Bagley, UT Train Wreck, Dec 1944
Pacific Limited Crash Claims 48 Lives
Southern Pacific Trains Collide; 79 Reported Hurt
Fog Reported at Bagley, Scene Of Railway Wreck
An unusually long and heavy freight train lumbered out of Ogden early Sunday morning moving westward toward Great Salt lake.
Later, the first section of the Pacific Limited, consisting of 18 cars, most of them filled with passengers, military and civilian, departed, following the freight train.
Shortly thereafter, the second section of the Pacific limited, 20 cars loaded with express and mail and, it is reported, two cars of explosives, followed the first section.
The freight train developed trouble.
This trouble required the first section of the limited to stop and then proceed slowly.
The second section, seemingly ignorant of the conditions ahead, plunging westward at a normal rate of speed, plowed into the slowly moving first section, causing one of the nation's greatest train wrecks.
48 Reported Dead
The latest estimate is 48 dead and 79 injured.
The scene of the wreck was at Bagley, a siding 17 miles west of Ogden, between Little Mountain and Promontory Point. The Southern Pacific tracks here are laid on a causeway over what is described as the old Bear River channel. On either side of the right of way are desolate mud and pools of water. No highway is near. All rescue work had to be done through on-rail equipment.
The numerous ambulances available to transport the injured could not reach the scene but had to wait at the terminal in Ogden to receive their charges.
The first section of the Pacific Limited, train No. 21, had for its crew the following: Engineer W. B. WARE, Fireman L. E. CAMPBELL, Conductor V. W. KOVARIK, Brakeman J. E. BARROW and Flagman W. S. DUERDEN.
The second section crew consisted of Engineer JAMES McDONALD, Fireman M. E. HARDMAN, Conductor J. W. WELCH, Brakeman D. E. ALTMAN and Brakeman C. A. RUSSELL.
Engineer McDONALD was dead in the crash. Fireman HARDMAN escaped with injuries.
Flagman DUERDEN of the first section is dead of injuries received in the wreck.
Accordingly, Fireman HARDMAN is the man who knows most about why the second section of No. 21 plowed into the first section seemingly unmindful of the warning signals that should have been placed at the rear of the first section, probably by Flagman DUERDEN.
Heavy Fog Reported.
There was a report of heavy fog at the time of the wreck, approximately six o'clock a. m., but it is understood that the warning signals were noted by Fireman HARDMAN, who shouted a warning to Engineer McDONALD.
There was a growing belief in railroad circles today that Engineer McDONALD was incapacitated, perhaps dead, prior to the collision.
Today the United States mail is still lying beside the tracks at the scene of the Southern Pacific Limited wreck. Army and navy crews are still standing by waiting to remove any possible bodies still pinned beneath the wreckage. West and eastbound trains are passing at a limited speed of five miles per hour, with every available man with the Southern Pacific railroad pressed into service. Only one track has been cleared for traffic.
Railroad officials refused to hazard a guess as to the cause of the accident but ordered an immediate investigation.
Federal bureau of investigation agents disclosed a preliminary inquiry showed no evidence of sabotage.
MRS. A. G. FERRIS of Cheroke, Iowa, en route with her husband to visit a daughter, MRS. EARL SMITH, at Berkeley, Calif., said the crash came "as quick as you could clap your hands."
"After the first shock, children started to cry and people got all excited," she said.
MRS. CLIFFORD MOSS, of Ogden, riding in the last pullman car of the passenger section, said she "heard a terrible crash. The car twisted up into the air on its nose. Then for a while I didn't know anything. When I came to people were running about outside, screaming."
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