Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

ELECTRIC POLE WAS SITE OF 1911 ELECTROCUTION TRAGEDY

Albion Recorder, April 18, 1997, pg. 4

The completion of the Cass St. bridge earlier this year and the downtown streetscape project has left us with some changes in the Cass-Superior Street vicinity. It is nice to be able to drive on a stable, solid and smooth bridge with adjacent approaches. The stone facade treatment looks great, and hopefully this bridge will last 100 years just like the other one did. If you notice carefully, the two identification marker stones that were placed in the 1896 Cass St. bridge were saved and placed on the southeast side of the new bridge.

I do wonder however, how the sinkhole in the middle of Superior Street at Cass Street under the bricks got there, and when it is going to be repaired. I don’t remember them tearing up the concrete base at that point when the brick street project was in progress.

Most noticeable now is the absence of the large electric utility pole which once stood on the southeast corner of Cass and Superior. The former pole was a major downtown junction point, and controlled the street lights in downtown Albion. This has been replaced by an electric panel which has been placed on the sidewalk to the rear side of the building.

It was at this pole that a Commonwealth Power employee lost his balance, fell on a live wire and was electrocuted on May 16, 1911. The man, John Miller from Leslie, was 24 years old. The unfortunate lineman received a shock of 2,300 volts, and died several hours later at Albion Hospital. Workmen called the Albion Fire Department which called the electric powerhouse to have the electricity shut off. Fire ladders were brought in, but it was fully fifteen minutes before the ladder was put up to rescue the dying man. The ladder got stuck in the process, and a man from Marshall who was a former member of the department went up the pole and started the rescue work.

By this time a crowd had gathered at the scene, and one entrepreneuring photographer snapped a photo of the scene, complete with spectators. He sold them as postcards. I’ve noticed that there are several different sensational “event” historical postcards that exist, all the way from piles of dead sheep killed by two dogs, to the great Flood of 1908.

This week we present the electrocution postcard, showing a crowd of people in front of the Wochholz & Gress grocery. The Albion Fire Department is attempting to rescue the man, who is shown dangling slumped over from the crossbar in the center of the pole. A fireman is shown at the top of the pole to stabilize the ladder.


The Electrocution Postcard

Next: OIL DISCOVERED BEHIND SUPERIOR STREET BY JESSE CROWELL


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