Everett Mitchell had just gotten off the elevated train on the north side of the Chicago River, across from the South Water Street Market where he had so recently picked up produce for Schultz's store, when he found himself in the thick of the chaos following the sinking of the Eastland excursion boat. The boat had moments before overturned, throwing hundreds of people into the main channel of the Chicago River and trapping hundreds more below deck.
...frantically hurling chicken crates....
"I saw what appeared to be four or five hundred people struggling in the water, many of them obviously unable to swim. Mothers were trying desperately to keep their small children from drowning. People on the riverbank were screaming in terror," Mitchell recalled. "I could see the commission of men of the South Water Street Market, many of whom I recognized, frantically hurling chicken crates as far out into the water as they could. People were clutching the crates and managing to stay afloat that way. How I wished I had been on the south side of the river, where I could have helped! I knew exactly where those crates were kept. But my way to the nearest bridge was already blocked by the panic-striken crowds."
Everett was never able to forget the tragedy.
Photograph courtesy of Wheaton College (IL) Special Collections.
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