Salem, OH Railroad Accident At Wells Junction, Mar 1884



Pittsburg, March 20. -- This morning, shortly before daylight, the Chicago limited express met with an accident near Salem, Ohio, by which two persons lost their lives and nine others, six of them passengers, were injured. The train was running at the rate of 40 miles an hour, and when Franklin Hill was reached the engine left the tracks and went down an embankment 30 feet. The smoker and baggage car followed, but the rest of the train remained at a standstill. Almost immediately the boiler of the engine exploded, and JAMES RICHARDS, the engineer, and CHARLES RHODES, the fireman, were hurled a distance of 400 yards and killed instantly. The wrecked cars took fire, but were extinguished without any difficulty. As soon as those in the other cars had recovered from the shock the search for the dead and wounded among the ruins was commenced. The bodies of RICHARDS and RHODES were found 400 yards away terribly mangled. The injured were: MR. E. A. RICH, Chicago, badly bruised and cut on the head; MRS. DEAN, Chicago, right arm bruised; MRS. ROCH, also of Chicago, muscle of right arm cut; MR. NEWCOMBE, of Atchison, Kan., right foot badly bruised; E. G. NORTHAM, of Philadelphia, slight wound on foot and face scratched; FRED MATHER, also of Philadelphia, slightly bruised in the face; CHARLES BASIEL, baggage-master, cut on the head and face; WILLIAM LANDIS, brakeman, body bruised and several severe contusions on face; colored porter Pullman sleeper, name unknown, badly bruised and cut. Word was immediately sent to this city, and a train with physicians was quickly dispatched to the scene of the disaster. The train arrived at 11 o'clock, and the passengers were transferred to it and brought to this city, arriving here about 2:30 o'clock.
WILLIAM JOHNSTON, one of the passengers, said that the wreck was caused by the boiler exploding while the train was going at a very high rate of speed. It was a point known as Wells Junction, two miles east of Salem, Ohio. The engine was reduced to small sections of cast-iron, which were scattered for many hundred yards from the scene. Engineer RICHARDS was blown quite a distance in the air, and while descending his body alighted on the network of telegraph wires suspended at the side of the track, where it hung for a few seconds, only to fall a bruised and mangled mass of human flesh by the side of the track. The fireman was found at the base of the hill bruised and mangled. Immediately after the boiler exploded the smoker and one sleeper left the rails, and, together with all that remained of the engine, rolled down the embankment at the side of the track, a distance of about 25 feet. The other four cars comprising the train remained on the track, but all were more or less damaged, the last car, which was a sleeper, being derailed and torn from its trucks by the shock.
MR. RICH, of Chicago, who was among the injured, stated that at the time of the accident he was sleeping in the first sleeper. The first intimation of danger that he had was when he heard a loud report and found himself thrown out on the floor of the car. He then felt the car turning over and rolling, he could not imagine where, and when it finally stopped at the foot of the hill he got on his feet , and it was only after helping the injured out of the car, from some portions of which an exit had to be made through the windows, that he found himself to be injured.

The New York Times New York 1884-03-21