Gardner Station, IL Train Wreck, Jul 1867

The Collision on the Chicago, Alton and St. Louis Railroad-Three Men Killed and Many Wounded.

From the Springfield (Ill.) Journal, July 13.

At about 1:30 yesterday morning a terrible accident occurred at a point about one and half miles north of Gardner Station, on the Chicago, Alton and St. Louis Railroad, caused by a collision between the passenger train from Chicago, and a cattle train of about twenty-one cars, bound for Chicago. From a gentleman who was a passenger aboard the train, we learn the following particulars about the terrible affair:

The passenger car consisting of three cars besides the sleeping car, filled with passengers, on approaching the bridge, about one and half miles north of Gardner, ran into a cattle train of twenty-one cars, which, as we are informed, was running out of time and endeavoring to reach the next station, contrary to orders. At the time of the collision the locomotive of the cattle train was just emerging from the north end of the bridge, and at the point where there is an embankment of about ten feet in height, flanked on either side by swampy grounds. The collision was terrible beyond description, making a complete wreck of both engines, pushing the tender over into the next cattle car, and throwing the first passenger car, which became detached, down the embankment into the swamp. This car, which had on board more passengers than could be seated, consisted principally of laborers on their way to work on the Jacksonville and Bloomington railroad, caught fire and was totally destroyed, and yet, singular to relate, only one person, whose name is unknown, lost his life, and he was burned to death, having probably been caught in the wreck of seats and other matter.

In a few moments after the collision the United States express car caught fire, and was entirely destroyed, and nearly all of its contents, consisting of a great variety of packages and cash in the safe, amounting to about $30,000. The baggage car also took fire, and, together with most of the baggage, shared the fate of the express car. Our informant thinks that a small portion of the baggage was saved.

On clearing the wreck and searching for the injured, the casualties were to be found nearly as follows: Mr. H.F. MOULTON, conductor of the passenger train, was seriously, but not fatally injured; Mr. PORTER D. HATHAWAY, baggage master, was fatally injured, and it was thought he could live but a few hours; JAMES BRANCH, a brakeman on the passenger train, was instantly killed by being crushed to a jelly between two cars. He leaved a wife and three children, who reside at Joliet. The stranger referred to above was burned to a mere skeleton, and beyond recognition, but it supposed he was a workman, on his way to Bloomington. About thirty-five or forty persons were more or less injured, all of whom it is thought will recover.

The conductor and fireman of the cattle train, on seeing that a collision was inevitable, saved themselves by jumping from the train. The principal officer of the train being killed. The duty of taking care of the wounded devolved upon the passengers, among whom was Dr. MCFARLAND, of Jacksonville, all of whom went to work as best they could to relieve the suffering, and accomplished wonders under the circumstances. The cattle train, consisting of twenty-one cars, contained 240 head of cattle, belonging to H.R. SMITH, of this county. Several of the cattle were killed and quite a number badly bruised, but the exact number we did not learn.

A train made up at Bloomington proceeded to the scene of the accident, took on board the passengers, and proceeded to St. Louis, passing through this city about 1 o’clock yesterday afternoon. The regular afternoon train from Chicago arrived only about one hour behind time. By a special telegram, we learn that Mr. D.C. HICKMAN, who had charge of the cattle, was injured, but not seriously. This is the most serious accident that has ever occurred this well-managed road, and the only collision, we believe, which has caused the death of any passenger among the thousands passing over this line annually.

The New York Times, New York, NY 18 Jul 1867