1917 Story of a Local Boy Washed into Soldiers’ Home Storm Sewer and Rescued by a Filtration Plant Workman

Here’s an article from the July 26, 1917 Washington Herald that a neighbor from Bloomingdale alerted me to.  It’s a story about a twelve-year-old boy playing on the Soldiers’ Home grounds during a rain storm that got washed in the storm sewer leading to the reservoir. Fortunately, everything turned out for the best. Below is the article.

Joe Moran headlineJoe Moran

His Rescue, After Hour and a Half Imprisonment in the Sewer, Saved Him From Almost Certain Death.

Yesterday afternoon Joe Moran, a twelve-year-old Washington boy, faced almost certain death for ninety minutes and never lost his nerve. Swept into a sewer, the chances favored his being swept along underground for six miles and then be washed out into the river.

A filtration plant workman named Thomas H. Green, by the merest chance, opened a manhole in the parking of the filtration plant district, along Hobart place, and found the boy clinging in the black depths, piping plaintively for help.

Joe told the story of his trip through the blackness of the sewer, a distance of nearly two city blocks, to a policeman, as he rode to Garfield Hospital in the patrol wagon yesterday afternoon. The description he gave was as follows:

By Joseph Moran,

“Another boy named Bobbie Bowman — there he is — (Bobbie was riding to the hospital with Joe) and I were wading the gutter in the park. It was rainin’, but we didn’t care, and pretty soon, Bob says to me: “Joe, this current’s gettin’ swift. We better get out.”

“I didn’t think the current was gettin’ swifter, though, so we kept on wading. All of a sudden Joe and I looked up the gutter and here came a big rush of water. It looked like a little wall, only it made the gutter deeper’n my waist. It was up around my arms. Joe give a jump and climbed up the side of the gutter and he tried to grab at me, but the water was too quick.

“All of a sudden I felt the water hit me and I couldn’t keep my feet. It was awful swift. I tried to grab the sides as I went along, but I couldn’t hold on. I looked down the gutter and the big sewer was getting closer and closer every second. (The sewer had a stone entrance about five feet high.)

“I tried awful hard to keep from going into the sewer, but I couldn’t help it. Then all of a sudden, everything was dark — oh, dark as anything. I couldn’t see the sides or the top or anything, except the hold where I came in, and that kept getting smaller and smaller. Pretty soon, I couldn’t see it a’ tall, and I kept going and going and couldn’t stop. The bottom was kinda sandy, but I couldn’t stop. It kept making me walk.

“I put out one hand — no, I wasn’t scared, exactly. I just wondered how I was gonna get out when the water went down. Then I felt my hand hit something, and I grabbed it, and it was a rusty nail. I held on tight, and I didn’t think about much of anything.

“I didn’t know what to do exactly, but I thought I’d wait till the water got low again, and then I’d wade back the way I had come. (Sewer men said yesterday that the lake outlet sewer empties into the bigger sewer a short distance after it leaves the reservoir grounds, and that Joe could not have lived in the larger sewer, owing to gases and its depth.)

“While I was hanging on, the water was splashin’ and roarin’ in my ears, and I couldn’t see a thing. Then, when the water was going down a little I saw a flash of light, and I looked up. There was a hole away up above my head, and I could see a man’s legs. (This was Green preparing to descend into the manhole.) Then he lowered a lantern, and I could see a little. Then I thought I better holler, and he heard me, and told me to hang on. He seemed so scared that he kinda scared me, specially when he told me to tie the rope around me. I tied it under my arms, and it cut, but I didn’t care. When I put my head out of the hole, I wasn’t in Soldier Home a’ tall. I was down near the reservoir. That must be an awful long sewer.”

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3 Comments on “1917 Story of a Local Boy Washed into Soldiers’ Home Storm Sewer and Rescued by a Filtration Plant Workman”

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