Elevator Drops Five Stories; Two Seriously Injured

Here’s a crazy story we dug up in The Baltimore Sun, printed on March 24th, 1887.

The elevator in the tobacco factory of Marburg & Bros., on South Charles street, fell yesterday morning from the fifth floor down to the first floor, a distance of about 75 feet, seriously, if not fatally injuring John Wehrhouse, aged 18 years, and Frederick Weber, aged 28 years, both of whom were on the elevator at the time. They had the elevator up to the fifth floor putting on tobacco frames, which were to be taken to the lower floor. Several of the frames lopped over the platform, and the men got upon it and down the hatchway. When about two feet below the level of the fifth floor the protruding frames caught in the timber on the side and the elevator stopped. The men, instead of pulling the check rope to stop the wire rope upon which the elevator works, allowed it to unwind from the coil, and went to work to loosen the frames. After several minutes they succeeded in getting the frames clear, when the elevator began to descend at a frightfully rapid rate of speed until it teached the extent of the wire rope, which extended to the first floor below. The elevator was thus brought to a sudden stoppage, and the two men were thrown against the cross beam, injuring them. Wehrhouse had his spine broken just above the hips, which caused immediate paralysis of the lower portion of the body. He also received a compound fracture of both thighs, and the bones were forced through the flesh about six inches. The upper part of the body was uninjured. Weber was hurt about the lower part of the spine, though it is not thought to be broken. He received a gash under the right eye, which extended down the cheek and around to his right ear. His nose was broken and several small bones in the face shattered. Dr. Henry W. Webster was immediately summoned, who, after rendering temporary relief, had the injured men removed to the Maryland University Hospital. It is thought they will probably die. Mr. Marburg says the men were on the elevator in disobedience of orders of the establishment, as a sign has been placed upon the elevator forbidding employes to ride on the elevator at any time. The elevator, which was put in several months ago, was uninjured.

What a terrifying experience. Luckily, the elevator was not hurt … what a ridiculous way to end the article. And, add to that, that the paper printed that it was likely they were going to die. What if family members were reading this? How horrible.

Doing a little research, it looks like the building was at 214 and 216 South Charles St.

Marburg & Bros. warehouse
Marburg & Bros. warehouse

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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