1904 Flood

A 36-foot record-breaker for the time

Escape from the Santa Fe depot

[nggallery id=74]  Click on the first image to read captions

Marooned in the Depot
Express and Depot Force Spent Thirty-six Hours Without Food
A Rope Ladder to the Lower Floor
Brought Off in Boat This Morning

From The Ottawa Evening Herald, May 31, 1904

August 2005

The Santa Fe depot force was penned up from Sunday evening until the morning without food other than a few onion and radishes taken from the express office. The crowd included Harry Keckler, Will Baxter, Chris Hester, John Holmes, Frank Fleming and J.S. Yancey, the latter a lineman.

The force was at work all Sunday night and yesterday morning preparing for the flood by elevating the contents of the building. Agent Campbell, Operator Cook and Carl Moore were taken from the depot yesterday morning about ten o’clock, and lodged at the homes of friends on the north side. The other boys offered the boatman as high as five dollars apiece to return and take them off, but the current was so swift the boatman would not risk it, and the depot crowd resigned itself to a long and hungry vigil. The water ran to a man’s shoulders in the ticket office, and the current was so swift that a man could not stand in it. The doors to the south waiting room gave away before the flood and the current swept through unrestrained. The occupants went to the upstairs rooms. Five hogs from the Marsh House were carried over to the depot, and were placed on an express truck where they remained until this morning. All the baggage and express was elevated on the trucks, out of the way of the water. During the afternoon Harry Keckler went down into the express office and went to sleep on a truck. His companions became alarmed at his absence, and the rumor was shouted across to the Marsh house that Keckler had disappeared. Later in the evening a rope was rigged up from an upstairs window and Chris Hester climbed down to the express office, where Keckler was found, sleeping peacefully. This improvised ladder was used during the night to convey what few eatables the express office offered to the rooms above.

 Relief Expedition Failed

 Late last night, when a telephone inquiry had developed the fact that the occupants of the depot were alive but hungry, Scott Hester got a boat and undertook to reach the building with provisions. Between the park and the depot the current ran so swift that the boat was compelled to turn back. This morning, John Sullivan launched a boat at the Marsh house and conveyed a supply of provisions across at the imminent risk of being upset in the current. The depot crowd dropped a wire from the roof of the platform shed, and so drew the provisions up. A little later Scott Hester succeeded in reaching the place with a boat and a supply of provisions. A little later one of the Yaringtons reached the depot and brought the refugees away one at a time. The trip was made from the south side almost across from the Hall of Philosophy (a Chautauqua building in Forest Park, along the river), around the north side of the Marsh house. The party at the passenger depot say they saw the freight depot force swim out to the freight cars up in the yards, and so make their escape. This party included Homer and Elmer Goddard, Claud Hamilton and James King.

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