Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The General Slocum disaster

112 years ago, on June 15, 1904, the General Slocum steamboat caught fire and sank in the East River, becoming the worst maritime disaster in New York City's history. I was unaware of this tragedy until I happened across a "Virtual Cemetery" for it on Find-a-Grave, created by Judi Braddick. 

The boat had been chartered to carry members of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church to a church picnic. A spark or flame ignited some straw and then other flammable material. That and much of what followed has been considered criminal negligence by many students of the event. Eight people were indicted concerning the fire and tragedy, but only the captain was convicted. It is estimated that 1021 people died (of 1342 on board). The last survivor of the General Slocum disaster died at the age of 100 in January of 2004.

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