Titantic May Have Helped Cause A Tragic Shipwreck 2 Years After Its Own Sinking
One horrible maritime tragedy had connections to another that occurred shortly thereafter
The Titanic is the most famous shipwreck in history. The glamorous passenger liner sank after striking an iceberg, with more than 1,500 of its passengers losing their lives. Despite slipping under the waves to a deep and watery grave in 1912, the doomed vessel may have actually contributed to another famous wreck several years later than resulted in an additional 844 deaths.
The ship that may very likely have been victimized by the Titanic was the SS Eastland. It was a large passenger ship based out of Chicago that was also occasionally used to host tours of the local waterways. On July 24, 1915, while sitting in dock on the Chicago River, it rolled over and capsized, taking 844 travelers and crew with it to their doom.
Embarking on its maiden voyage in 1903, the Eastland had problems right off the bat. In July of that year, it hit a tugboat named the George W. Gardner while docked. Although the larger ship suffered minor damage, the tugboat went to the bottom. Later in August, the Eastland captain had six of his crewmen arrested at gunpoint after they refused to work, claiming they had not received an allotted amount of potatoes as part of their rations. Although the men were officially charged with mutiny, the captain was also replaced soon after.
The Eastland also had intermittent problems with listing. While loading and unloading passengers and cargo, there were ongoing issues with instability that caused the vessel to dangerously lean from side to side. Despite making modifications and adjusting capacity, the problem wasn’t fixed, as close calls kept popping up.
On the fateful day of July 24th, 1915, the Eastland was one of five Great Lakes passenger ships chartered to ferry Western Electric employees to a company picnic in Michigan City, Indiana. More than 7,000 tickets between the fleet had been sold to take the group on the 38 mile trip. For many workers, this event was the most significant travel they may have ever undertaken, given the expense and limited options of transportation at the time.