Fountain, CO Train Wreck & Explosion, May 1888


A Frightful Explosion at the Little Town of Fountain.

From the Denver Republican.
The little town of Fountain, thirteen miles southeast of Colorado Springs, was the scene Monday morning of one of the most horrible catastrophes in the history of the state.

Five people are now dead, others are dying, and fifteen or twenty are injured.

About 2 o'clock Monday morning a caboose and four freight cars became detached from freight train No. 31 on the Santa Fe passenger train No. 7 had just stopped. There was not time to avert the danger, and the freight cars came crushing with terrible velocity upon the passenger engine. By a miracle, almost, none of those on the passenger train were seriously injured, although they had a severe jolting up.

One of the freight cars contained an oil tank, some say naptha, which burst and took fire, spreading to the other cars and depot. A man whose name is FRANK SHIPMAN and supposed to have been on the caboose was found burnt to a crisp in the wreck. The other calamities occurred later, when the flames reached one of the freight cars, containing 17,000 pounds of dynamite. It was not known until about five minutes before the explosion that there was any giant powder in this car, and the warning given to belated passengers and citizens in those brief moments saved a great loss of life, though it is terrible as it is.

Fountain was shaken as by an earthquake and there is not a house in town that has not received more or less damage. Buildings were hurled to the ground, maining[sic] inmates, while those in the streets were seeking shelter and fleeing from the debris of steel rains, railroad ties, carwheels and pieces of lumber that filled the air as though a cyclone had the little city in its trail.

Relief trains were sent from Pueblo and Colorado Springs, and every attention possible given the many who had been injured.

The damage to property in Fountain, is estimated at $50,000 and the Santa Fe will probably sustain a loss from all sources of about $100,000.

The following is the list of the killed and wounded:
CHARLES F. SMITH, aged 35, and formerly of Keokuk, Iowa. Run through by a piece of steel.
An unknown, but now supposed to be FRANK SHIPMAN. Burnt to a crisp in the wreck.
MRS. F. P. WIDRIG, a widow with one son; milliner. Struck in base of skull by flying bolt.
LAURENCE WEIBURT, carpenter. Leaves wife and family. Hit in head by piece of steel.
H. W. HUTCHING, merchant. Leaves family. Struck by a piece of iron.
WILLIAM WALTER LOOMIS, aged 16, fractured leg and internal injuries, leg amputated, condition critical.
CHARLES S. HATCH, badly injured in hip.
MRS. J. M. HATCH, injured in face and body and shoulder bruised.
MRS. T. D. LUMBECK, body bruised.
MISS MAMIE HINCH, body bruised.
MR. L. BELL, fractured arm and broken ankle.
H. P. BOSWORTH, fractured collar bone and ankle.
H. MURRAY, cut in head and face.
MRS. CAME, bodily injuries from falling door.
DR. E. O. WALLS, Colorado Springs, cut in head and body by glass.
J. F. JAMES, fractured arm.
A. J. BENEDICT, bruised head and limb.
MRS. A. J. BENEDICT, bruised leg.
MRS. FRED EUBANKS, bruised nead.
E. H. KIRK, Kansas City, cut if head.
JOE PATTEN, cut in hip.

There are many others who have received slight wounds and scratches, but none of them serious.
There is not a house in Fountain that has not received some damages. Business houses and dwellings are all included in the list. Stocks of goods were hurled into the middle of the floor. Only an estimate can be made at present, but it is claimed that the loss at Fountain will amount to $50,000, and that the damage sustained by the Sante Fe in the destruction of cars, engine, depot, freight and other property will aggregate between $75,000 and $100,000. The engine is a total loss. Four hundred feet of track was torn up, the water tank badly damaged, about a dozen freight cars burnt and a large number badly wrecked. Among the buildings damaged in the town are the following:

Baptist Church, totally demolished, $1,500.
NEWTON Lumber Yard Company, near the explosion, $5,000.
School house, badly damaged, $1,000.
O. L. LOOMIS, farm-house, barn, store, etc. $3,000.
MITCHELL house, $500.
TRELOAR & McCOLLIN, Fountain House, $1,000.
REV. MR. STAMP, house, $500.
B. PITKIN, house, $100.
W. H. HODGES, editor Dispatch, $800.
H. A. CROUCH, house, $200.
Free Methodist church, $300.
F. D. ROSE, general merchandise, $7,000; building, $1,000.
T. K. CELL, agricultural implements, $1,000.
A. E. AMES, butcher, $100.
A. J. BENNETT, postmaster, $1,000.
DONNELLY & PATTON, merchants, $1,300.
FRED EUBANKS, house $500.
H. W. HUTCHINS, $4,000.
H. W. PERKINS, barn $800.

These are illustrations of the losses which are general throughout the city. The amount of insurance is not known, but is thought not to be large.

White Pine Cone Colorado 1888-05-18