Cascade Tunnel, WA Freight Wreck, Feb 1917



One of the most disastrous and expensive freight wrecks on the Great Northern occurred at the west portal of Cascade Tunnel Monday evening between six and seven o'clock. Engineer CHARLES DEAN stayed with his engine and was killed, his body being found in the cab of the engine under the wreckage. Fireman E. V. NELSON jumped after the train emerged from the runnel and had his ankle broken, but was not otherwise seriously hurt. He was brought here Tuesday morning, where his family resides, and taken to the Leavenworth Hospital. Brakeman O'NEIL also remained with the train and had his arm and one leg broken and chest crushed. He died Tuesday.
The statement printed in the Wenatchee World that CHARLES DEAN is a son of Harry Dean, a verteran G. N. engineer, is an error. CHARLES DEAN is no relative of Harry Dean. Harry Dean's son is a fireman.
The wrecked train was an extra west bound, loaded with valuable merchandise, and the loss to the road will be heavy. When it reached the east portal it was split in two and the front section with a 1900 engine attached started thru the tunnel. Something went wrong with the air brakes and by the time it reached the west portal it was going more than sixty miles an hour. Just beyond the west portal of the tunnel is a derailing switch intended to make just such wrecks impossible by running the train up a steep incline. This switch is supposed to be open at all times and only opened for main line use after all trains come to a dead stop when thru the tunnel. For some reason not yet explained this switch was so arranged that the oncoming train took the main line track and sped on down the grade to destruction. It only went a short distance when the engine left the rails at the end of a snow shed, and the balance of the train, some thirty-five cars, piled up on top of the engine, tearing away two sections of the snow shed, which at this point is made of reinforced concrete. Men who viewed the wreck say they never saw such a pile of wreckage before, though used to seeing railroad wrecks. The pile, some six or eight car lengths, and thirty of forty feet high, was a mass of splintered wood, merchandise, iron and broken concrete. In the cab of the engine, under a mass of wredkage, the body of Engineer DEAN was found some hours after the work of clearing the track begun.
The conductor and one brakeman were in the caboose, and though badly shaken up were not seriously injured. Why the men did not all jump is answered by some of the men who survived the wreck. They say when the train emerged from the tunnel it was going at the rate of over fifty miles per hour and there are few places where one can jump in the region where the wreck occurred without incurring as much danger as staying with the train and taking chances. NELSON simply hit a soft place in the snow and escaped being killed as he surely would have been had he remained on the engine with DEAN.
No regular trains arrived here between Monday evening and Thursday evening. East and west bound passenger trains were routed over the Northern Pacific. A train was madeup in Spokane Tuesday and came in here on 43's time, then turned and left for Spokane in an hour.

Leavenworth Echo Washington 1917-02-23