Onawa, ME Train Wreck, Dec 1919


Freight and Negro Immigrant Special in Head-on Collision in Maine.


Many of the Dead and Injured Burned---Engineers of Both Trains Among the Dead.

ONAWA, Me., Dec. 20.---Twenty-three deaths resulted from a head-on collision between an immigrant train and a freight train on the Canadian Pacific Railway two miles west of Onawa station today. Seventeen persons were killed outright and six died after being removed from the scene of the wreck. Fifty passengers were injured, many of them seriously.

Fred Wilson and William Bagley, engineers, and Henniger and Hutchins, firemen, of the trains, are among the dead. Six of the other victims were children. Fourteen bodies had been taken from the wreckage tonight. Those of the engineers and one of the firemen had not been recovered.

The passenger train was running as the third section of the immigrant special, two sections of which had passed the freight while it was on a siding. On board were a few returned Canadian soldiers and nearly 300 immigrants, mostly English and Scotch, who were landed from the steamer Empress of France at St. John, N. B., yesterday. The had come over in the steerage, but most of them were well dressed and had a large quantity of baggage, all of which was destroyed in the wreck.

So far as could be learned tonight, the collision resulted from a misunderstanding of orders given to Bagley, engineer of the freight train. The fact that the train was running in three sections is believed to have led to this confusion, the engineer apparently thinking that he had a clear track when he left the siding.

The engine and the first two cars of the passenger train were telescoped by the freight. The wreckage caught fire and two coaches and the baggage car were burned. A special train was rushed to the scene and most of those seriously injured were taken to Brownville Junction. There they received treatment in the railroad Y. M. C. A. building. More than half of hem were suffering from broken limbs or severe injuries to the body. After receiving first aid twenty of them were sent to Bangor on a special train tonight and placed in hospitals there. Six of the most seriously injured remained in Onawa tonight, their condition being too critical to permit removal.

The New York Times, New York, NY 21 Dec 1919