EDHS News and Updates

"Remembering the Heroes": Charles Hart

Chicago, Illinois -- We honor Charles "Charlie" Hart in this week's "Remembering the Heroes" series.   

Charlie was working at the Dunham Towing and Wrecking Company on the morning of the Eastland Disaster. The Dunham plant was located on the north side of the Chicago River just a few blocks west of where the Eastland was moored.

When word of the Eastland Disaster reached him, Charlie and two others immediately left their work and ran down to the dock near their plant. Here they commanded a tug, the Rita McDonald, with Charlie taking the wheel. They successfully maneuvered the Rita McDonald to an area of the river where the mass of people struggling to stay alive was the thickest.

(Pictured: tug in the center is the Rita McDonald (with the small, dark pilot house, immediately to the left of the white pilot's house). Stern of the Eastland is to the left, Petoskey on the right.)
Superintendent F.D. Fredericks was quoted in the Chicago Tribune shortly after the tragedy: "I had Charlie take the wheel. He's been there before and I could keep my head out the window and run her without waiting for signals. We picked up two construction rafts on the way up and got in where the people were thickest without a bit of trouble." 

Thanks to Charlie's brave efforts, the men pulled between 50 to 100 people from the river that fateful day.


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