An Experience in a Balky Elevator

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 7, 1904

An Experience in a Balky Elevator

Two Women Try to Descend in Court House Elevator – Trip Takes an Hour

Stops Between Two Floors

Elevator Will Neither Go Up Nor down – See No Humor in Situation

Compelled to stand in an elevator that balked between the first and second floors and positively refused to either go up or down, their calls for assistance unanswered and their utmost efforts to either operate the machine or to devise a means of escape from the trap in which they found themselves, was the unpleasant experience of Mrs. Henry Olson, wife of Sheriff Olson, and her visitor, Mrs. Frank Clark, a few days ago.

The story, which declined to be suppressed, can be seen in a humorous light by persons to whom it is told, but to the two women who were caged in the elevator for what to them seemed like an infinite time, there is no humor attacked (sic) to it. Although the situation was devoid of danger, it was extremely exasperating and not in the least laughable to them.

There are two elevators in the court house. One leads from the sheriff’s office to the top floor and is used for the conveyance of prisoners and visitors to and from the jail. The other is in the southeast corner of the building and is for the private use of the sheriff and his family, who occupy the south side of the fourth floor. It was this elevator that balked when it had descended and it occupants from the top floor to four feet above the top of the door of the first floor.

Mrs. Clark had been calling at the Olson home. She had climbed the stairs, but in leaving had been induced by Mrs. Olson to descend in the elevator. The latter operated the machine and the trip was made successfully from the fourth to the second floor and part way down to the first.

Then the elevator stopped. The elevator shaft is a cage of iron netting. The elevator itself has no doors, the entrance being closed by the side of the shaft when the car is in motion. For this reason when the electricity which furnished the motive power failed, not a single means of exit was offered to the encaged women. They called for help, but unfortunately for them the elevator is in a part of the building furtherest from the offices. It has no chairs or seats of any kind and for that reason they had to stand up.

An old man heard their calls, and inquired as to the trouble, but aside from volunteering the information that he “guessed you’ll have to stay up there,” was of no material assistance.

Finally a small boy came to the rescue and was dispatched to the office of the Light & Power company, where he reported the predicament. After some delay the power was turned on, but instead of going down the elevator ascended to the top floor. Her visitor was content to be free again and favored descending by means of the stairway, but the sheriff’s wife was determined to make the elevator obey whether it wanted to or not. The women embarked for the second time and this time made the trip successfully.

(Editor’s note: In an effort to make this easier to read, I have introduced paragraph breaks in a few logical places. The original article only had two paragraphs. I think I will continue this practice for the future for the ease of the reader.)

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