One of the most spectacular runaways in Topeka’s history occurred when a team of City Railway horses demolished a light tower and landmark at the intersection of Tenth & Kansas Avenue. The accident occurred on October 24, 1887, six years after the 150-foot high steel tower had been constructed as a demonstration of the superiority of electricity over gas for street lighting. The demonstration tower failed to convince the city councilmen, and it had been used only on special occasions.

The team was being hitched to a car in front of the City Railway barn on West Tenth Street, the present location of the Memorial Building and State Historical Society. The following day the COMMON WEALTH carried an account of the accident.

--A team of horses broke loose from car No. 26 on the City Railway line and dashing up to the avenue, leaped over the water tank on the north side of the tower, and then passed under the tower, one horse going on one side of the brace and the other horse on the other side. This apparently wrenched the brace, and the whole tower was shaken. The tower stood on three heavy pipe legs, and the toppling of the upper part caused the north pipe to break off near the base; .


as there were only two legs remaining, the concern toppled over. It fell to the southwest across Kansas Avenue with a great crash. It fell across Jenks Bros.’ butcher shop, breaking through the roof and badly frightening the inmates. The front of S. L. Antrim’s store was broken in but $100 will probably cover all damage

The tower was a colossal and apparently immovable structure which would stand for ages. However, examination of the large pipe that broke shows that it had suffered from rust, and probably the first heavy wind would have caused it to topple over.

A few of the sight-seers who had flocked to the scene of the accident expressed their gratification at the demolition of the useless tower. One suggested that the city council extend a vote of appreciation to the team of horses who got the job done. Another observer was quoted as saying it was just the horses way of expressing contempt at electricity which, plain horse sense told them, would soon replace quadrupeds as motive power for street cars.






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The Light Tower at 10th & Kansas Ave.



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