100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Train Collision Kills 15 In Illinois

On July 14, 1912 for the third time in 2 weeks, a deadly train crash has occurred where idle passenger trains were struck by speeding trains that miss or ignored signals to stop. The Denver Overland Limited eastbound to Chicago was idled at Western Springs, Illinois because it had been told a train was stopped ahead. A mail train travelling to Omaha, Nebraska struck the idle Denver train at 70 miles an hour. After just descending a grade the speeding engine of the mail train plowed through the passenger cars, halving and crushing them before veering off the track. Torpedoes, explosive warning signals, were placed on the track but the mail train claims it was given an “all clear” signal. The fireman on the mail train related his story:

“We were travelling some 70 miles per hour when the engineer and I heard some torpedoes explode. Then I saw a flagman on the track about 150 feet from the train ahead. The engineer said, ‘There’s a train ahead. I’m afraid I can’t stop in time to save us but I’m going to try.’ He put his hand on the throttle and looked straight ahead. When I decided to jump I turned and looked at him and, like the brave man he was, he was still at the throttle fighting for the lives of his passengers but heading for certain death. I went clear of the engine and landed in a field. My breath left me for a few moments. When I looked up the cars were burning.

In all 15 died and 30 were wounded. Survivors were taken to La Range and it is thought ghouls have robbed the bodies because jewelry is missing and although the passengers were persons of means, no more than a dime was found among anyone’s possessions.

Train wreck site Western Springs, Illinois
July 14, 1912

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