Alhambra, IL Boys Save Train from Burning Bridge, Jul 1903

Boys Avert Train Wreck.

Find a Bridge Burning on the Illinois Central Road and Flag an Approaching Express.
Special to The New York Times.

Alhambra, Ill., July 18.-Two boys averted a terrible wreck with the probable loss of dozens of lives by flagging the early morning express on the Illinois Central before it ran on the bridge across Silver Creek, which had been partially burned away, three miles north of here yesterday.

The boys JOHN and WILLIAM BILF, twelve and fourteen years old, respectively, who live on a farm near the creek, were on their way to a neighbor’s when they saw smoke issuing from the bridge some little distance from them. About middle way out they discovered that forty feet of the structure had been burned away and the bridge was still in flames. They knew that the fast express would be along in a few minutes, and if it were allowed to run on the bridge it would surely go down in midstream, with great loss of life. It must be stopped, they both knew it, and they set about their important task.

They had no flag, but that trifle was soon mended. John tore up his shirt and tied it to a staff. Then together they ran to the track to meet the train. About half a mile from the bridge they heard the oncoming train, so, taking their position in the middle of the track they began to wave the flag as the train came in view.

The engineer was quick to perceive the signal and threw on the brakes stopping the train within a few yards of the bridge. The engineer, conductor, and many of the passengers thanked the boys for their heroism. The two boys are members of a family of thirteen children.

It is supposed that the fire was caused by coals from the firepan of a passing engine.

The New York Times, New York, NY 19 Jul 1903