OCTOBER 2017

OCTOBER  2017
.The Eternal American Battle - Humans V Money

Translate

Amazon Contextual Product Ads

Monday, October 23, 2017

LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING

I have noticed that in all things, drama attracts drama -  which as often confuses as it sheds light. Forty miles east of Coeur de'Alene, Idaho, there is proof of this. Through fissures opened by dramatic continental collisions over a billion years ago, water percolated up through sedimentary rocks. And where it pooled and cooled it left behind veins of silver, lead, and zinc. Then 190 million years ago this shattered wreckage was struck again, theatrically folding forested ridges upward until they broke, then shoving the amputated segments atop their own abandoned limbs, stacking the veins haphazardly through the new mountains. Fifty million years ago erosion found the weak points in the fault lines, opening the land to ambition and greed and human drama.
Burke Canyon Creek, like a hundred other streams in the panhandle of Idaho, divides two of these ridges. To the southeast the 6,000 foot high twin Grouse Peaks are separate by a mile from the 6,000 foot high Tiger Peak to the northwest. Between them, at just 2,500 feet above sea level, snakes the 300 foot wide “Silver Valley”.  Burke Canyon is so narrow, in the winter the bottom receives only two hours of sunlight. Shopkeepers had to close their awnings when the narrow gauge trains carried out the ore down the center of the canyon. The dead had to be carried out the same way, since there was no space to bury them in the canyon.
 But by 1891, the 11 mile long, constricted, twisting valley was dotted with one-street towns and the 100 mines they served; The Bunker Hill, The Burke, The Star-Morning, The Standard-Mammoth, the Hercules, The Gem, The Poorman Tigar, The Union, The Sunshine, the Frisco, The Tamarack.and The Hecla were the biggest.
In less than a hundred years humans would extract from this dramatic landscape $5.5 billion worth of metal, including 37,00 metric tons of silver – half of all silver mined in the United States - 8 million tons of lead, and 3 million tons of zinc These were no paper profits. This was production,  rare metals pried from the earth. But the handful of owners who risked their capital to exploit this bonanza, and the 3,500 hard-rock miners who risked their lives a mile and more beneath this canyon for $3.50 a day, were all digging their own graves.
In the fall of 1891 the railroads which transported the ore once it was out of Burke Canyon, announced they were raising their rates $2 a ton. The Mine Owners Association, which effectively owned the canyon, responded by shutting down production. Three thousand miners were laid off, and untold store clerks, cooks, maids and laundresses lost their incomes as well. The standoff continued until the following April of 1892, when a compromise was reached and the mines announced they would reopen. But because of increased overhead the mines would rehire only 2,000 men, would add six hours to an already six day workweek, and for the 500 hundred unskilled miners, there would be a pay cut of fifty cents a day.
The workers at each mine formed unions, and were unified in their demand - $3.50 a day for all workers, skilled and unskilled. The Owners Association refused, and in June began advertising for replacement workers. Soon, every train which arrived in Wallace, Idaho, at the foot of the canyon, carried miners (“scabs”) from Michigan and Wisconsin. Union miners took to greeting the new arrivals with fists and clubs. The Owners hired Pinkerton “guards” to protect the replacement workers. Tensions increased, threats increased, violence increased. Two of the mines reopened with union miners, and two, the Gem and the Frisco, reopened with non-union miners.
When the sun rose over the narrow canyon on Monday, 11 July, 1892, the hills overlooking the Gem were covered with armed union men. At first light, the shooting began. After several hours of unproductive gunfire, the miners switched to more familiar weapons. A black powder bomb exploded a building (above) housing one of the stamps which broke up the ore before shipment. After a little more shooting the company men surrendered. The human cost was three dead. 
The union men marched their prisoners across the narrow street to saloons in the town of Gem, while company men still on mine property began sniping at them. Women and children ran for their lives, fleeing either up or down the canyon. Fifty more company men arrived and surrounded the saloons where their men were held. Three more men were killed, this time union men, and eventually, the union men surrendered in their turn.
Meanwhile, shooting had also begun at the Frisco mine, and three more company men had been killed. Yet another surrender prevented further loss of life. The sheriff and Federal Marshals escorted these company men down the canyon to Wallace. Pro-union forces now occupied both mines and had captured 2,000 rounds of ammunition, to boot. All of this had isolated the largest mine further up the canyon, the Bunker Hill, in tiny Burke, Idaho.
