Emporia, KS Train Wreck, Sept 1897 - Train Wrecked


Twelve Killed and as Many Injured--W. J. Bryan Helps to Care for the Injured.

Emporia, Kan., Sept 9. --One of the worst wrecks in the history of the Santa Fe railway occurred three miles east of here at 7:30 last night. Twelve persons were killed and as many more badly hurt. The fast mail train going east and Mexico and California express, pulled by two locomotives, came together and when they struck the boilers of all three engines exploded and tore a hole in the ground so deep that the smoking car of the west bound train went in on top of the three engines and two mail cars and balanced there without turning over.

Passengers in the smoking car escaped through the windows. The front end of this car was enveloped in a volcano of stifling smoke and steam from the wreck below, and the rear door was slammed tight in the wrecked car behind.

The wreck caught fire from the engines and the cars in the hole and the smoking car were burned to ashes in no time.

In climbing out of the smoking car several men fell through rifts into the wreck below and it is impossible to tell whether they escaped or were burned to death.

The westbound train carried seven or eight coaches and its passengers included many excursionists who had been to hear W. J. Bryan speak at a county fair at Burlingame. Bryan himself was on the train, but was riding in a Pullman car some 400 feet from the cars which were wrecked. He states that nothing but a heavy jolt was experienced by the passengers in his coach.

Bryan was one of the noblest men in the crowd. He helped carry out the dead and wounded and gave greatest attention to their care. One poor fellow who was badly maimed called to Bryan and said, "I went to hear you today. I am dying now and I want to shake your hand and say God bless you. If you possibly can, Mr. Bryan, get me a drink of water."

Bryan went into a fast mail car, one end of which was burning, and came out with a drink of water, which he gave the suffering passenger. He brought out cushions for others of the injured, and was everywhere [illegible] to minister to the wants of the suffering.

Those who were killed or injured were mostly from Kansas City.

Of the seven or eight cars making up the train of the California express, the mail baggage and express and smoking cars were destroyed. The coach following the smoker was badly splintered. There were no more than a dozen passengers on the fast mail, all in one coach, and while none of them were seriously injured, their shaking up was terrible. Every seat in the coach was torn from the floor and many floor planks came up with the seats.

It is stated the wreck was caused by miscarriage of orders from trainmaster. At Emporia the eastbound fast mail train received orders to pass the California express at Lang, seven miles east. Another order was sent to Land for the California express to take the siding there, but this order was not delivered, and the westbound train passed on, the trainmen expecting to pass the fast mail at Emporia.

The financial loss of the wreck was $100,000.

A. B. Adams, among the injured, was on his way to Mexico from New Jersey with registered bonds amounting to $800,000, and a great deal of other valuables, which were all burned.

The following list of killed and injured is as announced by the railroad officials:
Killed: JOSEPH BRANHAN, NATE HOLLISTER, Engineers; BENJAMIN WALTER, JAMES HURLEY, EDWARD YO--------[illegible], firemen, unknown boy, stealing a ride. Missing: Joe Saurs, baggage men.

Injured: William Frisbie, engineer: W. F. Jones, W. C. McGlee, C. J. Holliday, R. O. A---[illegible] R. A. Doran, postal clerks, --- Patrick, C. A. Van Cleve, brakeman; T. J. Button, Cottonwood Falls; F. B. Walsack, Atchison passengers.

Decatur Weekly Republican, Decatur, IL 16 Sept 1897