This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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100 in the Shade

11 September 2015

It's hot. Too hot. Even a ride on the trolley car brings no relief.
Who needs music when it's so hot?

The sun flashes off the shiny brass instruments of the Athens, Pennsylvania Band, whose 17 musicians look less than enthusiastic for a concert. Behind them, a banner on a street car trolley reads:
InterState Fair Now On

It is September 16, 1915, and the end of summer has brought record hot temperatures across the northeast. Athens, Pa is situated about 2 miles south of the New York state line at the fork of the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers. In 1910 the population of Athens was 3,796. 

This postcard of the Athens Band was addressed to  Mrs. L. Van Patten, R48, Cato, N.Y.

Athens, Pa.
9/16 /15

I think it was 3 years ago
today that we took those
Mexican pictures in Canadian
This is the big day here
about 100 in the shade

Love from

* * *

New Steel Bridge at Athens, PA taken out by flood.
April 2, 1916

In 1916 the spring weather was cold and very wet.
Record rainfall and melting snow brought the two rivers
on either side of Athens, to a dangerous flood stage. 


Special to The Inquirer.

TOWANDA, Pa., April 2.---A new steel bridge built across the Susquehanna River at Athens, two years ago, at a cost to Bradford county of $68,000, was destroyed by the flood today. The west and middle spans were torn out, leaving the east span intact. A pier built in 1844 and repaired with concrete for the new bridge in 1914, was undermined by the swirling flood waters, which made a hole into which the pier slid, allowing the two spans to tumble into the river.

David A. Keefe, who designed the bridge, witnessed the destruction of the structure to the scene. The State will have to rebuild the bridge.

The Interstate Fair at Athens may have to be abandoned because of the loss of the bridge which is used to reach the grounds. The river remained stationary here today at 18½ feet. Freezing temperature setting in last night has prevented the snow from melting today. All the lowlands are under water.

Abraham Hiltz, aged 70, a farmer, while hurrying along the Lehigh tracks north of Towanda tonight, bent on notifying a neighbor of danger to his livestock from the raging waters of the Susquehanna River nearby, was struck by a fast train and killed. His body was hurled one hundred feet.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA
3 Apr 1916

* * *

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where everyone else is enjoying a glass of wine.


Jo Featherston said...

Defnitely going from one weather extreme to another, one hundred years ago. My husband's 3x great grandfather Dan Calwell operated a ferry service across the Susquhanna at White Deer Mills in the 1830s, before a bridge was built there. He was also instrumental in the construction of what was known as the Jersey Shore Bridge.

Deb Gould said...

Hasn't hit 100 up here yet, but we've come edgingly close to it! Poor farmer...

Kristin said...

I wonder if the little boy was the band mascot and if he grew up to play in a band.

What a horrible fate, trying to warn a neighbor and being hit by a train and then thrown 100 feet. I bet the neighbor survived.

Barbara Rogers said...

Goodness gracious, as my grandmother would say, who was alive at the time of these events. First so hot in the fall of 1915, then floods the next spring! Poor farmer, and maybe the cows which perhaps were left to fend for themselves in the flood since their farmer wasn't warned. Life may have been simpler then, but it was full of the same strivings, delights, and tragedies.

Anonymous said...

For the fault in a pier a bridge was lost and the flow on effect would have lasted for a long while. Very interesting.

Alex Daw said...

It sounds like Australian weather...bushfires one weekend...floods the next. I found the explanation of the bridge collapse fascinating.

Little Nell said...

It’s about 90 here at the moment and I would not want to be playing in a band - even if I had the talent to do so!

Barbara Fisher said...

One can only imagine the thoughts of the designer as he witnessed the destruction of the bridge.
Interesting post, thank you for sharing it.

Wendy said...

"Mexican pictures in Canadian" -- what does that even mean??

Tattered and Lost said...

The Susquehanna does have a history of flooding. In Harrisburg there was a wonderful old foot bridge that went out to a little island, City Island. In 1996 sections of the bridge collapsed following a flood. My cousin living outside Harrisburg called to give me the news. I actually had no memory of the bridge, but my mother did and she was sad to hear it was damaged. But if you live near the Susquehanna I think you have to get used to floods and bridge damage. They seem to go hand-in-hand as was proven when the same cousin called a few years later to tell of the bridge near Duncannon where he lived was flooded.


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