On day two of the “Burke Canyon War”, Federal troops arrived in Cataldo, twenty miles to the west, but the union men threatened to blow up the mines if they moved any closer. That left the company men in the closed Bunker Hill Mine cut off from support, heavily outnumbered and out gunned. The company men walked out without putting up any further fight.  All non-union mines in the Silver Valley were now shut down. It was only a matter of time before all would be forced to sign union contracts. It looked like the Union had won. And then somebody did something really dramatic, and really stupid.
It happened in Cataldo, where the narrow gauge railroad met the head of navigation for the Cour d'Alene River. There had once been a Mission nearby, and as daylight began to fade that Tuesday evening, 130 company men from the Gem and Frisco mines were gathered on the dock, waiting for a boat to allow them to escape this insanity. They had already been shot at and some had even been blasted. Then, out of the shadows, men now appeared on horseback and started shooting into the unarmed crowd. Panicked men began running in every direction, some even jumping into the lake. It does not appear that anyone was actually killed in this shadowed fusillade, but it was claimed that 17 were wounded. It was labeled “The Mission Massacre”, and most public sympathy for the union cause died right there.
On Wednesday, 13 July, 1891, Idaho Governor Wiley placed the entire county under martial law. A thousand state milita appeared, followed by a small but vocal army of reporters. Before the week was out 400 union men were under arrest. So backed up would the courts become, that it would be a year before some of prisoners would have their chance to defend themselves. Very few would be found innocent. Many served years in prison. All union men were forced out of the mines, and the Owners Association reigned triumphant. The Wallace Free Press summed up what was lost, when it noted, “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword, is an old proverb, and labor is not trained in that school.”
Eight years later they all did it again. This time the Bunker Hill mine was blown up. But again the owners won. Six years later the two sides went at it again,  and then Governor - Frank Steunenburg - called out National Guard troops. This time,  he boasted, “We have taken the monster by the throat, and we are going to choke the life out of it.” Union men responded by blowing up the governor. It took the skills of lawyer Clarence Darrow to keep the union man convicted of the Governor's murder, out of the electric chair . But the tit for tat never really ended, which helped ensure that by 1920 the 5,000 non-union miners in Silver Valley were the highest paid workers in the state.  They had to be, to get them to stay. 
But almost unnoticed at first, the real cost of all this drama began to surface. Around 1900 farmers downstream began complaining that the spring floods on the Coeur d'Alene River had poisoned their fields and killed their livestock. By the 1930's the south fork of the Coeur d'Alene river had become a dead zone. People drinking from the river became sick, even losing their hair. The farmers sued the mine owners, but the courts, already used to crush the union, now crushed the farmers. Still, there was so much lead in the Burke Canyon Creek, the miners began calling it “Lead Creek”. After the World Wars the price of silver began to fall. The mines began to close. And as they did, their political power began to wane.
In May of 1972,  91 miners died in a fire in the Sunshine Mine. And this time the disaster brought in the new Environmental Protection Agency. And what they found, scared them. In  Burke Canyon Creek between Burke and Wallace they could find no fish. By measurement, the water carried 550 pounds of zinc every day into the Coeur d'Alene River – so much that when the stream pooled, the water was yellow . Twenty miles of streams in surrounding areas could support no fish, and 10 miles of tributaries of the Coeur d”Alene River had “virtually no life” in them. In those waters outside of Silver Canyon, lead and zinc levels were fifty times the federal safe water quality standard. How had it spread so far outside the canyon?  
Every day each mine had been dumping between 40 and 60 tons of lead into the air. Rain settled this poison into the  Coeur d'Alene river, and had contaminated Lake Coeur d'Alene, which had contaminated 160 miles of the Spokane River, which flowed out of the lake. Water fowl were dying each year in thousands, 21 bird species were at risk of local extinction. And human children living in the valley had the highest levels of lead in their blood ever seen - in the world.
The result was the 21 square mile Bunker Hill Superfund Site. When this cleanup is finally finished (if ever), it could cost taxpayers $1.4 billion – or just about 20% of the value of the ore removed from the “silver canyon” over the last century, to enrich a few mine owners. In 1996, after twenty years of cleanup effort, EPA scientists put healthy trout in water from the Burke Canyon Creek. All were dead in four hours. Today, if you take a drive up Silver Canyon, you will pass the abandoned mine buildings, surrounded by chain link fences. Those fences were erected by the EPA, to protect curious tourists dieing from curiosity.
- 30 -

