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This book will look at the socio-economic conditions which led to the City of Tacoma hosting a grand Independence Day celebration at the dawning of the 20th Century. The special events planned during that week attracted guests from every corner of the state. Transportation systems were woefully inadequate for the throng that arrived, setting the stage for an epic disaster. All of those who were involved in the tragedy were ordinary folks looking to celebrate our nation’s independence. In a moment, their lives were inexplicably changed.
It had all the makings of a grand celebration – the first Fourth of July of the 20th century in the newly minted frontier city of Tacoma, Washington. But things went horribly awry—43 riders on a runaway streetcar died, many more were injured, and transportation history was changed. It was a story in need of telling, and we are indebted to rail historian Russell Holter for his years of research and his absorbing account.
— Dale Wirsing, PhD, Vice-president, Tacoma Historical Society November 10th, 2016
A comprehensively researched, little known historical tale of unparalleled carnage in the City of Tacoma.
— Guy Tasa, PhD., State Physical Anthropologist, State of Washington November 1st, 2016
Russell Holter is a historian for the State of Washington working for the past 15 years for the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. He is a graduate of the University of Washington at Tacoma. Holter has published two books on Pierce County history. His first book, Rails To Paradise, captured the story of the train which ran to Mount Rainier National Park. Holter is also working on publishing an overview of Washington State railroad history. Holter won the 2016 Tacoma Historical Society’s Murray Morgan Award for history.