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Auto Wreck: 1923

Auto Wreck: 1923

        A larger, more detailed version of a photo we first posted six years ago, with the details supplied by Shorpy member Stanton Square, accompanied by a "new" image here.

Washington, D.C. A curious photograph titled "Auto wreck. 7/30/23." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Always suspect --

Those novelty salesmen.


The damage to the car and the relatively minor injuries suffered by its other occupants argue against the "estimated 70 miles an hour" speed.

Chain Bridge Wreck

I've been searching the Washington Post archives trying to find the back-stories for some of the photographs on Shorpy. See, for example,

I've found an account of a July 30, 1923, wreck at Chain Bridge whose description seems to fit this photo. The story is surprisingly familiar - young kids party all night, wreck the car and then tell a fanciful story to the investigating police

Washington Post: July 31, 1923

Plunge Over Bank at Chain Bridge in Auto May be Fatal

Mrs. Dorothy Holland, 20 years old, of Baltimore, Md., stopping at 1420 Harvard street northwest, lies in Georgetown University Hospital suffering from internal hemorrhages as a result of an automobile in which she was riding going over a 30-foot embankment near the Virginia end of the Chain bridge at 6 o'clock yesterday morning.

Detective Sergeants H.M. Jett and Joseph Connors worked on the case more then fifteen hours in establishing the woman's real identity. Physicians at the hospital hold little hope for Mrs. Holland's recovery. Her sister, Mrs Myrtle Griffith, 1602 Gorsuch avenue, Baltimore, was summoned here last night by the local authorities.

When the machine, a touring car, traveling at an estimated 70 miles an hour going in the direction of Virginia, left the road and crashing through a fence dropped to the jagged rocks below three other persons were in the car besides Mrs. Holland. Two escaped with minor injuries while the driver of the machine, whose identity the police have been unable to establish, escaped injury. The other occupants of the machine were Mrs. Edna Metos, 24 years old, with whom Mrs. Holland stopped, and Bernard Shrove, of 56 Foxhall road, northwest. Mrs. Metos, was injured about the head and suffered shock. Shreve suffered a sprained ankle.

While police believe that Mrs. Metos was driving the machine at the time of the accident, both she and Mrs. Holland declare that a man whose name they do not know was the operator of the machine.

According to the police, the accident was the result of an all-night party that began at 1 o'clock yesterday morning. It was learned that the party went to the vicinity of the Chain bridge and were sitting on the bridge listening to music from a nearby camp.

Frank Haggerty, said to be a novelty salesman, and stopping at the Sterling hotel, but according to the police, also rooming at the Harvard street address, one of the party, left the machine when Shreve crossed the bridge riding a bicycle.

Haggerty, according to Shreve, asked him to let him ride the bicycle. When Haggerty started riding toward the District side of the bridge, Shreve said that the woman invited him to take a ride. They got in the machine and after going to the District side double back on their tracks and, traveling at a terrific rate of speed, started toward Virginia.

Shreve told Detectives Jett and Connors that a woman was driving the machine when it crashed over the embankment. Passing autoists brought the injured to Georgetown hospital.

Following an early investigation, Haggerty was taken into custody by police of the Seventh precinct and at a late hour last night was still held on an investigation charge. Deputy Sheriff C.C. Clements, of Arlington county, last night requested the local authorities that if Mrs. Holland died from her injuries to arrest Mrs Metos and hold her for the Virginia authorities.

[Excellent work, PER, and much appreciated. Maybe you can figure out who the Edwards boy was. As well as Mr. McDevitt. - Dave]

Rock Creek Parkway

That was the year construction started on Rock Creek Parkway, and the water suggests that this car strayed off the parkway a bit.

[That, and the three trees he knocked over on the way in. Would be interesting to see if someone near Rock Creek Park could locate the spot. - Dave]

1923 Wreck

I have seen this photograph published before, in a book by Robert Reed. Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me remember the title. Perhaps someone here knows what I'm writing about?

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