Sunday, October 22, 2017

HONOR AMONG THIEVES

I want to give Captain Limantour (above) the benefit of the doubt. He might have been a thief, but theft is the corner stone of California history. The Spanish stole the place from the natives, the French stole it from the Spanish, and in 1821 the Mexicans stole it from the French. So after the American armed robbery of 1848, M. Limantour should have fit right in with the Yankee power elites. Yes, he was argumentative, crude and vulgar. He spoke his native French clumsily, and managed just enough Spanish and English to curse and insult his competitors and even his partners. And he did try to steal most of the city of San Francisco. However, many of his harshest critics were bigger thieves than he was.
Captain Joseph-Yves Limantour. arrived at the Golden Gate on 26 October, 1841. For the previous decade the 28 year old had lived hand to mouth aboard his 232 ton brig the “Ayucucho”, trading along the Pacific coast. But on his first visit to San Francisco Bay, he wrecked his ship in the fog. Suddenly bereft of his only source of income, he dragged her salvageable cargo onto the sand spit that now bears his name – Limantour Beach (above)  – and opened a store in the nearby village of Yerba Buena. 
The problem was that Yerba Buena, in fact everybody in California, was cash poor. So the Captain was still stuck there in December when a traveling merchant advised Captain Limantour that if he could “obtain a grant of land on the Bay of San Francisco, he would one day be as rich as a prince.” Limantour liked that idea.
A year later, Limantour engineered a swap of goods and services that got him a new ship, in which he returned down the coast. Stopping to do a little trading in Los Angeles he ran into the Mexican Governor of California, José Micheltorena. The flat broke Governor of  the flat broke Mexican state of California was happy to trade a heavily inflated $4,000 worth of real goods for a grant of empty land south of Yerba Buena, and one including all the empty islands inside and outside of the bay, and a third land grant for empty land around the beach where the “Ayucucho” had run aground. These grants were finalized on 27 February, 1843. But Captain Limantour was too busy with his shipping operations to exercise his dry land property rights. Or so he later said.
In 1848 $2 billion worth of gold was discovered in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Over the next four years, Yerba Buena became San Francisco and the population mushroomed from 1,000 to 50,000, all the while suffering six major fires, assorted earthquakes, a few epidemics and uncountable bank failures. 
About the only way to go broke in San Francisco during the gold rush was to be a miner. Levi Strauss made a fortune overcharging for pants. John Studebaker made a fortune profiteering on wheel barrows. 
Henry Wells and William Fargo made a fortune gouging their banking customers. And the original “robber barons”, Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins and Charles Crocker each made fortunes foreclosing on miners in debt. San Francisco was a thievery boom town. And in the midst of this capitalistic orgy, on 2 January 1853, the three man United States Land Commission began ruling on the validity of grants made under Spanish and Mexican rule.
Back in Mexico City, Captain Limantour had found a bright young Frenchman working at one of his investments, a would-be inventor named Auguste Jouan. In 1850 Limantour dispatched Jouan to San Francisco (above)  to begin title searches on "his" properties. 
And just a month after the Commission commenced hearings in 1853, Limantour filed a claim to 17,800 acres of San Francisco, just about everything south  from “California Street”, including “The Mission district”...   
Nob Hill,  The Tenderloin,  the Sunset district,  and everything south, half way to Monterrey Bay - about $33 million worth of real estate. Referring to Joseph now as “Jose' ”,   one mocking newspaper snorted, “Can’t he also find...some papers that will permit him to establish claims to Vancouver Island?” Vancouver, Canada, that is.
In 1854, while the commission was considering Limantour's claim, and when The Captain arrived back in town,  Auguste Jouan started asking for his back pay.  Limantour kept putting him off.  Jouan finally got angry enough to quit, and started hinting in public that his ex-boss was a crook. According to Limantour,  Jouan's gossip had created “such animosity and furor...that my life and property were in danger”. Belatedly the Captain agreed to pay Jouan what he was owed, tossing in a $25,000. bonus.  However, Limantour insisted they return to Mexico to close the deal, away from prying American reporters. The trusting blackmailer returned to Mexico with Limantour and was immediately arrested for forgery and attempted murder.
In January of 1856, to great public surprise, the Land Commission validated Limantour's claims. San Francisco went into panic mode. 
Half the banks in town, half the newspapers, half the bars, churches, hotels, bawdy houses and private residences, City Hall, and...
most importantly, all the mansions on Nob Hill, were now officially owned by Joseph-Yves Limantour.  The new land lord tried to put his victims- ah, tenants – at ease. 
From his suite of rooms in the Washington Hotel, the Captain offered to provide quit claims to all property for just 10% of the listed value. It became instantly known as the “Limantour Tax”. 
