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SS Eastland in 1915

SS Eastland in 1915

The SS Eastland was a passenger ship based in Chicago and used for tours. It was one of three ships that were chartered to take employees of the Western Electric Hawthorne Works to a company picnic in Michigan City, Indiana. The passengers included 220 Czech immigrants with new jobs in America working for the Cicero plant. On 24 July 1915 the ship rolled over while tied to a dock in the Chicago River. A total of 844 passengers and crew were killed in what was to become the largest loss of life disaster from a single shipwreck on the Great Lakes. One Chicago legend who was supposed to be on board that day was George Halas, future owner of the Chicago Bears but he was late getting to the pier and saw the disaster in progress. An official investigation of the disaster was supervised by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis of Ottawa, Illinois who later was hired to become the first Commissioner of Baseball by Charles Comiskey after the Black Sox scandal of 1919. Ironically, safety regulations imposed after the Titanic disaster of 1912 that required more life boats might have made the already top heavy Eastland more unstable and prone to the roll over when too many passengers put their weight on one side of the ship.

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