Charles "Charlie" Hart


…helped pull between 50 and 100 people from the river…

Charles "Charlie" Hart 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 capsized.

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.

The Chicago Tribune quoted superintendent F. D. Fredericks 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.

Help tell the story...
If you have more information about this person or the Eastland Disaster, we'd love to hear from you. We're constantly adding new information to our collection to help tell the whole story of the Eastland Disaster and the thousands of lives affected by the tragedy of July 24, 1915.