Tacoma Narrows Bridge history - Tubby trivia
"Tubby" the dog fell into fame when Galloping Gertie collapsed on November 7, 1940. As the only victim of that great disaster, Tubby has earned a special place in the hearts of many. His death symbolizes the drama of that terrible day. All that is known about the unfortunate pooch is here. These few facts are a small but meaningful way to honor his unique place in history.
Bite costs life
Tubby crouched in the back seat of Leonard Coatsworth's car on November 7, 1940. When the car stopped because of Galloping Gertie's violent motion, Coatsworth abandoned the car. He tried to return to the car for Tubby, but couldn't. The bridge's motion had become too violent. Coatsworth's colleague, photographer Howard Clifford tried, but failed. Professor Farquharson, a dog lover, decided to try. He managed to reach the car, and opened the door to coax Tubby out. He tried to calm the sick, terrified pooch, but Tubby snapped at the friendly hand, nipping the knuckle. Farquharson gave up and staggered back to safety moments before the bridge collapsed. A photo of Farquharson appeared the next day in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, showing his left index finger wrapped with a bandage. The photo caption read "Token of 'Gratitude.'"
Where was Tubby?
Leonard Coatsworth abandoned his car and Tubby approximately 450 feet past the East Tower and 1,895 feet (631 yards) past the Toll Plaza. 3.
We don't know a lot about Tubby. We do know that he was a black male Cocker Spaniel and belonged to Leonard Coatsworth's daughter. Coatsworth's wife, Ethel, told a newspaper reporter in 1975 that Tubby "had three legs and was paralyzed."
Tubby's car - gone but not forgotten
Reporter Leonard Coatsworth, who lost his car and poor Tubby when Galloping Gertie collapsed, had trouble getting reimbursed for his loss. He sent in a claim, but six months passed with no news and no money. Finally, Coatsworth wrote a letter to the Washington State Toll Bridge Authority, pleading for a response. A couple weeks later, the WSTBA replied that they had never received his first request. More time passed. Finally, the WSTBA reimbursed Coatsworth $450.00 for the loss of his car. They had already paid him $364.40 for the loss of his car's "contents".
How much was Tubby worth?
The WSTBA reimbursed Coatsworth for the loss of his car's "contents," which would have included Tubby, a total of $364.40. Coatsworth received a separate check for $450.00 for the value of the car.
How far did Tubby fall?
We don't know exactly. From the roadway to the water the distance at mid-span was about 200 feet. But, the road was tilting wildly at the time of the collapse, so there is no way to give an exact figure.
The mystery of Tubby's bones
The exact location of Coatsworth's car (with Tubby's remains) is a mystery. The water depth near the East Pier where Coatsworth's car landed is about 125 feet. But, the swift tides of the Narrows quickly moved the car away from Galloping Gertie's ruins.