News of the collapse of Austin dam

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News of the collapse of Austin dam - vol. xxrs AUSTIN. TEXAS. WEDNESDAY. APRIL i...
vol. xxrs AUSTIN. TEXAS. WEDNESDAY. APRIL i AUSTIN'S GREAT LOSS OF LIFE AND PROPERTY THE GREAT DAM GOES DOWN BEFORE THE RAGING TORRENTS OF THE COLORADO. ELEVEN LIVES KNOWN TO BE LOST Millions of Dollars Worth of Property Laid in Waste and the Entire County Tributary to the River Under Water Full Par-ticulars of the Deplorable Affair. FRANK PINGET, FRANK KENNEDY. WALTER FLOWER, WALTER JOHNSON, ALFRED JOHNSON, FRANK FITZGERALD, WALTER BLOSSOM, JOE NEWMAN, DICK MORRIS (Colored), JOHN PROES AND CHAS. BURCHARD. The above represents the list of dead resultant from the flood, which, yesterday, laid In waste the Colorado river valley, and caused such disaster to the Austin dam and power house. So appalling has been this catastrophe that the people of the city did not seem to fully appreciate it yesterday. The wild excitement of the moment, the raging waters, the broken dam and the flooded power house, the inundated lands to the south and west of the city, the immense crowd of sight-seerers and the general commotion all served to hide the true condition of affairs in that the awe-inspiring spectacle overshadowed everything else. Those who hastened to the dam yesterday morning saw a sight that man will never again have an opportunity of witnessing, or if $o the occasions will be so seldom that it will be as noteworthy as the accident of yesterday. The river began rising with wonderful rapidity after daylight yesterday morning, and was pouring over the dam to the depth of fully twenty fee when the crash came, and the great chunk slid out of the middle of the dam, releasing the immense volume of water. What happened after that is told below in the detailed report. What is going to come as a result of yesterday's accident remains to be seen. The conditions confronting Austin this morning are. serious. So serious that every one must consider the situation as it presents itself. Austin today has no water for fire protection, no lights for street or household or business use, no power for street cars, and greater than all no water for sewerage. All these facts stare one in the face and present a condition of affairs that needs serious consideration and prompt action. Yesterday Chief Stumpf of the fire department wired to Houston and Waco for fire engines to be used temporarily, and the request was promptly granted, and wire sent that the engines would be shipped here at once. In the meantime he had all the cisterns on the Avenue filled out of the water remaining in the big mains in the city. In one or two instances he was fortunate enough to secure enough water from the gutters, which were still running from the heavy rain of Friday night, to fill one or two cisterns to the brim. These cisterns will answer for fire protection with the assistance of the fire engines and protect in a measure the business portion of the city. The sanitation question is one, however, that can not be confronted in any such a manner. For that reason all possible precaution should be taken to protect lavatories during the water famine so that there can be no possible chance of creating any feeding ground for disease. The excitement of yesterday naturally sets at defiance any correct calculations as to when the damage can be repaired and how. At first glance the situation at the dam is so grave that no prediction can be hazarded as to ce-sults. The old ater company is under water, and while they .think they win be able to furnish water and lights to their patrons within three or four days, but they can not give that assurance positively. As soon as matters quiet down the proper officials will take steps looking to getting themselves out of their troubles as rapidly as possible, but in the meantime the hearty co-operation of the entire city is needed to keep down any conflagration and prevent any abuse of the sanitation condition that now confronts the city. The sight presented on the river banks yesterday was awe-inspiring and thrilling. It was like a great battle, however, in that disaster and loss of life follows in its wake. The grand spectacular has been witnessed, and it is to be hoped that the worst is over, but the future confronting us is most serious. As the result of a flood that has never been paralleled save by the Johnstown disaster, Austin, the capital city of Texas, yesterday lost $1,400,000 worth of municpal property, the lower portion of the city is inundated, fully 100 houses alons the river have been swept away, ten lives are known to have been lost by the noon hour yesterday and reports from up and down the river report the drowning of thirty-two persons. The flood is one without a parallel in the history of the state, exceeding in point of danger and in sectional losses the great Brazos bottom flood of last spring. It began raining on the watersheds of the Colorado river as far north as the Concho river, some 125 miles north of here, on Wednesday night, and never ceased until yesterday morning. From midnight until daylight yesterdav morning so terrific was the downpour that creeks were transformed into pursing torrents and rivers were swollen to a width of a mile within the hour. It is estimated that within an hour yesterday morning 4 Inches of ram fell in this immediate vicinity. By daylght it became evident that the situation was serious. The river began rising three feet an hour, and by 10 o'clock it had increased to four feet. The situation at the city's power station above the city became serious from the very first. The immense dam spanning the river 1200 feet long and sixty feet high, with the power house and three-quarters of a million worth of machinery located alongside, was threatened from the very first. The water rose so rapidly that it soon became evident that the power house would be inundated within an hour. The surging torrent bore on its crest tons and tons of trees, houses a nd debris by the wagon load. All this im-. mense mass piled up on the crest of the dam very rapidly, forming a solid mass twenty feet high and 1000 feet thick, over which the water surged and fretted before taking its sixty foot plunge over the crest. So terrific