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Was the 1915 sinking of the Eastland on the Chicago River caused by bad weather? – WGN-TV

by: Tom Skilling

Posted: / Updated:

ASK TOM 2021 01

Dear Tom,

I just heard about the sinking of the Eastland on the Chicago River. Was it caused by bad weather?

—Joy C., Hawthorn Woods

Dear Joy,

The tragic sinking of the Eastland was not weather- related. It was more than a century ago when the fully-loaded passenger ship, the Eastland, scheduled to take employees of Western Electric Co. on a holiday trip to Michigan City, capsized in the Chicago River between LaSalle and Clark streets on July 24, 1915. The capsizing resulted in mass casualties with 844 people drowning. It was caused by uneven weight distribution on the overloaded ship. Chicago weather historian Frank Wachowski checked the archives and reported that the day was cloudy and on the cool side for mid-July, with a high of 73 and a low of 66. There were scattered showers and a few thunderstorms throughout the day, with rain otaling 0.12”.


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