Ashes Under Water: The SS Eastland and the Shipwreck that Shook America
The untold story of the worst disaster on the Great Lakes in U.S. history. On July 24, 1915, Chicago commuters were horrified as they watched the SS Eastland, a tourism boat taking passengers across Lake Michigan, flip over while tied to the dock and drown 835 passengers, including 21 entire families. Rockefeller, Morgan, and Carnegie had bought into the ship business in the Midwest, creating a boom market and a demand for ships that were bigger, longer, faster.
The pressure-filled and greedy climate that resulted would be directly responsible for the Eastland disaster and others. As dramatic as the disaster was, the subsequent trial was even more so. The public demanded justice. When the immigrant engineer who was being scapegoated for the accident was left out to dry by the ship's owners, penniless and down-on-his-luck Clarence Darrow decided to take his case. The defense he mounted, which he was too ashamed to even mention in his memoirs, would be even more shocking.