April 16 - 1919: Steamer slams into Sagamore Bridge

1954: "Tip" O'Neill runs for JFK's seat in Congress. 1967: Huge oil spill ruins 35 miles of Lower Cape Beach
The accident closed the canal for 30 hours.

1919: Two hurt as Steamer Belfast slams into Sagamore Bridge, closes canal

Jammed steering gear was believed responsible for the accident

On this day in 1919, the steamer Belfast of the Eastern Steamship Lines slammed into the Sagamore Bridge, injuring an officer and two passengers in the pilot house and forward superstructure. The Belfast was "caught in a stiff breeze and a cross-current - the worst combination for mariners - in the Cape Cod Canal," wrote Robert H. Farson in his 1977 book, "The Cape Cod Canal".

With her bow jammed under the north span of the bridge, predecessor to the current structure of the same name, and the Belfast's stern extending into mid-channel, the vessel blocked the canal for 30 hours. Vehicle traffic was detoured south to the Bourne Bridge. The Belfast was bound from New York for Boston in the tail end of its first round-trip of the season, carrying 150 passengers. "Two of the injured were passengers whose staterooms were wrecked by the collision," reported The Syracuse (N.Y.) Herald. "One was a priest, who was found buried beneath a pile of bedding and debris once his stateroom was reached." Jamming of the steering gear was believed responsible for the accident.

1952: "Tip" O'Neill announces his run for U.S. Congress

Took Jack Kennedy's seat as US Representative

On this day in 1952 Thomas P. ("Tip") O'Neill announced that he would run for the seat in Congress being vacated by John F. Kennedy as Kennedy began a campaign for the Senate. He would serve in the U.S. Congress for the next 39 years, the last ten as Speaker of the House, and retired to Harwich until he died in 1994. Tip on the right with J.F.K.

An affable man who believed "all politics is local," O'Neill played an important role in national affairs -supporting civil rights, opposing the Vietnam War, and leading the fight for liberal causes. He later retired in Harwich.

1967: Cape Cod beaches hit by an oil slick

35 miles useless this summer, hundreds of waterfowl killed

On this day in 1967 a huge oil slick hit Cape Cod killing hundreds of ducks and making beaches useless for recreation far 35 miles along the Atlantic Ocean side of the Cape.

The oceanside Atlantic beaches from Provincetown to Chatham were covered with oil from a yet unknown source.

The area ruined for beach activities that summer included Truro, Eastham and Orleans as well.

The oil slick seemed to be coming from the southeast according to a ranger at the Cape Cod National Seashore Park, and the Coast Guard said it was crude oil, probably from a tanker.

Click here to see a short Public Domain newsreel of the event.

The newspaper story that day is below:


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