Damage in ESL

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THE DAMAGE IN EAST ST. LOUIS

 

In its path across the Mississippi the tornado did not even spare the Eads Bridge, that monument to the engineering skill of one of the greatest men of the age.

The whole top abutment of the first pier, as well as the big rocks and iron, girders of the approach, were picked up and thrown upon the roadbed just behind a passenger train. In front, two baggage cars were picked up and placed across the tracks. The top or upper roadway was torn down and thrown upon the train, as well as four wagons loaded with merchandise.

A sudden stop was made, and although the cars careened the passengers escaped through the wreckage and were taken care of. All the way down the approach, every pole, signal wire and apron was torn away, and in many places piled on the tracks.

The hydraulic switch works shared the fate of all, and the pipes were scattered here and there along the approach and Broadway. The escape of the trains was remarkable.

Nearly half of East St. Louis was wrecked. More than 100 people were killed and more than two million dollars of damage wrought on the east bank of the river. The damage was done in a few minutes time, and how any person in the path of the cyclone escaped is a. mystery to all who passed over the devastated section. The wind struck the levee just north of the East St. Louis elevator, about 5:30. The wharf of the Wiggins Ferry was the first to suffer, and it was thrown far up on the levee.

Eye-witnesses on the island graphically describe the approach of the destructive storm. Two of these men passed through the big cyclone of March 8, 1871, just twenty-five years ago, and they say the appearance of the clouds, the sky, etc., was similar to that of the former big wind. It struck the shore it exactly the same spot and passed up to town in the same way, never deviating more than fifty feet in either direction from start to finish. The cloud resembled an inverted funnel, and appeared to have the well-known and generally recognized rotary motion. When nearing the shore it seemingly divided and spread out, covering about 200 yards of a swath.

The scene from the east end of the Eads bridge resembled that of a battle-field. The dead and dying were removed from the ruins by willing workers, and the burning mills and warehouses lighted their funeral pyres with a distinctness that added horror to the awful scene. Lists of the dead were examined carefully to find some trace of relatives. At temporary police headquarters a special detail of policemen was appointed to keep the anxious inquirers out of the station. The officers stood about appalled by the devastation of the storm, and were unable to contribute anything to the record of the dead and injured. Hundreds of persons, however, told of the storm king's fury, and thanked God in the most devout manner that they had been spared to do so.

 

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