Digest>Archives> June 2010

Train Delivers Lifeboats for Rescue

By Timothy Harrison


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This historic image of lifeboats being taken off railroad cards in Dayton, Ohio sent to us by Judi Kearney really caught our attention, especially since there never was a United States Life Saving Service Station in Dayton, Ohio.

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Further investigation revealed that the life saving rescue boats were shipped via railroad cars from the U.S. Life Saving Station in Louisville, Kentucky to Dayton, Ohio to help in rescue efforts of the Great Flood of March, 1913. It is unknown how many people the crew rescued, but reports indicated that hundreds of people were stranded on roof tops and small storm-made islands created by the flood. From the appearance of the photo, the men were experiencing some great difficulty in getting the boats off the railroad car.

Reportedly, the Louisville Kentucky Life Saving Station was the only inland life saving station in the United States, and perhaps the world. Interestingly, it was also one of the few floating life saving stations ever built. From the period of 1881 to about 1921, the crew of the Louisville station provided aid to nearly 7,000 endangered victims and saved as much as $7 million in property. But, as much as they tried, they couldn’t save everyone. During that time they also recovered nearly 400 bodies from the Ohio River.

This story appeared in the June 2010 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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