Many paid the tax,  just to be rid of the troublesome Frenchman. Estimates of his “take” ranged  from $100,000 to $250,000, in 1855 dollars. And then, Auguste Jouan managed to escape from his Mexican jail, and reappeared in San Francisco, still looking for his bonus. He now accused his ex-employer of framing him, and offered to provide proof that Limantour had committed fraud, for an additional $30,000.
A pro-Limantour paper called Jouan “a rascal of the worst kind....he attempted to extort money by means of threats, or a pretended knowledge of secrets, which is not calculated to modify our opinion of this blackleg.” Jouan responded by hitting the paper with a million dollar libel suit. Observed another editor, “For all we know he may be justly entitled to it; but we doubt whether there is an editor in San Francisco who has that amount of loose change about him...” Evidently, somebody paid at least part of Jouan's price. In April, the inventor sailed quietly for New York, claiming he was going to exploit his patent for new paddle blades for steam ships.
Meanwhile, the thieves of San Francisco funded an investigation of M. Limantour's documents, and came up with enough inconsistencies to justify a Grand Jury. And the local U.S. Attorney filed suit in Federal Court (above, left) to the overturn the Land Commission's decision. No thieving lawyer works harder or is more effective than a thieving lawyer protecting his own “ill gotten booty”. The only problem was, for every allegation or witness who swore the obnoxious captain was a thief, there were others who swore he was not. It did not matter. The Grand Jury indicted “Jose' “Joseph-Yves Limantour for fraud and perjury, and he was promptly arrested. The captain posted $35, 000 bail, and headed back to Mexico,  swearing to return with more evidence.
When Limantour did return in July of 1857, one surprised reporter noted a vigilantly committee had threatened to lynch him. The captain replied, in French, “I should rather be hanged than to pass for a forger.” His self assurance, and his new witnesses and documents had the local thieving class nervous. The government's case was flimsy at best. The locals might provide a conviction, but an appeal would be heard in the big pond back east in Washington, where the local thieves were small fry. And then, the new U.S. Attorney General, Jeremiah Black, decided to provide $70,000 to fund the prosecution of   “the most stupendous fraud ever perpetrated since the beginning of the world.”. Barely pausing after that hyperbole, he dispatched a special prosecutor to take over the case, Edwin M, Stanton.
Stanton (above) arrived in San Francisco in March of 1858, just about the time a new box of Mexican records which cast more doubt on Limantour's claim was found. It was almost as if the prosecution had decided to play by the same rules they assumed Limantour was playing by. But the prosecution also managed to produce close up daguerreotypes taken of the document daguerreotypes introduced to support Limantour's claims.  Blowing up the images clearly showed the forgery errors. The signatures of the Mexican officials were real. But the seals applied to them were fakes. 
 Stanton made a three hour closing argument, filled with hyperbole. Limantour's lawyer gave no closing argument at all. He must have already suspected his client had cut his losses, taken his own ill gotten booty, jumped bail and returned to Mexico.
Back in San Francisco, on 19 November, 1858, Federal District Judge Ogden Hoffman, Jr.'s (above)  56 page judgment, admitted “The case...is extraordinary and surprising...astonishing if not incredible”, before claiming a “scandalous conspiracy”, adding the vast over-statement, “the proofs of fraud are as conclusive and irresistible as the attempted fraud itself has been flagrant and audacious.” Limantour was convicted, but never jailed, and never pursued. Better gone and quickly forgotten.
Edwin Stanton went back to Washington, where in 1861 he was appointed Secretary of War in the administration of Abraham Lincoln. He was eventually named a Supreme Court Justice, but died before taking his seat. The wealthy thieves of San Francisco added to their wealth, in particular the Big Four, Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins and Crocker, doubled or tripled their wealth by duping shareholders in the Southern Pacific, the western leg of the Transcontinental Railroad. 
Joseph-Yves Limantour left California with somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000 in gold, which made him one of the lesser robber barons of San Francisco (above). The government even failed to collect from the bail bondsman, after the Captain's escape.  The public ended up footing the bill for the prosecution, and then shared few of  the fruits of the victory.  
Joseph-Yves first born son,  Jose' Yves Limantour (above),   added greatly to his father's fortune. But after the Captain's death in 1885, and his mother Adele's  death,  her will left the fortune to his younger son Julio. Jose's took the blow in stride, and went on to become Secretary of Finance of Mexico. However, in 1911 this son-of-a- thief was forced to leave Mexico, and died in a self imposed exile in Paris, in 1935. The Limantours had come full circle.  And there is honor in that.
- 30-

