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Boxing Fans Take the Plunge at Saltair
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In 1895 Utahns Wondered When Statehood Would Come
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Clarence E. Allen Was Utah's First Congressman
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Salt Lake Native Was Interred in the Kremlin Wall
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A Brewer-Sportsman's Prairie Style Home in Ogden
Saltair
Saltair Village Was a Unique Place to Live
Boxing Fans Take the Plunge at Saltair
Castilla Hot Springs Attracted Many Visitors
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A Soldier's Life at Fort Douglas in the Early 1900's
Methodist Women Missionaries Worked Hard in Utah
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The Salt Industry Was One of the First Enterprises
From Free Salt to a Major Industry
Hospitals and Health Crazes in the Late 1800's
The Myths and Legends of Butch Cassidy
Butch Cassidy
Would the New State of Utah Go Metric?
A Look at Working Women in the Early 20th Century
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The Lucin Cutoff
Southern Utah's First High School
Life Was Precarious in Turn-of-the-Century Utah
Salt Lake City Had Its Typhoid Mary
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Promoting Physical Fitness
Woman's Home Association Tried to Help the "Fallen"
Juvenile Delinquency Posed Problems For Utahns
Traveling Gypsies Brought an Exotic Lifestyle to Utah
The First Large Factory in Utah
The Rise and Fall of Ogden's Packing Industry
Newsboys Claimed Their Street Corners in Downtown
The Bamberger Electric Railway
The First Cars in Two Small Towns
A Bicyclist Challenges the Great Salt Lake Desert
Daredevils of the Sky-Early Aeronauts in Utah
Ogden Defeats Salt Lake City in a War of the Wheels
Utah's Immigrants at the Turn of the Century
Boys' Potato Growing Clubs
Joe Hill and the I.W.W.
Socialist Women and Joe Hill
A Bit of Polynesia Remains
Justice Zane and Antipolygamy
The Salt Lake Valley Smelter War

Yvette D. Ison
History Blazer, February 1995

For some fans, boxing was not the only excitement at Saltair on the evening of May 12, 1910. As the match between Pete Sullivan and "Cyclone" Johnny Thompson came to an end at 11 o'clock, several hundred of the 3,000 fans rushed to the exit to catch the next train from the famous resort to the city. The overanxious would have done better to wait. Due to the weight of so many people heading to the train station from the Saltair coliseum, a poorly constructed, temporary stairway collapsed. Nearly 100 people fell, fully dressed, into the salty waters of the Great Salt Lake.

Though the water came up only to their armpits, none were prepared for the sudden plunge. More dangerous than the cold water were the flying timbers of the broken stairway which caused bruises and even broke bones. Rescue teams quickly arrived to pull people out of the water with ropes and shovels. Within five minutes most of the victims had been recovered and were drying on land. Those seriously injured, some ten people, were put on the first train to Salt Lake City. The rest had to wait their turn for another train to take them home.

Meanwhile, rumors quickly spread throughout the city. From the first trainload of "survivors" to return home, residents heard an exaggerated account of the event. One story circulated that the stairway had been destroyed by rowdy fans angered by the defeat of Sullivan. Others thought that the entire Saltair resort was sinking into the lake and that thousands of people were dead and dying. Concerned family members and friends waited for their loved ones at the train station late into the night.

When reactions to the event finally settled the next morning, newspapers came out with a statement from the manager of Saltair, apologizing for the collapse and asserting that the building was well constructed and safe for further use. The event, he claimed, had not been caused by faulty workmanship but by the excessive weight of too many people on the structure. He denied responsibility for the accident, saying that the injured should seek redress from fight promoter R. A. Grant who had leased the arena.

 

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