Friday, September 15, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: September 15

September 15, 1901 – Running 40 miles an hour, today, with a dead engineer at the throttle, freight train No. 69, westbound on the Milwaukee Road, crashed into the third section of eastbound train No. 66 at Eggleston, 12 miles from Red Wing.

Milwaukee Rode Logo1

Engineer Saxe of Minneapolis and Fireman Koethe of La Crosse, both on No. 69, were killed outright.

On train No. 66, Engineer W. A. Percy of Minneapolis had a shoulder dislocated, Brakeman Colby of Minneapolis was thrown a long distance into Vermillion slough and so seriously injured that he may die, and Brakeman H. C. Arne was hurt. He is expected to recover.

At the coroner’s inquest today, Conductor J. D. Trusome of Minneapolis, who was in charge of no. 69, said he received orders at Red Wing to meet No. 66 at Eggleston and No. 70 at East Hastings. He showed the orders to Saxe, who read them aloud and said he understood them.

Eggleston Train Depot2

When nearing Eggleston, the conductor noticed that the train was running faster than it should and he and his head brakeman applied the brakes.
A moment later the crash came. Both engines were demolished and 13 cars ditched. The third car on No. 69 was an empty box car, which jumped clear over the cars ahead of it and the two engines and rolled into the ditch 20 feet below.

Engineer Saxe and his fireman were found under the wreck; the engineer was cut into fragments.

This was fireman Koethe’s first trip over this division. He was 20 years old and had been employed on construction work on another part of the road.

Engineer Percy of train No. 66, eastbound, waited on the main track according to orders. He saw No. 69 come tearing down upon him and, hoping to avert an accident, backed up his train. However, he was too late; the westbound train crashed into him.

How he escaped, he doesn’t know, as he did not regain consciousness until physicians had worked over him for three hours. His right shoulder was dislocated. Brakeman Colby was thrown into Vermillion slough and may be fatally hurt.

The general opinion is that Engineer Saxe died of failure after leaving Red Wing. He did not blow the whistle nor shut off the steam when approaching Eggleston and railroad men are confident that he was dead before the collision. His fireman, having never been over the line, could not be expected to notice the engineer’s failure to whistle or shut off steam when approaching the station.

Traffic was blockaded for hours and several trains were sent over Burlington tracks.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Wreck at Red Wing. Engineer E. W. Saxe Was Dead at the Throttle. Accident of the Milwaukee. Freight No. 69 Crashes Into the Third Section of the Eastbound Train.”; Sept. 16, 1901; p. 2.




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