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A VERY, VERY BAD IDEA


I don’t suppose there is any way of knowing exactly when the idea was born, but at some point in early 1881 it occurred to New York City actress Miss Jennie Rhett that she needed to stand out from the chorus. My guess is that she read a newspaper story about two young women who had recently fallen off an excursion barge into the East River. And from that chance news story, and from her own ambition, the actress hatched a very bad idea. Miss Rhett searched amongst the piers of the lower east side of Manhattan until she found the young swimmer who had saved the two women. He was handsome, smart and just as ambitious as she was, and Irish too. And that was when I suspect that this idea took its very first steps to reality.
Some time later Miss Rhett was discovered off Coney Island Beach near the new Iron Pier (above), floundering in the sea. Just in the nick of time a tough young Irishman pulled her to safety. Later, in front of a small crowd and a reporter, Miss Rhett presented the young man with a “gold locket” in gratitude for his bravery.  The reporter did not think to ask what a young Irishman from the Bowery was doing swimming at Coney Island.  In any case, it was a small news story. And sadly it does not seemed to have propelled Miss Jennie Rhett to the stardom she sought. After this publicity stunt she disappears from our story.  But the young Irishman had learned an important lesson, and we will hear from him again.
New York City in the 1880’s was the kind of place where any idea seemed possible, even fame and fortune for those surviving on their wits in the Bowery or "Hell’s Kitchen".  And even very bad ideas. The twin towers of the Brooklyn Bridge, begun in 1870 and nearing completion, were the highest structures in New York City.  But as tall as they were, they still seemed human in size.
Standing at the foot of the Brooklyn tower it is still possible to feel the audacity of a world, still powered largely by horses and humans, which had dared to make the 5,989 foot long unsupported throw across the open expanse of the East River. So it was not surprisingly that the next step in the evolution in this very, very bad idea should leap into some lunatic’s mind even before the great bridge had been completed.
One night in 1882 a young man was detained by bridge employees on the unfinished center span of the Brooklyn Bridge. He was in the process of undressing. Eager not to be seen as a common pervert, the young man identified himself as “Professor” Robert Emmet Odlum, from Washington, D.C.; a self described well known and well named swimming instructor and author of pamphlets on diving.
"Professor" Odlum told the police he had made a $200 bet that he could safely dive from the unfinished bridge. After explaining to Mr. Odlum that he could not hope to survive the 175 foot drop, the “Professor’s” mother was notified and he was put on a train back to Washington. The New York City police made a note to never admit Mr. Udlum onto the bridge again, even after it opened in May of 1883. It was at this point in the evolution of the very, very bad idea that chance intervened, in the form of a love-sick 22 year old woman in far off Bristol, England.
On May 8, 1885 Miss Sara Ann Henley received a note from her boyfriend breaking off their engagement. In a fit of pique Miss Henley walked half way across the Clifton Suspension Bridge (above), high above the Avon River Gorge, and threw herself off.  As she plummeted the 245 feet toward oblivion her crinolines petticoats caught the air like a parachute and slowed her descent. She was even more fortunate when she splashed down into shallow waters along the shore, where her landing was softened by thick forgiving mud. She was badly injured, but she lived. Her extraordinary survival made all of the English papers, and was picked up and republished extensively in America.
A week after Miss Henley’s great fall the New York police got word that ‘Professor’ Odlum had been inspired to give the Brooklyn bridge another “go”. They alerted the toll collectors, and on Sunday afternoon, 19 May, 1885 (ten days after Miss Henley’s plunge) a collector reported a suspicious cab lingering on the bridge. Police officers found it parked against the railing, half way across the span. But it was a decoy. While they were searching the cab, hidden within one of a pair of "vans" further back on the bridge, "Professor" Odlum clambered out from beneath the covered flatbed wearing a swimsuit emblazoned with his name. He clambered over the railing and before the cops could reach him, threw himself into space.
