Narrow Escape Euchre Bar Suspension Bridge Crashes Into the American River

From the January 25, 1895 Colfax Sentinel

Leopold Dorer and Thomas Patrick Fall 40 Feet Into the Stream.

At 3 p.m. January 18th, the suspension bridge across the American river at Euchre Bar between Towles and Pioneer mine fell with a crash and is now a complete wreck. Leopold Dorer and Thomas Patrick, with their pack animals, who were on the structure, were thrown into the river 40 feet below. The fact that they both escaped death is a miracle.

They had started out to view the trail and examine the telephone line. Patrick rode a mule and Dorer a gray horse.

When they reached the center of the bridge, the turn-buckle which held the upper cable to the anchor broke and the men and animals were thrown slightly up-stream and into the river. The strain was immediately transferred to the remaining cable which parted and the next instant the bridge lay in the river, a complete wreck. With great efforts both men, showing a wonderful presence of mind, managed to secure a hold on portions of the wrecked bridge.

Dorer managed to climb up one cable hand over hand, and reach the shore, but Patrick, who was considerably bruised and stunned by the fall, could not do so. E.L. Ford, of Euchre Bar, soon threw him a rope which Patrick made fast to his waist and he was rescued from his perilous position. Patrick was severely bruised and shaken up, but Dorer was not much injured.

A very curious thing happened to Patrick during his terrible fall. He carried a sharp axe on his shoulder for use in cutting brush. During the plunge, the axe blade struck him on the shoulder, cutting through the clothing and making a slight wound. It then glanced and struck his mule, literally cutting its brains out, and killing it instantly.

There was only 10 inches of snow on the bridge and it has often withstood a greater weight.

The bridge was erected by the county and money expended in its construction including repairs makes its total cost about $1300.

A bridge remains some distance lower down the river, which is passable for one animal at a time.

Republished in The Dutch Flat Chronicles by Russell Towle, 1994