Friday, January 3, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 3

January 3, 1900 - Running at a high rate of speed, a Great Western passenger train leaving Minneapolis at 7:35 this evening crashed into the rear of a Northern Pacific extra stock train a short distance west of Trout Brook Junction (near what is now Oakdale) a few minutes before 8 p.m., completely demolishing the caboose, one stock car, and badly damaging the Great Western engine, while six persons in the Northern Pacific caboose were dangerously hurt.

Both trains were going in an easterly direction, though the stock train had almost come to a stop. The big Great Western engine struck the Northern Pacific caboose with a terrific crash, and ploughed its way through the stock car. The caboose was almost cleanly cut out between the engine and the stock car hurled bodily, with those inside, down a 15-foot embankment, where it lay a shattered mass of broken timbers and twisted iron, among which the imprisoned persons were struggling to escape. 

With its impetus and the force of the seven coaches behind it, the engine tore through the stock car as if it had been made of paper, literally grinding it to pieces. With the first impact of the collision the car was ripped open and fifteen head of stock within were hurled down the embankment into the wreckage of the caboose. The horses were all maimed or killed, their slaughtered carcasses presenting a revolting sight in the ravine.

There were seven persons in the caboose, six stockmen and Conductor Marks, of the stock train. All were standing near the rear of the caboose, the stockmen with their stachels in their hands, ready to get out when the train ran into the siding. When the crash came without warning they were thrown violently toward the front end of the caboose, while tearing over their heads was the roof of the stock car, like a huge sickle cutting through the caboose. As the caboose went down the ravine, the stove was overturned and the car caught on fire. Fortunately, the fire did not spread rapidly, and all of the injured were removed before suffering harm from the flames.

As soon as the passengers on the Great Western train learned that half a dozen men were pinioned beneath the wreckage of the caboose, a rescue party was formed and set to work liberating them.

The financial lost incident to the wreck will be considerable. The Great Western engine was badly damaged, while the caboose and stock car were totally demolished. The value of the horses killed is estimated at $1,000.  The passenger train was the regular No. 2 Chicago Great Western train that leaves St. Paul at 8:10 p.m., carrying two Kansas City sleepers that are cut off at Oelwein, while the stock train came through from Montana.

St. Paul Globe; “Caboose Ground to Pieces; Great Western Passenger Train Crashes Into A Northern Pacific Extra; Six Persons are Injured; Engineer and Firemen Stick to Their Posts and Thus Escape; Number of Horses Killed; Passenger Train Tears Through the Caboose as if It Had Been Made of Paper—Had Fire in Car Spread Rapidly the Fate of the Passengers Would Have Been Horrible—Officials Disinclined to Fix the Responsibility at Present—Wounded Sent to St. Paul on a Special.”; Jan. 4, 1900; pg. 1.

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