Disaster Photos

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Bridge Photo Looking South
Bridge Photo Looking South

The Ashtabula Bridge in service.

Bridge Workers
Bridge Workers

Workers standing on top of the bridge in victory that the bridge is finally finished.

The Collapes
The Collapes

Painting depicting what the collapse might have looked like.

Cleanup after Disaster 1
Cleanup after Disaster 1

This photo was taken by J.M. Greene. Even though Fred Blakeslee was the first person to photograph the wreck, a few other photographers rushed to the scene to take photos to create stereo pictures that were used in the stereo views, which were quite the rage of the day.

Cleanup after Disaster 2
Cleanup after Disaster 2

This photo was taken by J.M. Greene. Even though Fred Blakeslee was the first person to photograph the wreck, a few other photographers rushed to the scene to take photos to create stereo pictures that were used in the stereo views, which were quite the rage of the day.

Cleanup after Disaster 3
Cleanup after Disaster 3

A man sits as he sifts through the wreckage of the disaster. It was a grizzly task to search through the wreckage to recover bodies, body parts and personal property to return to loved ones or help identify those who were on the train.

Cleanup after Disaster 4
Cleanup after Disaster 4

A ladder placed by on one of the abutments was used to get a better view or the disaster scene or possibly take a photo as people search through the wreckage.

Cleanup after Disaster 5
Cleanup after Disaster 5

Two horses are being used to help clear the debris from the disaster site.

The Disaster From A Distance
The Disaster From A Distance
Looking East Down on the Wreckage
Looking East Down on the Wreckage

From on top of the west abutment, where the Socrates locomotive sat after escaping disaster, we looking down on the wreckage.

Looking West
Looking West

From the east abutment looking west you can see the staircase, which led down to the pump house. Many victims were carried up this staircase to safety the night of the disaster.

The Columbia Engine is Wrecked
The Columbia Engine is Wrecked

Looking west down on the wreckage you can see the "Columbia" engine laying on its side, smashed after its seventy foot fall.

The Wreck
The Wreck

The clean up of this wreck was done very quickly. Iron was very expensive, so all the iron of the bridge was salvaged and remelted to be used to make other products. Notice more fake people have been burned into the photo on top of the abutment to make the photo more interesting to look at.

The Clean Up
The Clean Up

In the distance you can see people on the hill near the abutment looking at the wreck. Believe it or not, these are not real people, but an old PhotoShop style technique. Photographers used a technique in the darkroom called "burning," where they would use a stencil with people cutouts and light to overexpose areas of the picture to make the photo more interesting to look at.

The Clean Up
The Clean Up

This is the clearest and cleanest photo of the wreck we have. This photo was used to help identify the "Miller Couplers" that were used to hook the train cars together. However, we do believe the car which was hooked to the tender of the Columbia engine was a link and pin style. This couple was recovered during an excavation of the site where the Columbia crashed in Sept. of 2014.

The Socrates Engine
The Socrates Engine

The Socrates was the only engine to make it to the other side before the crash. Dan McGuire, the engineer, gave his engine full power when he felt the bridge beginning to give way under him. He luckily made it to the other side. As he turned he he watched in horror as the Columbia and other cars fell into the gorge. Notice the drive rod to the wheel is off and the tender is off the tracks.

Close up of the Wreck
Close up of the Wreck

The smoking wreck.

The Wreck At Dawn
The Wreck At Dawn

Once again you can see fake people have been added to the background of this photo using a stencil and "burn" technique to help make the photo more interesting. Notice the total destruction of the wreck caused by the fire.

The Columbia Engine
The Columbia Engine

The Columbia Engine on its side, smashed through the ice of the river. It's amazing "Paps" Folsum, the engineer survived the fall.

The Columbia Recoved
The Columbia Recoved

Believe it or not the Columbia Engine was salvaged, repaired and placed back into service. This is a photo of the 35 ton Columbia, set upright and getting ready to be pulled up the hill out of the gorge. It is interesting to note the Columbia was decorated and came back to Ashtabula for the dedication of the obelisk at the grave of the unrecognized dead on the 20th anniversary of the disaster.

The Smoking Wreck
The Smoking Wreck

Notice the total destruction of the fire. Nothing that was wood remains.

Replacement Bridge
Replacement Bridge

This is a photo of the Replacement Bridge, built under the supervision of Charles Collins shortly after the disaster. It was placed in service Jan. 18th, 1877 just twenty days after the disaster.

Replacement Bridge
Replacement Bridge

This is a closeup photo taken during the construction of the replacement bridge built under the supervision of Charles Collins after the disaster. Notice the wood falsework supporting it during construction.