1925 Ships Fabric, Girder & Authenticity Letter USS Shenandoah ZR-1 Zeppelin yqz
From the Crash of the Shenandoah in Ohio 1925…Auction Ending 04.21.14 9:40 PM EST
What a find. In this auction we have a 16 1/2″ girder section, a piece of fabric from the USS Shenandoah ZR-1 AND an authenticity letter. The letter was written by Major Terry Morris who knew the grandson of the Miller family, Major Paul Miller, who personally collected these items from the crash site of the Shenandoah. He in turn passed them on to Major Morris while they were stationed together at Ft. Benning, Georgia in the early 1980’s.
The USS Shenandoah was the first of four United States Navy rigid airships. It was built in 1922–1923 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, and first flew in September 1923. It developed the Navy’s experience with rigid airships, and made the first crossing of North America by airship. On the 57th flight, Shenandoah was torn apart in a squall line over Ohio in 1925. Thousands of people flocked to the wreckage which was then heavily looted. And we have a piece of that previously looted 89 year old girder section.
The girder measures approximately 16″ x 8 1/2″ and the fabric measures approximately 8 5/8″ x 7 //8″ at it’s wider part. In a separate auction we also have a piece of the ships fabric and photograph framed. What a great piece of history. Good luck.
History of the Shenandoah crash:
On 2 September 1925, Shenandoah departed Lakehurst on a promotional flight to the Midwest which would include flyovers of 40 cities and visits to state fairs. Testing of a new mooring mast at Dearborn, Michigan was included in the schedule. While passing through an area of thunderstorms and turbulence over Ohio early in the morning of 3 September, during its 57th flight, the airship was caught in a violent updraft that carried it beyond the pressure limits of its helium gas bags. It was torn apart in the turbulence and crashed in several pieces near Caldwell, Ohio. Fourteen of Shenandoah’s crew—including her commanding officer, Commander Zachary Lansdowne—were killed. This included every member of the crew of the control cabin, with the exception of Lieutenant Anderson, who barely escaped before it detached from the ship; two men who went through holes in the hull; and several mechanics who fell with the engines. There were twenty-nine survivors, who succeeded in riding three sections of the airship to earth. The largest group was eighteen men who made it out of the stern after it rolled into a valley. Four others survived a crash landing of the central section. The remaining seven were in the bow section which Commander (later Vice Admiral) Charles E. Rosendahl navigated as a free balloon. In this group was Anderson who—until he was roped in by the others—straddled the catwalk over a hole. A number of those crew who survived would later be killed in the loss of the Akron.
The Shenandoah Crash Sites are located in the hillsides of Noble County. Site No. 1, in Buffalo Township, surrounded the Gamary farmhouse, which lay beneath the initial break-up. An early fieldstone and a second, recent granite marker identify where Zachary Lansdowne’s body was found. Site No. 2 (where the stern came to rest) is a half-mile southwest of Site No. 1 across Interstate 77 in Noble Township. The rough outline of the stern is marked with a series of concrete blocks, and a sign marking the site is visible from the freeway. Site No. 3 is approximately six miles southwest in Sharon Township at the northern edge of State Route 78 on the part of the old Nichols farm where the nose of the Shenandoah’s bow was secured to trees. Although the trees have been cut down, a semi-circular gravel drive surrounds their stumps and a small granite marker commemorates the crash. The Nichols house was later destroyed by fire.
Two schools of thought developed about the cause of the crash. One theory is that the gas cells over-expanded as the ship rose, due to Lansdowne’s decision to remove the 10 automatic release valves, and that the expanding cells damaged the framework of the airship and led to its structural failure.