158-170 N. Main Street
Albion, New York
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Sept. 28, 1859
250 people & 5 horses gathered here on a wooden bridge to watch a tightrope walker cross the canal. It collapsed killing 15 people
By The Orleans County Historical Association — 2002
What was there
A wooden bridge across the canal, with buildings on both sides – on one side, a hotel – and on the other side, a row of shops. It was between these buidings that the rope was suspended. This was the site of the Orleans County Fair on this day in 1859.
From the Orleans Republican newspaper on October 5,1859:
What is there now
A modern steel deck lift bridge across the canal, and modern downtown Albion.
- The tightrope walker was George Williams of Brockport, who was inspired by French gymnast, Charles Blondin’s, walk across a 1,100-foot-long tight rope, while suspended 160 feet above the Niagara River, just 3 months earlier.
- Some reports indicate that as many has 1000 people may have been on the bridge at the time of the collapse, and that 18 people died. At least one person was killed as she stood on the towpath below the bridge as it collapsed.
- Newspaper accounts of the 1859 Erie Canal Bridge Collapse
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