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Main Street Bridge: Onsite Death of D.M. Carey, 1892

- from The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Jan. 15, 1892, p. 5.



Mr. D.M. Carey, the Contractor, is Precipitated


He is the Victim of the First Fatal Accident at the Main Street Stone Bridge — His Body Not Recovered. Sorrow for His Death Almost Universal — His Career.

Mr. Carey, Daily Intelligencer, Jan. 15, 1892The third death within a week of prominent business men of Wheeling occurred yesterday, and the sensational manner of this death addeds to the shock of the intelligence. It was reported about the city in the forenoon yesterday that Mr. Dominick Carey, of the well known contracting firm of Paige, Carey & Co., had been drowned in the creek, and inquiry confirmed the awful story. The death of a man of his prominence and usefulness, coming so close upon the death of two such representative men as Mr. Michael Reilly and Mr. Benjamin Fisher, would have been enough of itself to send a thrill of sorrow through the community, but the special features which made the horror of it almost as great as the sorrow which was general.

The accident happened at exactly a quarter before ten o'clock. Mr. Carey was standing on the south end of the tramway on which stone is hauled across the creek for use on the masonry at the south end of the Main street stone bridge, the contract for building which his firm has, and the work on which he has superintended. The tramway broke, a section of it with a car on which was a stone weighing two or three tons, going down, and taking Mr. Carey with it. He sank at once, and did not rise, from which fact it is believed that his body is pinned down near where it sank by the stone, which fell with him.


Mr. Carey had gone down to the bridge a little before the accident occurred, and meeting Mr. Hallock, of Hallock brothers, who have a subcontract on the bridge, he asked his opinion about the safety of the tramway. They discussed the matter for a little while, standing on the north wing wall of the stone bridge. The creek was much swollen by the heavy rain of the night, and was running out like the Niagara rapids. The drift and debris carried down by the turbulent stream struck the trestling under the tramway and shook the structure so as to make it seem in great danger. Captain Hallock said he had warned the men to be careful about going on the tramway, and the conversation ended. Mr. Carey walked out on the track, and crossed the creek on it to the south end, where there was a car such as is used to convey the stone. He stood beside it, watching the water and the men at work. Mr. Pete Healy, time-keeper on the work, was also on the tramway, not far from where Mr. Carey stood.


Where Mr. Carey was Drowned. Daily Intelligencer, Jan. 15, 1892

Suddenly, without any warning sound, the timbers below gave way and a section of the bridge fell, the planks on top parting with the weight on them, The car and the stone on it, the trestle and all fell into the rushing water, with a loud splash and crash. Mr. Carey fell with it and sank beneath the surface. Those who were near watched anxiously for his reappearance in the water, but he was not again seen after the yellow creek closed over him.

Thomas Connors, who is employed on the bridge, saw the accident, and had presence of mind to shout to Mr. Carey, "For God's sake, Mr. Carey, catch hold or something."

Whether he heard this cry or not, [microfilm scratched for about 2 lines] would no doubt have been able to save his life, but that the car and stone, which had hung for an instant in its descent, jus t then fell, the huge stone striking him in the middle of the back, and carrying him into the water beneath it, and probably falling on his body in such a way as to hold it down on the bottom of the creek.


The creek was so high and so rapid that no effective search for the body could be made. Mr. Carey's friends were all notified, and in a short time there were a great many people on the scene. Mr. Hitchcock, the firm's bookkeeper, sent telegrams all along the river to watch out for the body, but there was little confidence in this resulting in anything. A telegram was sent to Cleveland for a diver, requesting that he come as soon as possible. He will be sent down to search in the vicinity where Mr. Carey went down.

There has not been any occurrence in the city since the old B. & O. trestle over the creek went down, taking several prominent people with it, which has caused so much excitement. Even that event was more fortunate in its outcome, for there was not a life lost. The regret for the death of Mr. Carey was as nearly universal as a feeling of sorrow ever was in any community.


He was a large-heared, bluff man, without an enemy so far as anybody knows. Even the Italian laborers who are employed by the firm felt his loss as if it had been a personal bereavement, and several of them shed tears, as did everybody whowas associated with him in any capacity. The most prominent men in the city expressed their sense of sorrow to Mr. Carey's immediate friends, and there was a great deal of unanimity in the view that in his demise the city loses a valuable friend, who in all probability would have become a useful citizen.

Only on Wednesday evening, in Hotel Windsor lobby, Mr. Carey and Mr. Gil Brown, who were very close friends, were talking, and Mr. Benjamin Fisher's sudden death was spoken of, when Mr. Carey, in his usual good-natured manner, remarked: "Eat, drink and be merry, for to-morrow we die."

The last conversation Mr. Carey had before leaving the office of the firm on Fourteenth street was with Mr. Lathrop, one of his olded associates in business, and was on the subject of the sudden death of Mr. Fisher. Mr. Lathrop said that he believed in fore-ordination, and that no man would die till his time came. Mr. Carey characterized this view as foolish, and bidding Mr. Lathrop good bye, left for the bridge.


