Teller & Van Deren Block blown Down – The New York store Crushed and its Inmates Buried in the Ruins – The Cry of Fire at Midnight – Rushing of the Winds and the People – Digging out the Victims – Chief Engineer Bush on his Mettle Scenes, Incidents, Etc.
(From the Daily Central City Register, Central City, Colorado, Tuesday Evening, December 8, 1874)
Soon after sundown last evening, a high and strong wind arose, and its voice was like the rushing of many waters. What was at the beginning scarcely more than what mariners would call a “stiff breeze,” toward midnight became a tremendous hurricane and from that time on till daylight blew “great guns,” causing our firmest stone and brick buildings to tremble and shiver in every timber, and the weaker ones to rock like cradles.
About two o’clock, when the gale was at its height, the dread alarm of Fire! Fire!! Fire!!! was heard above the noise of the mighty winds, and startled the inhabitants of Central with a shock of horror. The very idea of there being a fire at such a time, was sufficient to appall the stoutest hearts, and fill them with fearful forebodings. Almost instantly thereafter, Chief Engineer Bush, his efficient assistants Thomas Mullen and N. H. McCall, were on the street, making with all speed for the scene of action.
By inquiry of the night watch it was found that the unfinished east wall of Teller & Van Deren’s block at the head of Main street, had been blown down upon the one-story brick adjoining, occupied by the New York store, and smashing in the roof, had buried the three occupants of the building, the Rachofsky Bro’s, beneath a vast pile of rubbish.
To procure axes, picks, and shovels, was the work of a moment, when a sufficient force to remove the debris began tearing away timbers, bricks and fragments of tin roofing, which covered the unfortunate men. They had gone to bed at the usual hour, in a small enclosure partitioned off in the northeast corner of the store, and had left a light fire in the stove, and a lighted lamp on one of the tables or counters in the salesroom, but the crush was so sudden and overwhelming, there was no chance for these dangerous elements to set fire to anything.
Happily for the unconscious sleepers, the falling storm of brick broke the roof over their heads, in such a manner, as to throw down over them in the shape of a rude shelter, sufficient joists and fragments of boards, to shield the upper parts of their bodies, while their extremities were fastened as in a vice.
This enabled them to direct in a manner the exertions of the workmen for their release, and after half an hour of constant digging, the elder Rachofsky was pulled out and taken into the restaurant next door, kept by Mrs. Davis, who gave the first alarm. He was found to be bruised somewhat about the head and face, but not otherwise injured.
Next, the youngest brother was uncovered and taken to the same place, when Mrs. Davis, with womanly tenderness, made up a comfortable bed for him, and laid him down to await the arrival of a physician. Fifteen minutes later Abe Rachofsky was freed from his heavy pinions and borne by stout arms to the restaurant when it was found that he had been badly cut about the back of his head, and it was feared internally injured. Dr. Tolles was sent for and soon arrived. He examined the wounds and dressed them carefully, but finding no cause for alarm in any of the internal symptoms.
A guard composed of members of the Fire Department, was then stationed in and around the ruined building to protect its contents from pillage, when the people retired to their several homes heartily glad that the accident was but an accident, and not a conflagration.
This morning at daylight Messrs. Mullen, Bush, McCall and others caused the rubbish inside the store to be removed sufficiently to ascertain the extent of damage done to the stock, when it was discovered that it was scarcely injured at all except by clouds of lime and brick dust.
The patients are at this writing as comfortable as could be expected, but the completion of our lecture and concert hall will be for some time postponed.
I transcribed this article as it appeared in the original newspaper, word for word, using the original spelling, grammar, capitalization and punctuation. To facilitate ease of reading, I divided the article into additional paragraphs. A microfilm copy of the original Daily Central City Register newspaper article can be viewed at the Denver Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver, Colorado 80204. Steve N. Byrne, Transcriber, Denver, Colorado, October 24, 2017.