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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rochester Excursion Threatened

For two days in August 1936 headlines in the Daily Times of Beaver, PA, warned of the possibility that the annual Rochester Businessmen's picnic to Rock Springs Park might be cancelled due to the steamship on which the group was to travel being severely damaged in an accident just hours before the event. The large bold print declaring “Ride Cancelled” was very upsetting to area residents as their picnic was the highlight of the year. All Businesses in fact planned to close and the whole town was scheduled to attend.

According to the paper, “Officers of the Rochester Businessmen's Association anxiously awaited the outcome of an inspection of the Ohio River excursion steamer Washington to determine whether or not the craft will be available for the annual Rochester community boat ride and outing scheduled for Wednesday, August 19.” The boat was severely damaged when it crashed into the lower lock gate at U.S. Lock No. 8 near Newell, WV. Her hold began filling up with water and all 650 passengers were immediately evacuated. The Captain explained that he was returning the excursionists to Wheeling after their day at Rock Springs Park. A special train was dispatched from the Pennsylvania Railroad in Pittsburgh to carry them home that evening.

The inspection of the steamer Washington found that a pin had sheared off the ship's reversing gear as she was passing through the lock. It was expected that she would be repaired at Neville Island in time for participation in the celebration of the Montgomery Island Dam to be held on August 29, but not in time for the Rochester Picnic. The businessmen quickly set to work making other arrangements for transportation to Rock Springs. The outing would continue as planned but excursionists would have to rely on private automobiles and buses.

“Lower valley children and adults who for weeks have been looking forward to the annual outing will not be denied the picnic pleasures despite the accident that has prevented use of the Steamer Washington in transporting the picnickers to Rock Springs Park," The Daily Times reported on August 18. "Carefully laid plans for the picnic dashed almost on the very eve of the affair. Oliver Kunsman, chairman, announced that the picnic would be held as scheduled with the complete program to take place. The exodus of Rochester and the lower valley residents will start early in the morning and continue until mid-afternoon. The merrymakers with their well filled baskets will travel either by bus or by private automobiles. Buses to the park will operate on regular schedules between Beaver and East Liverpool where the picnickers may transfer to Chester-bound streetcars. The picnic committee also announced that all persons who had purchased boat ride tickets may obtain refunds."

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