was the strain that it was evident that the dam must give way. At 11:15 exactly the crash came, and a slice of granite eight feet thick, twenty-five feet in depth and 500 hundred feet long rolled out of the middle of the dam and into the river below as though it had been prize! out with a crowbar. This released the immense quantity of debris, trees and houses and the vast volume of water, and within a thrice it was "bellowing on its way down the river, tarrying death and destruction in its wake. The river prior to this break was swollen from bank to bank, and was three-quarters of a mile wide. The increased volume of water wrecked everything before it. Hundreds of people who had gathered on the river bank below the dam to view the surging mass had to flee for their lives, and hundreds of them narrowly escaped Instant death. Just below the dam were located eight families of poor people, numbering some five or six In each family, who camped and fished Tor their livelihood. ATI of these dis appeared with the breaking of the dam and have not been heard of since. Eight men standing on the edge of the river when the dam broke were caught and swept into the torrent, but were rescued a quarter of a mile down the river, more dead than alive. In addition to this list there were eight of the employes caught in the power house and drowned like so many rats in a hole. The power house and all its contents were flooded with water, and the sweeping away of the dam means one and a half million dollars loss to the city government In addition to this great loss, the city is without either water for fire protection or lights for business houses or private residences. The old water company's plant, locat- Rain or Shine, The station agent is on duty. On his exact communication of train orders depends thousands of lives, and millions of dollars in property, each day. In his baste he runs out in the rain or the snow batless and unprotected. Then comes toe sequel bronchitis, or some other disease of the respiratory' organs. The most effective remedy for bronchial or rrulmonarv diarase Is Doctor Pierce's Golden M-dical Discovery. Almost all remedies pre- cnoea lor such diseases contain opium or some narcotic which oothes by stupefaction. "Golden Medical Discovery " contains neither narcotics nor alcohol. It tops coughs by curing their cause. It heals weak lungs, builds up wasted tissues, and promotes the health of every organ of the body. 1 'I a i nilmi Mat writs L B. uptas, X.. of Barclay, Onn Caaaty. Ksaa, "sad fear year ago m7 work keeping me la a atria room d stcpaiaf oat fraqamdy into tk cotaarr bbt me bnachttk. waJea baisi 14 a mm wmm eamue and darp-aeatea. ooMors U4 to faach tbj case sad adrfaed ax to try bicker air, bat, (ortaoeteW tor ma. a Maad adrtoed me Id try Dr. Pierce's medtriaaa. I eeaamaacerf aklag year "Golden Medical Dawmrv.' sad ay the tune I bad taken the am bottle I was artier, aad after talioc foar bottle my coach vat entirely gone. 1 have foand so aacaaatty lar aeekfaif another climate." Dr. Pierce' Pleasant Pellets regulate ti stomach, liver and bowtU. ed further down the river, whlcn was all right up to the breaking of the dam was immediately engulfed by the surging torrent and is now under fifteen feet of water, thus cuting off the water supply through their mains. The electric light part of their plant, which was located higher up on the bank, escaped and they are able to furnish lights but that is all. It is not known what their loss will be. While this represents the municipal and corporate losses here the loss to private individuals will De great. With the breaking of the dam the immense volume of water swept down the river and poured out into the valley below, sweeping houses over like they were ten pins. So sudden was this additional precipitation of thirty feet of water that no one had an opportunity to do ought save save their own lives People fled from their oomes, leaving vehicles, clothing and everything behind Dozens of negroes living on the south side of the town in the valley failed to get away ail were 3wept wW th5 nver with thtir little cabins. Within twenty minutes the liver immediately opposite the town was sixty feet deep and nearly a mile wide. Both the immense railroad and wagon bridges spanning the river were in momentary danger of being swept away. One man erasing the valley south of the wagon bridge was caught by the raging torrents. His buggy and horse were swept away and he himself was landed on top of a telephone post. He swung on there for awhile but the waters soon undei-mlned the post and it gave way and as it fell the man was seen to go t.nder and never come up again. Six negroes were drowned just opposite the city. Reports from below town along the river valley is that the waters have engulfed everything, and houses, livestock and human lives hive been forfeited. No accurate reports can be secured, however, as the excitement Is so intense that no names can be obtained. The loss in the mountain regions above here is equ'e.ily as great, judging from the number of houses and housethold furniture that has drifted by all day. The flood came in t$e nature of a water spout, and up to last night the full result of Its dlsastaroua coining has not been fully reported it is ft-ar-ed not half reported. The flood has done serious damage to railroad property also and caused the wrecking of the cannon ball express from St. Louis on the International and Great Northern nine miles north of this city at 4 o'clock yesterday morning. Just below the small station of McNeill the eavy rain had washed out a small bridge and inundated the track to the depth of four feet. In trying to cross this swag the cannon ball plunged Into rhe dead fall ditching the engine, the mail car, the baggage car, two passenger coaches and one sleeper. The cars turned half over on their sides and lay in about four feet of water. Owing to the fact that the train had lessened its speed considerably, due to the bad condition of the track and the further fact that there were comparatively few passengers on board there wera no lives lost and only three persons irjured, all being employes. Oral Davis of San Antonio, mail clerk, was badly injured by being caught under the racks in Ms car, but it is not thought