned on the subject of the Hartford Fire. One was The Circus Fire by Stewart O'Nan. Another was A Matter of Degree by Don Massey and Rick Davey. The most famous clown from that fire, Weary Willie, was played by Emmett Kelly, Sr. He's often credited as a hero of that day. In his autobiography, Clown he talks about the Hartford Fire.

I will be adding this site to the section above. It's a little hard to wade through because of the colors used on the site, but he is thourough as far as summary and details and talks about heroes and villians of the day. It's a good site to go to for more in-depth information.

This is just a summary post. If anyone has experiences or details or feelings they'd like to add about this event, please feel free to post them. I want to learn more about what happened that day.
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