The Collapse of the Bathouse Runway (Lawrence, MA)

bath1June 30, 1913 was the date of a preventable tragedy in the City of Lawrence. Bathouse number 1 was located on a “runway” wharf on the north side of the Merrimack River. It was close to the dam and other bathouses.

It was opening day and scores of boys from all around were poised to jump into the water. At 2:00 PM just as the crowd were ready to start the summer the runway collapsed. There was immediate panic of struggling children. The rescue began immediately by passersby jumping in to save the victims. Henry Hinchcliffe aged 16 was awarded the Carnegie Medal for Bravery. Lyman Parker and Charles Patterson crossed the river from the Lawrence Canoe Club on the opposite shore and proceeded to dvie into the water to help. John Keefe and Police Sargent Timothy J. O’Brien assisted with resuscitation and first aid.

By sunset the crowd at the river bank knew that both survivors and victims had be recovered. The names of the dead are as follows:

Secundo Allegbro, 10 years

William Bolster, 10 years

Jospeh Belanger, 8 years

John Cote, 8 years

Ronaldo Gaudette, 10 years

Joseph Hennessey, 15 years

Roland JOnes, 9 Years

Joseph McCann, 15 years

Flower Pinta, 11 years

William Thornton, 10 years

Michael Woitena, 14 years

The City closed down the bathouses shortly thereafter. Families of the dead were compensated $100 each to defray funeral expenses. The inquest into the fatalities found teh accident was due to insufficiency of the railing under the weight of the boys.

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