fatally. Engineer P. F. Maynaham cf San Antonio and Fireman C. M. Stanley were both caught under their engine and rather badly bruised up. The Austin and Northwestern road, operating to the west of here, operated no trains at all yesterday as the result of five bridges having ben washed away during the nignt. The storm is the most terrific that ever visited this section. Yesterday shortly after the noon hour the Montopolis bridge gave way before the wildly dashing waters, and was swept from its moorings, several of the piliars going down also. The bridge at the foot of the avenue apparently stood the strain pretty well, though it had a pretty close call during the afternoon by a house drifting against it which threatened to form a drift pile in short order, but fortunately the dashing water broke the rid, and the house passed on down the river. The International and Great Northern bridge for a time seemed in danger, and at one time it looked as though it would be necessary to run a freight across the bridge to hold it down, but this, was finally found unnecessary. The southbound International and Great Northern train, due here at 1 yesterday morning, came in at noon via Elgin, and was detained at the depot here until after 3 o'clock, as it was feared that it could not be sent south over the bridge. At that hour, however, a test was made and the bridge was found to be strong, and the train was sent out.. All trains, both north and south, on this road yesterday had to be handled via the Houston and Texas Central to Elgin, thence over the Katy to Taylor, where the International and Great Northern tracks were again used. It is believed that the International and Great Northern track w:il be open for traffic by today, however. The excitement In the city yesterday was intense, and thousands of people did nothing all day long but run from the dam to town and back to the dam, thence to the avenue bridge to see the river. Those who didn't do this spent their time at the telephones, and as a result the telephone exchange had the biggest day's business in their history, answering thousands upon thousands of calls during the day. The hack drivers did the business of their lire, and every public vehicle that could stand on four wheels and had a horse to pull it was pressed into service to carry people out to the dam. The breaking down of the power house and the cutting off of the power for the street cars forced everybody to take vehicles, and those who could not secure them walked out to the dam It was a case of get there by hook or crook, run or walk. When It became known down town yesterday that the dam had broken hundreds of people rushed down to the avenue bridge to see the surging mass. Many with that imprudence marking the excited crowd rushed onto the avenue bridge and along the banks until It became necessary to throw out life lines and force the crowd b?.ek from the dangerous banks. Out at the dam parties were equally as imprudent, and at the time the dam broke dozens of people were on the embankment below it, and many of them narrowly escaped with their lives. In addition to the list of dead published at the head of this report there were two ladles and a young girl reported to have been swept away at the dam when it broke, but their names could not be learned during the day. At least a dozen persons testified that they had seen them swept away in the raging torrents. It is thought possibly they were visitors here and one clue was that the ladies were here visiting a girl inmate of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum who was the daughter of one of the ladles. This could not be verified, however. Several men werei swept Into the raging torrent by beinff too near the bank when the dam broke, but they all managed to make their escape, among the number being Neill Begley and John Pope, both of whom were dripping wet when they were finally landed on safe ground. Jim Kirk was in the McDonald boat house when that building was swept away and, he only saved himself by grabbing a rope and drawing himself to the land J. M. Brown, a printer, was standing below the dam at the time of the break and he only made a landing by a scratch, , being up to his waste in water whan rescued. Fritz Kretseh-mar was another who had a narrow escape. The report was current that seven University students had been drowned, but this report was found to be false, having originated in some men who were standing noar the river on an embankment falling in. They were all rescued, however, without loss of life. The saddest feature confronting the entire situation is that existing at the power house, where the bodies of seven men are floating In the wheel pits of the power house amidst tons and tons of debris, and they can not be recovered. They were caught In the pits like rats In a trap and drowned before they could be rescued. The crowd 'outside heard them give one shrill scream of terror as the water rushed in upon them, and then all was silent save for the rushing water. It must have been a horrible death, and all who heard that cry will never forget it. Jim Wliklns and Frank Pin-pleton, who were In the pits at the time with the other men, made miraculous escapes, through thei holes in the floor where the big shaft belts go through. The water gushed into the power house and soon covered everything below, the pumps rising about a foot in the pumping room. All the turbins and the various shaftings and the like In the pits, however, are under water, with tons of debris swirling around them, and it la safe to say that most of them will be ruined. When the water broke through the dam and gushed Into the power house, water was forced through the air pipes In the headgate masonry like it was being shot from a fire nozzlo, rising to a height of fully fifty fee, so terrific was the force behind it. . C v going all of of to as H Work house and of the noted, two condition, they dangerous they if in case The to an as to that carry cave opinion was west the 100 break current which foundation the house, reason naturally weight it is The yesterday water, have entirely terrific T!ie the thousands, 'hat and

Clipped from
  1. Austin American-Statesman,
  2. 11 Apr 1900, Wed,
  3. Page 1

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