Mill City, NV Train Into Washout, Feb 1901


Winnemucca, Nev., Feb. 17. -- Six persons perished and six others were seriously injured in a disaster that occurred to Central Pacific east-bound flyer No. 2 two miles east of Mill City at an early hour this morning. While running at high speed to make up lost time the flyer crashed into a washout that had been caused by a mountain torrent. The shock came without the slightest warning, and the engine and train crews and sleeping car inmates at the forward end of the train were pinned beneath the debris of the locomotive tender and cars that were twisted into a tangled mass of wreckage in an instant by their own impetus. Of the six persons who perished, it is probable that no one had time to realize the afte that was upon them. Three of them -- MR. and MRS. ADOLPH BISSINGER and CLINTON R. COULTER -- were San Franciscans occupying berths in the forward Pullman. Of the other victims of the disaster, one was Fireman WHITAKER, who died at his post, and the others were tramps stealing a ride on the train.
At the point where the accident occurred, there is an embankment of thirty feet to a ravine down which water runs from a water shed of fifteen miles. During the past two weeks heavy and frequent snowstorms have occurred in the mountains, piling the snow into immense drifts in the canyons. This began to melt because of the unusually warm weather of Friday and Saturday.
Gangs of workmen have been laboring since yesterday morning endeavoring to keep the roadbed in the vicinity of Mill City in good condition. At 11 o'clock last night a washout was discovered a half mile west of Mill City and all energy was put toward reparing it. This was not accomplished until 4:30 o'clock this morning. Passenger trains Nos. 2 and 4 had been held at Humboldt, nine miles distant, while the break as being repaired.
Because of being late the flyer was making a fast run, endeavoring to make up time. It was going at the rate of fifty miles an hour at the time of the accident. When two miles east of Mill City it struck a new washout that evidently was caused by a mountain torrent only a short time before the train's arrival. The engine got across safely, but the tender is one mass of twisted iron, standing on and against the boilerhead of the locomotive. The trucks of the tender, together with those of the mail car and composite car, are in the torrent below. The mail car went to the left, the rear end being clear of the head end of the engine. The composite car lies across the gap of seventy-five feet and telescopes the head Pullman car nearly thirty feet.
Engineer ABBAY says that he felt the engine settling and started to get out through the window, but he had hardly moved from his seat before the crash came. How he got out he doesn't know.
Conductor MARKLE, Brakeman REEVES and the train barber were in the composite car. Brakeman REEVES jumped from a window, landing in the creek below, which was at that time about four feet deep.
MR. BISSINGER of the firm of Bissinger & Schloss, hide and tallow merchants of San Francisco, occupied a drawing room with his wife and daughter, ELSIE, at the head end of the first sleeper. This car was telescoped by the buffet. Both MR. and MRS. BISSINGER were killed, while their daughter, occupying the berth above them, was but slightly injured.

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