Seneca, MI Head-On Train Collision, Nov 1901

Sifting Wreckage for Bodies One of the Ruined Engines



Disaster Due to Violation of Orders -- Relief Special Sent from Detroit -- Mangled Bodies Scattered Along the Track.

Special to The New York Times.
Detroit, Nov. 27 -- As the result of a head-on collision on the Wabash Railroad one mile from Seneca, Mich., at 6:45 o'clock this evening, 100 passengers, most of whom were immigrants, lost their lives. The list of the injured will probably reach 50.
There were 141 passengers on Train No. 13, including 20 first-class passengers from Detroit. On No. 4 there were about 30 Chicago and St. Louis passengers bound through to New York and other eastern points. Train No. 13 consisted of a baggage car and two day coaches filled with immigrants bound from New York to Western points, and two Pullmans.
The immigrants were transferred from train No. 13 this afternoon in Detroit and were packed into the day coaches like sardines. Wabash officials in Detroit estimate that the greater loss of life occurred in these coaches, which were light. Meagre advices state that the baggage car and coach next to it were smashed into splinters and afterward caught fire, creating a holocaust in which the dying found a fiery death. The third coach was telescoped as well as part of the next car, which was a Pullman.
The twenty Detroit passengers, it is said, with but one or two exceptions, occupied seats in the Pullman car, and it is not thought that the list of killed and wounded will include many of them. No. 4 consisted of a baggage car and a combination coach and sleeper. Most of the passengers were in the Pullman. The officials here believe that the loss of life on No. 4 will be heavy.
Thirty-two doctors from this city have gone to the wreck. The track at the point where the collision occurred was straight, and at first the officials could not understand how the accident could have happened. No. 13, which ordinarily is due to leave Detroit at 2:20 o'clock, was two hours late leaving here at 4:20.
The two trains met at Montpelier, Ohio, according to schedule, but to-day, according to reports, No. 4 had orders to wait for No. 13 at Seneca. The blame is therefore placed on the conductor or engineer of No. 4. Had this train been held at Seneca the accident would not have happened. Train No. 4 was due at Seneca at 6:43, according to the change in schedule, but apparently orders to wait were disobeyed and the probabilities are that the true story of why will never be told, as the train crews undoubtedly met instant death.

Continued on Page 2.