Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On This Date in Minnesota History: March 30

March 30, 1902 - The Great Northern sleeping car Moorhead was burned to the tracks this evening in Benson, Minn. The car caught fire between the stations of Willmar and Pennock. None of the eight passengers aboard were injured. The train was running about 50-miles-per-hour and before it could slow down and the car cut off, the Moorhead was a mass of flames.

The first notice of the fire was given by the engineer, who blew continuous blasts of the train’s whistle. The sleepy passengers rushed to the rear of the train to help the trainmen cut off the car. The passengers—two men, four ladies and two children—were hanging on the platforms in their night clothes, ready to jump as soon as the speed of the car allowed.

Inside of 10 minutes the burning car was a total wreck. The farmers living near came running across the prairie to see the unusual sight. The origin of the fire is unknown, but the general opinion is that it was started by a cigar stub on the carpet in the smoking-section.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Sleeping Car On Fire. Moorhead of Great Northern. Sleepy Passengers Saved in Their Night Clothes—Car a Wreck in Ten Minutes.”; March 31, 1902; p. 2.


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