Tucumcari, NM Train Plunges Into Flooded Arroyo, Aug 1933

SIX DEAD, 40 HURT IN TRAIN WRECK.

COACHES PLUNGE INTO STREAM WHERE BRIDGE CRUMPLED.

Crack Passenger Limited Piles Up Near Tucumcari, New Mexico; Only Engineer Identified; Others Dead Are Passengers; High Water Cause.

Tucumcari, N. M., Aug 29 (AP) -- Six persons were killed and 40 others were being treated in hospitals and improvised first aid wards in hotels and private homes, following the wreck of the crack Golden State Limited trans-continental passenger train five miles west of here at dawn today.
The train plunged through a washed-out bridge into a water-filled arroyo, the engine and six coaches tumbling down the sides of the high hill into the gulch.
The east span of the steel bridge had been crumpled by a torrent resulting from heavy rains climaxed by a four-inch fall last night.
The only identified body was that of C. J. CROST of Tucumcari, the engineer. The other dead were three women and two men, all passengers in the first day coach.
Five Pullman coaches remained on the bridge. The train was traveling about 20 miles an hour, railroad officials said, as it was feared the fill might have been weakened by the heavy rains.
Torrential Rains.
A wrecker was sent to the scene from El Paso, and ambulances were called from as far away as Amarillo, 125 miles distant.
The Golden State Limited is operated by the Rock Island over Southern Pacific lines west of Tucumcari, and over Rock Island lines east to Chicago.
It was reported that the front part of the train, which included the day coaches, plunged into deep water, but the Pullman coaches apparently were in shallower water.
A four-inchrain was reported to have fallen at Tucumcari last night, following heavy rains last week. The section where the train fell into the water is in comparatively shallow grazing and desert country.
Few Hurt Seriously.
By 9:30 o'clock 45 survivors of the wreck had been brought into Tucumcari, the Rock Island was advised. Many were not seriously injured and after receiving first aid treatment were put to bed in hotels, hospitals or private homes.
T. F. WHEELOCK, mail clerk, escaped without serious injuries. He was unable to give any detrails of the wreck.
The Rock Island was advised the swollen Perta creek had carried out the east approach to the bridge and that track fro three rails length was torn up.
The engine plunged into the creek bottom, an on top of it piled the other seven cars including the baggage, mail car, day coach, tourist Pullman, club car and two standard Pullmans.
Traffic over the Rock Island lines between here and Tucumcari was ordered suspended today due to the torrential rains which may have endangered other trestles.
Previous Accident.
Three years ago there was a dangerous underpass at this point on U. S. highway 68, and three tourists were swept off the paving under the railroad bridge to death, when a sudden torrent of water peculiar to New Mexico trapped them. Since then a high fill for both the railroad and highway, with bridges has been built there.
The railroad embankment at the point where it crossed the ordinarily dry wash is about 30 or 40 feet high, but the bridge is short.
The Golden State Limited is the best train on the Southern Pacific-Rock Island system.
It makes the run between Los Angeles and Chicago in 62 hours.
Engine Under Water.
The engine is under water in the deepest part of the ravine. The mail car is on top of the engine and the baggage car is at 45-degree angele to the track beside the mail car. The next car, a coach, is crossways of the creek bed partially on top of the baggage car and a Pullman tourist sleeper is crossways of the creek. All these are on the south side of the fill.
On the north side is a club car in the bed of the creek along with a standard coach which is on its side. The head end of another standard coach which is on its side. The head end of another standard coach is the only other car off the rails the remaining Pullman coaches remaining on the bridge.
Help From El Paso.
It is not known whether any bodies have been swept down in the torrent, or whether they are lodged in the wreckage.
A wrecking train was sent from El Paso, and a bridge building crew was dispatched from the Cloudcroft line to aid in making repairs.
Tucumcari is 315 miles from El Paso.
ARTHUR W. DEPEW, El Paso, was the conductor on the train.
H. S. FAIRBANK, Southern Pacific Rio Grande division superintendent left El Paso in an airplane for the scene of the wreck to direct the rescue work.
Flood waters wrecked telegraph lines and El Paso railroad officials were unable to obtain complete details.