Imagine the "Professor's" surprise when he discovered that the cops had been right. He entered the water feet first (as was the accepted diving position at the time) and shattered every bone in his frame from heel to skull. He was pulled from the river unconscious and died a half hour later. His friends shipped his body home. Ten days later Robert’s sister came to town,  demanding that the coroner explain what had become of her brother’s liver and heart. She never got a satisfactory answer, but my guess is they had both been reduced to jelly by the impact. A little math shows that “Professor” Odlum hit the water going sixty-three and a half miles an hour. At that speed water is almost as fluid as cold concrete. But it was Robert Odlum’s tragic foolishness that was the catalyst for the return of the Irish hero to our story.
He was 23 years old by this time, making his living as a newsboy and a bookie amongst the denizens of the Bowery. Like a certain actress he had worked with, Steve Brodie now needed to escape the chorus; except in his case the chorus was a cacophony of poverty. The story that he later told police was that a friend, James Brennan, had dared him on a $100 bet that he would not jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. But I doubt that Mr. Brennan had ever seen $100 in his life.
Steve Brodie claimed to have made the leap on Friday morning, 23 July, 1886. Mr. Brennan claimed to have witnessed the jump. There was even a sworn affidavit from a barge captain who had pulled the daredevil from the river. Septics said Brennan had thrown a dummy off the bridge while Brodie had swum out from shore, but it didn't matter if the story was true or not. Overnight, daredevil or spinner of tall tales, everyone in New York City knew the name of Steve Brodie, the man who jumped from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Brodie parleyed his 15 minutes of fame into his own bar, with a little theatre in the rear where he re-enacted his alleged dramatic plunge into the East River several times a week for the tourists. In 1891 promoters built a Broadway melodrama (“Mad Money”) around his dive,  and another musical in 1894, (“On the Bowery”).
And on the wall next to a painting of his fabulous plunge, was displayed the following homely, “Cursing and swearing don’t make you any tougher in the eyes of people that hears you. Steve Brodie".  Of course, Steve's success at selling the idea, did not make it any better of an idea.
In 1895 Mrs. Clara McArthur, married to a disabled railroad worker and mother of a young daughter, jumped off the bridge at 3:30 in the morning. She was seeking a share of Steve Brodies’ pot of gold for her destitute family. The desperate Clara was wrapped in an American flag. She had water-wings strapped under her arms and a punching bag tied to her back to keep her afloat after landing. Her socks were filled with sand to keep her feet below her head (again, the accepted, best attitude to enter the water).
But Clara landed on her side, spreading the impact over the length of her entire body. That is what saved her life. The shock ripped the water wings under her arms to shreds. She struggled to the surface, but the punching bag kept flipping her over onto her face, and the socks kept pulling her down. After struggling for several long seconds, Clara finally passed out, face down in the water. Two men in a rowboat waiting under the bridge finally managed to pull her to safety. She never made a dime from the effort, even though she had several reliable witnesses that she had actually made the jump. The Victorian public simply didn't want to know the details of a woman forced to risk her life to provide for her family. Clara McArthur is one of only ten people (two of them women) known to have actually jumped off the bridge since the 1881, and who survived the plunge.
Steve Brodie is not counted as one of those ten. He was always an agreeable fellow. If he had money, his friends and family shared in it. He gave generously to charity his entire life. But it is extremely doubtful that he actually made the jump. He tried to extend his fame by claiming to have leaped off a railroad bridge in upstate New York, and later claiming to have gone over Niagara Falls wrapped in inner tubes and metal bumpers. The Niagara stunt, real or not, almost killed him. He settled in Buffalo, New York, and operated a bar there for a few years before his asthma forced him to move to San Antonio, Texas, where he died in 1901 of complications of diabetes. Steve Brodie was all of 38 years old. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, in Woodside, Queens, New York. Thankfully the very, very bad idea of jumping from the bridge for fame and fortune died with him.
The longest living survivor of all these daredevils was the accidental one. Sara Ann Henley (below), the woman who tried to commit suicide in 1885 by jumping 240 feet off the Clifton Suspension bridge, finally earned her angel’s wings in 1948. She was 84 years old, married, but with no children, perhaps because of injuries sustained in her fall into the Avon River Gorge. Such silly feats, for fame or to protest fortune, are never good ideas. But jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge went further. It was a very, very bad idea.
- 30 -

Blog Archive

Amazon Deals