Olympic Park Bleacher Collapse of 1884

By Joe Lowry
Edited by Trish Gully

By the end of the 1800s, Memphis would suffer from diseases, building boiler explosions, ten steamboat explosions with fire, several buildings collapsed with fatalities, and the Olympic Park bleacher collapse on April 21, 1884.

Dr. William Frank Carvers Western Show was crossing the US, and on April 21, they were in Memphis at the Olympic Park. Olympic Park was on a 15-acre tract of land. The park was between Marley on the west, the name changed to Ayers in 1910, Brinkley on the east, changed to Decatur in 1906, and Ohio Avenue on the south changed to Autumn in 1910. Galloway was on the North.

Local and traveling baseball games, circuses, band concerts, and picnics were enjoyed over the years there. But this Sunday afternoon, Dr. W. Carvers Rocky Mountain and Prairie Exhibition, a popular wild West show where Indians and cowboys chased and shot at each other, put on a show, all for a crowd of 2000 People.

Many people were sitting on wooden bleachers; one suddenly heard a loud crack, and within 60 seconds, the entire bleachers had collapsed. 15 to 20 severe injuries, broken bones, fractured skulls, internal injuries, and sixty with minor injuries, cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Several had to be transported by wagon to the hospital, and helpers or family members took others home, where their family doctors came to their house to treat them. Today this would be called a Mass Casualty Disaster.

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