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1938: Disaster over Niagara Falls

The Story

In a cloud of snow and ice, the great bridge that crossed the Niagara River has collapsed upon itself. Now, all that remains of the Honeymoon Bridge are tangled cable lines, crushed wooden beams and twisted metal. Under the weight of an enormous amount of ice, the bridge's beams gave way and fell into the freezing water below. In this on-the-scene report, CBC Radio captures the spectacle of the disaster as hundreds of tourists look on in shock.

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: Jan. 27, 1938
Reporter: John Kannawin
Duration: 4:30
Photo: National Archives of Canada: 1966-094

Did You know?

• A warm wind pushed floes out of Lake Erie down the Niagara River, causing an ice jam. On Jan. 25, 1938, the accumulation crushed the Maid of the Mist docks. The massive ice buildup also crashed the generators at the Ontario Power Generating plant.

• There were no injuries or deaths in the collapse because traffic had been halted in the morning due to the icy conditions. Rumours spread that the bridge could not withstand the weight of the ice and was expected to fall. Curious onlookers came to the area, waiting and watching for the bridge to crash.

• When spring arrived and the ice melted, the wreckage of the bridge sank to the bottom of the Falls.

• The Honeymoon Bridge was also known as the Falls View Bridge.

• A new bridge was constructed in 1940. As a safety precaution, the bridge's girders were placed considerably higher over the level of the Niagara River.

Also on January 27:
1858: Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa to be Canada's capital. Quebec City, Montreal, Kingston and Toronto had also been in the running. But Ottawa got the nod because its location away from the U.S. border made it safe from possible enemy attack.

2002: PanCanadian Energy agrees to purchase Alberta Energy for over $6 billion, forming Canada's largest energy company - a natural gas producer - to be called EnCana.


Other Natural Disasters more