Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Eastland


Eastland Disaster Rescue Efforts, 1915
The steamer Eastland, immediately after loading an excursion of Western Electric employees for Michigan City, Indiana, capsized into the Chicago River on July 24, 1915, killing a reported 844 people—the worst disaster in loss of life in the city's history. The ship as built in 1903 was stable but did not meet specifications in speed and draft. Modifications in 1904 to correct those problems created a chronic problem of top-heaviness. The Eastland nearly capsized on July 17, 1904.

The Titanic disaster had produced a worldwide movement to increase the boat and raft capacity of ships relative to licensed passenger capacity. Owners who bought the Eastland in 1914 after the ship's service on Lake Erie did not inquire into its history. On July 2, 1915, they modified it with additional lifeboats and life rafts on its top deck. The ship capsized on the first occasion when it was loaded to its new licensed capacity.

Hilton, George W. Eastland: Legacy of the Titanic. 1995.