The Abilene Daily Reporter Texas 1933-08-29

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PROBE TRAIN WRECK KILLING 8, INJURING 44

LIMITED PLUNGES THROUGH A BRIDGE NEAR TUCUMCARI

Six of Eight Bodies Recovered Are Identified; Injured Taken Into Town After Rescue From Wreckage; Ambulances, Embalmers Called From Other Points.

Tucumcari, N. M., Aug. 29 (AP) -- A board of inquiry will sit here Wednesday morning in a thorough investigation of the wreck of the Golden State Limited, transcontinental train, which cost at least eight lives and injured 44 persons. The train plunged into a roaring arroyo five miles west of here just before sunrise Tuesday morning.
Railroad officials and members of the New Mexico state corporation will comprise the board which will inquire into the loss of a concrete and street bridge, 100 feet long, regarded as one of the strongest bridges on the line. In was constructed in 1914.
Bodies of all the known dead had been recovered Tuesday night and all but two women had been tentatively identified. The body of JAMES RANDALL of Tucumcari, fireman, was found early Tuesday night under the engine. All the bodies were taken to a mortuary here.
Sister MARY CECELIA of Tuscon, Ariz., one of the injured died in a hospital Tuesday afternoon, increasing the death list to eight.
The Tucumcari hospital and Randle hotel were caring for 36 of the 44 injured.
All available doctors were ministering aid.
Torrential rains followed by cloudbursts massed water in sloping hills to sweep aside bridges in the torrent's mad rush to lower levels, tore highways asunder and so weakened a railroad bridge that a train barely moving was precipitated into the rushing flood.
The locomotive, baggage and mail cars and five coaches went into the gap where the bridge had been. Five Pullmans remained on the track, a silent signal to a passing air mail pilot that something was amiss.
Known Dead.
The known dead were in the Dunn mortuary. Six of them had been identified tentatively. They were:
Sister CECELIA, of Tucson, Ariz.
MRS. W. H. VAELEY.
P. D. COOK, bridge inspector for the Southern Pacific railroad, home not learned.
O. J. CROFTS, Tucumcari, engineer of the train.
JAMES RANDALL, of Tucumcari, fireman.
The other two victims were women and had not been identified. The best description available from the mortuary was that one was elderly, probably 55 years of age; and the other a large woman.
Relief Train Arrives.
A relief train bringing physicians and nurses arrived here late Tuesday from El Paso to aid local hospitals in administering to the injured.
Of the injured, Sister MARY ROSA, Tuscon, was not expected to live. She suffered a lateral skull fracture, deep cuts in the head, and was badly scalded. All the others were expected to recover.
Those who were able left for the east on a special train late today.
Southern Pacific officials said everything "within out power" was being done to provide comfort for the injured.
Embalmers Arrive.
Two embalmers from each Las Vegas and Amarillo arrived here Tuesday afternoon to assist the Dunn mortuary in preparing the bodies of the wreck victims for burial. They were forced to walk part of the way, carrying embalming fluid and instruments as automobile travel was impossible and no horses were immediately available.
A call was sent to Albuquerque for embalmers and supplies but aviators there refused to fly to Tucumcari because of the condition of the landing field.
The engine and six coaches hurtled into the flood waters, swollen by four inches of rain Monday night. Five sleeping cars remained upright on the broken bridge.
The wreck was an hour old before railroad officials and towns people in Tucumcari learned of it. The news was brought here shortly before 5 o'clock by CHAUNCEY DEPEW, conductor, who struggled for help through waist deep water which flooded a concrete highway in spots.
He reported the accident to railroad officials summoned physicians and nurses, and went back to the scene to help in rescue work.
Roads Almost Impassable.
Ambulances motor cars and trusks soon were hurrying to the scene over almost impassable roads, men and women in the rescue party carrying first aid equipment from their homes.
Many of the passengers had clambered up the steep walls of the canyon or had sought safety from the swirling waters on the tops of partly submerged cars.
As the men and women from Tucumcari discovered the injured they were wrapped in blankets or placed on boards and carefully hoisted up the steep embankment. They were rushed here for treatment. The town, however, has only one hospital with sixteen beds. The most seriously injured were kept at the hospital, while the others were assigned to first aid wards established in Tucumcari's two hotels and private homes.
Railroad officials said Engineer CROFT was proceeding cautiously through the flooded district when the train fell into the trap. CROFT died instantly. The wreck occurred on the Southern Pacific tracks over which the limited is operated until it reaches the Rock Island lines at Tucumcari.
Railroad officials said Tuesday the train had been halted a mile west of the point of disaster as a precautionary measure, then had proceeded slowly ahead.
The bridge is over an arroyo approximately 40 feet deep at the greatest depth. Residents here said a wall of water about 30 feet high had swept down the arroyo, weakening the foundations of the bridge. After the first wall, the back waters deepened the arroyo.
According to best available information, the bridge was standing when the train started across it, but it was without a foundation and the structure collapsed with the weight of the train.

