St. Paul, MN Circus Train Accident, Oct 1885



St. Paul, Oct. 4 -- A Fergus Falls Special to the Pioneer Press says:
At 8 o'clock this morning, while JOHN ROBINSON'S circus train, in two sections, was coming into this city from Wahpeton, on the Northern Pacific Railroad, about four miles west of this city, a coupling broke and the rear seven cars of the first section ran down the steep grade into the engine of the second section at a rate of 40 miles an hour. The caboose and two sleeping cars, containing 160 sleeping men, composed a portion of the section which had broken loose. The engineer of the approaching train stopped his engine, and he and the fireman jumped and were saved, but had not time to reverse, and both sections crashed into each other, killing 5 men outright, fatally injuring 3, and injuring 10 or 12 others slightly.

The watchman of the train, trying to warn the sleeping men of the danger of the collision, was killed himself, refusing to desert, although aware that a collision was inevitable. He was frightfully mangled; his heart was found on top of a flat car some distance away, his bowels lying on the ground, and his body cut to pieces. The other men were mangled almost beyond recognition; EAGLES, the boss hostler, will probably die. He is injured internally. WILLIAM WINGOLD, of the lamp department, has one side of his head badly cut, and other injuries. No performers or animals were hurt.

The men killed were the watchman, WILSON, and four canvasmen. The engine was badly smashed and cars reduced to kindling wood. The remarkable fact is that more were not killed and injured. Twenty or thirty others received slight cuts and bruises. The list of killed is: ROBERTS, canvasman, joined at Wadena on the way to Cincinnati; WILLIAM KROUSE, lived at Cincinnati; SAM BLAIR, joined at Colfax; JAMES WILSON, watchman, formerly policeman at Cincinnati. The injured men were removed to the hospital at Brainerd and a Coroner's inquest will be held to-morrow.

The New York Times New York 1885-10-05