First Known Eastland Disaster Film Footage


By Wendy Laursen 2015-02-10 17:03:46

Two 100-year-old film clips of the SS Eastland disaster in Chicago have been unearthed. 

Believed to be the first known clips of the disaster, they were found by U.S. University of Illinois graduate student, Jeff Nichols, reports The Chicago Tribune.

Early on the morning of July 24, 1915, the lake steamer Eastland cast off from its mooring along the Chicago River with 2,572 Western Electric Company employees and their families on board. It was to have been a pleasant Lake Michigan cruise and picnic, but instead it turned into Chicago’s worst single disaster with 844 people, mostly women and children, killed.

The ship was top-heavy, both by design and by subsequent modification, and as the passengers moved to the port side to watch other vessels departing, it rolled, trapping passengers on the lower decks.

At the time of the tragedy, the ship was not ballasted, making it more at risk of rolling. 

The clips are taken from Dutch news reels, mixed in with unrelated material.

The first clip shows first responders, and the second shows the Eastland being righted.

The last known survivor of the disaster, 102-year-old Marion Eichholz, died in November last year.

The film clips can be seen here.