FAVORITE CAPSIZE Chicago's Mini Eastland disaster

Jim Kalafus

Dec 3, 2000
July 28, 1927. Twelve years and four days after the Eastland disaster, the 64 foot, 2 deck, excursion boat Favorite departed from Chicago's Lincoln Park for Municipal Pier, 2 miles away. 75 passengers, mostly women and children, as well as a band and the ship's crew, were aboard.

The city was sweltering under a heat wave.

As the boat moved out into Lake Michigan, the heat wave broke. A heavy squall blew in from the east, striking the Favorite. She rolled on to her port side, throwing most of her passengers into Lake Michigan, and then righted herself as she sank. The water was shallow enough so that the canopy which sheltered her upper deck remained above the surface.

There was no passenger list, so an exact death toll por survivor list could not be determined, but at least 27 were lost and at least 50 were rescued. Among those who attempted to save the passengers were the crew of the yacht "Doris" who were on site, and Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller... or so said the papers.

The cause of the capsize was debated. The crew claimed that passengers scrambled to port to escape the squall-driven rain which was soaking them, while others claimed that the little boat was overcrowded, unstable, and had been rolled on to its side by the sudden heavy wind which struck it.

Life preservers with rotten straps were found, and introduced at the hearing.

And then the story faded from the papers, leaving this one of the more under represented disasters of the era.

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