Chatsworth, IL Train Wreck, Aug 1887
THE BRIDGE OF DEATH
A Crowded Excursion Train at Chatsworth, Ills.,
FALLS THROUGH A TRESTLE.
Heartrending Shrieks of the Wounded and Dying.
The Most Frightful Railroad Disaster in the History of the Nation Made More Horrible by the Ignition of the Cars - Graphic Statement of a Survivor of the Wreck - Robbing the Dead - Over 100 Lives Lost and 300 Injured.
CHATSWORTH, Ills., Aug. 12. -- Over 100 killed and 300 injured, perhaps a score of them fatally, is the appalling record of Wednesday night's disaster, two miles east of this little town. Before daylight yesterday morning there were sixty-five bodies laid out on the prairie, and forty or fifty were found lying wounded under some bushes not far away. Some of the latter died while being lifted up on flat cars for transportation to this village. At the wreck hundreds of men were searching for more victims, and shortly after daylight four more unrecognizable masses of human flesh and tattered clothing were found deep in the ruins. The disaster occurred just before midnight.
SCENE OF THE WRECK.
In the doomed train were sixteen cars, all but one carrying passengers, and the whole drawn by two engines. The train had left Peoria about 5 o'clock, carrying more than 600 excursionists, bound for Niagara Falls. Two miles east of this village was a little trestle on fire, which caught from the burning prairie, no longer than fifteen feet and above the ditch more than six feet. This little culvert's destruction well nigh caused the destruction of the entire train. The culvert safely bore the first engine, but the wheels of the tender caught in the sinking rails, and
A FRIGHTFUL WRECK ENSUED.
Car after car leaped the narrow chasm, and telescoped the coaches preceding. The great weight and impetus of the half dozen Pullman sleepers drove their huge frames with terrible force against the chair cars and day coaches ahead of them. Three cars were so telescoped together that it was almost impossible to tell the ruins of one from those of another. One coach entered another, splitting it and shoving all the seats and passengers into a mass into the far end, leaving the floor as clean as if swept by a knife.
In the train there were sixteen cars, first the baggage car, the the private car of Superintendent ARMSTRONG, followed by six day coaches, two chair cars and six sleepers. All of these, except the sleepers, were engulfed in the wreck.
The first sleeper stopped with its forward trucks in the ill fated culvert, like its followers, unharmed. But the nine passenger cars and the baggage car were heaped in a mass of kindling wood. In the culvert three or four of the cars left their trucks buried in the embankment one under another to a depth of eight feet. The car bodies left the trucks and hurled themselves against the cars preceding.
The disaster came absolutely without warning. Even the engineer of the first locomotive, DAVE SUTHERLAND, had no opportunity to apply the brakes before reaching the culvert, under which the flames had crept almost unobserved. The engineer of the second locomotive, EDWARD McCLINTOCK, was killed with his hand on the throttle. His body was crushed and his head is still under the engine. ABNER APPLEGREEN, his fireman, says the fire was not seen in the culvert. The first he know of the disaster there was a sort of shock and roar, which he could not understand, and he suddenly found himself waist deep in debris, his engineer
LYING HEADLESS BY HIS SIDE.
Engineer McCLINTOCK was instantly killed. Two firemen and another engineer escaped serious injury. The ten cars were piled on top of the two engines, being telescoped and piled across and on top of each other. It is miraculous how any escaped, as the coaches and engines do not occupy over two car lengths of track and all on top of the roadbed. In one coach not a person escaped; in another only a lady. Seventy dead were taken out yesterday forenoon and 100 wounded were in Chatsworth, in the town school house, depot, etc. At Piper City there are a large number of wounded - over fifty. The cars caught fire, but it was put out by the men and passengers. A heavy rain set in about two hours after the wreck.
At all stations along the line large crowds of excited people had gathered, anxious to hear the latest news from Peoria. Some wild rumors prevailed, but nothing of an authentic nature could be learned. When the relief train reached its destination it was
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