: 1877 engineering drawing of the Ashtabula Bridge, built by the Cleveland and Erie Railroad Company in 1863. This drawing shows the bridge, designed by Amasa Stone, that was involved with the infamous Ashtabula Train Disaster of 1876.
On December 29, 1876, a Howe truss bridge near Ashtabula, Ohio, collapsed while a train with three passenger cars was crossing it. The train and its passengers plunged sixty feet into a ravine and creek, and the lamps and stoves used to light and heat the train cars quickly ignited the wreckage. Ninety-two people died either in the accident or as a result of their injuries, and more than sixty of the surviving passengers were injured. Railroad accidents were commonplace during the late nineteenth century, due in part to tracks built quickly and cheaply by companies hoping to make tremendous profits. Railroad companies built thousands of miles of track in Ohio during the late nineteenth century, providing more opportunity for accidents to occur.
Even after the Ashtabula Bridge collapse, the Howe truss bridge remained popular, primarily due to its relatively cheap cost. Still, railroad companies began to feel pressure from their customers to provide a safer means of travel. By 1888, more than two thousand iron bridges existed in Ohio. The state had fewer than nine hundred wooden bridges still in use at this time. View on Ohio Memory.
: OVS4265_ashtabulabridge Subjects
: Bridges--Ohio; Railroads--Buildings and structures; Ohio Economy--Architecture and Engineering; Railroad accidents; Places
: Ashtabula (Ohio); Ashtabula County (Ohio);