Kingsburg, CA Train And Oil Truck Collision, Feb 1947

Break Windows.
Passengers leaped up in a panic in the combination coach-baggage car, two diners, a club car, a parlor car and eight coaches. Many broke windows and the fire raced inside, searing passengers, upholstery and luggage.
Within three minutes fire fighters from the adjacent Roma Winery were pouring water on the coaches, and Southern Pacific officials said their quick work undoubtedly limited the toll of dead and injured. City firemen soon joined the salvage action, but for several hours the train smouldered and smoked.

Everybody Helps.
The truck's trailer tank was bent around the engine's nose in a U.
Soldiers in the last coach raced through sheets of flame to aid the trapped passengers. A bus driver ran from the parallel highway, smashed windows, and helped the injured to his bus. Red Cross workers from Kingsburg, Selma, and Fresno rushed to the scene with medical supplies, coffee, and food, and railroad rescue workers were called from throughout the Los Angeles to Oakland area.
The bodies of the dead were burned crisp. The injured suffered variously from broken bones and body burns as they fought or jumped clear of the coaches. Many who leaped from windows fell into flaming pools of oil along the roadbed.
Stagg, the grand old man of football, was returning to Stockton, where he recently resigned as head coach of College of the Pacific. Although he was unharmed, eight members of the 14-player San Francisco Shamrocks hockey team were hospitalized.
Dr. R. W. Binkley of Selma said two were burned so critically they might never play hockey again. The Shamrocks' game with Fresno last night was canceled.
After more than two yearas without a major rail disaster on California lines, the accident was Southern Pacific's second in 18 days within a 75-mile stretch of track. On January 17 the southbound Owl hit a broken rail at Lerdo. Eight persons were killed and more than 100 injured.

San Mateo Times California 1947-02-05


Kingsburg crash

A Facebook friend sent me a bundle of official SP photos from this accident. I've worked a good part of my 38 year career with SP/UP and never heard about this accident. If you're interested in seeing the photos check out the facebook group "We Love History!". I'll be posting them in the next few days.

Late husband was a member of the San Francisco Shamrocks

My late husband Bernie McCarthy was playing for S.F.Shamrocks and was on that train. We were not married until 1985 but he told me the story. He was playing cards with some fellow teammates, all of them relaxed, in their stocking feet when the crash occurred. They broke windows and helped people to escape. On the opposite side to where he broke windows and escaped with cut hands the people who tried to get out there got trapped between a chain link fence and the train surrounded by flames and most perished. One of his teammates lost an ear and others were badly injured. They were on their way up to either Seattle or New Westminster for a championship game. The Pacific Coast Hockey League lent them players from other teams to replace the injured players so they could finish the tournament. Needless to say they lost. The following year when he played for San Diego Skyhawks they won the Championship. After the crash he was taken by Red Cross, given a pair of slippers and coffee and was charged $2.00 for that. He was so angry at having to pay for that coffee that over the years he would NEVER donate anything to Red Cross! He had also played for L.A. Monarchs in the late '40's. When the PCHL disbanded in 1950 he was hired by AT&SF Railway and put in over 25 yrs., before having a heart attack on the job and was forced to retire .

Oil tanker truck hit by Kingsburg, Feb., 1940.

I was walking home along the railroad tracks when this accident occurred. I was only six years old at the time but I distinctly remember a Black porter, throwing an infant out of the broken windows of one of the burning train cars whom rescuers caught! It was one of the biggest tragedies to have ever happened in such a small town.