Mr. Carey's home was on East Euclid avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, where he leaves a widow and three body, the oldest of them eight years old. He was forty-eight years of age, and had been in the same business of contracting since he started in life for himself at a very youthful age. He has been in partnership with Hon. David R. Paige for a great many years, and they have done some of the most important railroad and bridge building in this section. It is estimated that is his estate were today converted into cash he would leave about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, but his work now in progress and contracts recently made would increase this very much. He owns a fine farm in Northern Ohio, not far from Paynesville, and has recently bought a number of lots of the South Side of this city, on which he built sixteen or eighteen substanstial houses. He had great confidence in the future of Wheeling, and some of his intimate friends think that he would soon have located here had not death cut short his career.


In response to the telegram informing him of his partner's sudden and shocking death Mr. Paige yesterday telegraphed to Mr. William Lathrop giving instructions as to the disposition of the body, and he added that the partnership agreement of the firm was such that all contracts are continued by the surviving partners, and the widow will retain her husband's interest in the firm.

Mr. Carey was about the figure with a view to his firm's bidding on two tunnels in Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania company. He was the practical man of the firm, and his death is a severe, if not an irreparable blow to the business. He is said to have been one of the most expert and correct men on an estimate in the whole country.

The firm had just finished building twenty-five miles of the Norfolk & Western railroad in the southern part [two lines illegible due to scratched microfilm] Washingtonville, Ohio, and have contracted recently to build the belt line at Cleveland. They built all but twenty-five miles of the Ohio river railroad, the Valley railroad, in Ohio, the Connotton Valley railroad, five miles of the aqueduct in New York City, the payment for which is now in litigation, owing to an error of the city's engineer, the Wheeling Bridge & Terminal rail company's great [one line obscured by scratch] North Wheeling and the company's whole system of tracks, bridge and tunnels, and if Mr. Carey should never have another monument his personal work on the last named contract would keep his memory green so long as that splendid work shall last. The city's stone bridge over Wheeling creek at Main street, on which he has spent so much time, was source of much pride to him, and the fact that the work had been prosecuted thus far without serious accident was often referred to by himwith much pride and satisfaction. It seems particularly sad that after the work was so nearly done he himself should meet his death in so shocking a manner.


Mr. Lathrop last evening received a telegram from the diver at Cleveland saying he would leave for Wheeling at midnight last night, and arrive early this morning prepared to go to work immediately. Another telegram was received from Cleveland saying that Mrs. Carey and her husband's brother would arrive in Wheeling at midnight last night on the B. & O. road.

Judge Cochran last night received the following telegrams:

CANTON, OHIO, January 14.

R. H. Cochran:

Am shocked beyond words by your telegram announcing Carey's death. Advise me when the body is found and as to the time and place of the burial.


NEW YORK, January 14.

Judge R. H. Cochran

Spare no pains or expense to recover Mr. Carey's body. Keep me advised.



Numerous other telegrams of sympathy were received by friends of Mr. Carey.

Judge Cochran probably felt the loss as keenly as any person not of the dead man's own family. He had been associated intimately with him for several years, and a warm friendship had sprung up between them. He spoke yesterday of the unfortunate man's many good qualities of mind and heart with eveident feeling.

The wife of Mr. Paige is very ill in New York, which may prevent his coming to Wheeling at once.

Dr. Charles Frissell, who has been physician for the firm in all of the work they have done here, said last night that there had not been a fatality on the bridge. Last summer Mr. Carey said to him that, with all the care that could possibly be exercised, if the arch was finished without the loss of several lives, it would seem to him almost a miracle.

In the North Wheeling tunnel work of the firm there was not a fatal accident. In the Chapline hill tunnel seven lives were lost.


Mr. Carey not long ago formed a partnership with Mr. E. B. Carney, and they leased the Hotel Windsor, which Mr. Carey took a good deal of pride in being interested in. He made his home in the hotel and had ever since he came here to prosecute his work on the Terminal system.

Mr. Carey remarked to a friend the other evening that he had his life insured for $50,000. He had also an accident policy for $10,000. Mrs. Carey is quite wealthy in her own right.

At a meeting of gentlemen interested in a corporation yesterday, at which Mayor Seabright was present, the mayor made a suggestion that Mr. Carey deserved a monument and that it would be a good idea to erect one to him and another to the late Colonel Bissell, who was so long associated with Mr. Carey in the Terminal work, which has done so much for the city. His idea was to have the City Council appoint a committee of citizens at its meeting this evening to raise the necessary funds, and that the monuments be erected by popular subscription entirely. He suggested also that one be put at the north end of the stone bridge and another at the south end, and the amount subscribed decide the character of the [scratch on film] to be procured. The idea met with a good deal of favor among those who heard it suggested, and the plan will probably be carried out.

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