REVISED LIST OF WRECK INJURED
Tucumcari, N. M., Aug. 29 (AP) -- A check of the hospital here revealed the following injured in the wreck of the Golden State Limited:
MISS MARGUERITE BLACKBURN, Los Angeles.
SISTER MARY ROSE, Tucson, Ariz.
MRS. NELLIE MacKENZIE, Los Angeles.
MRS. LULA B. WHITLEDGE, en route to Denver.
SISTER BEATRICE GARY, Tucson, Ariz.
JULIA BUCHANAN, New York City.
In the Randle hotel, the injured reported were:
MRS. H. B. TRIP, El Paso.
W. E. RICHARDSON, Long Beach, Calif.
FATHER A. D. HEWITT, Genoa, Ill.
SAVERIO ANGUILI, San Francisco.
ALICE MELTON, Duncan, Okla.
MRS. JENNIE NERRAING, Rock Island, Ill.
P. H. CHRISTIAN, San Luis Opisbo, Calif.
VIRGINIA WILLIAMS, Bisbee, Ariz.
MARY ROELAND and son CLARENCE, Moline, Ill.
QUANAH MOORE, Memphis, Tenn.
FATHER P. T. BEATON, Amarillo.
MARJORIE WATKINSON, Kansas City.
CHARLES BORELLI, Philadelphia.
MRS. W. D. CLARK, El Paso.
JACK HORNER, Dayton, Ohio.
IDELIA PERRY, Read, Okla.
GERALD PEIFFER, Gettysburg, Ohio.
S. B. BENSON, Nashville, Tenn.
W. B. CLARK, home unlearned.
MRS. W. E. JORDAN and daughter, Brookhaven, Miss.
JULIA LAW, Pomona, Cal.
MRS. WILLIAM LANG, Columbus, O.
BOYD THATCHER, Kokomo, Ind.
JOSEPHINE TROIT, Denver.
VIRGINIA WILLIAMS, Bisbee, Ariz.
MRS. ANNA HEINZ, Joliet, Ill.
A. B. CHAMBERS, Pomona, Cal.
MILTON GREY, Club car porter.
HOLDER REICHARDSON, home unknown.
JOHN E. HACKAWAY, Chicago.
J. S. HENNIGAN, Chicago.
The last four names are negroes.
Others injured:
MRS. M. J. MEAGHER, Sauin Barbaro, Cal., right arm broken, scalp wound, right leg bruised.
CLARA BELLE GREENBAUM, Los Angeles, cuts on scalp and hand, bruised back and neck.
SISTER BEATRICE GORITY, Greensburg, Pa., injured shoulder, head, chest, cut in forehead.
KATHERINE BADGLEY, Los Angeles, chest injured, sprained back.
Of the injured, only Sister MARY ROSE was reported to be in a grave contition and she was given little chance to live. It was said by attending physicians.

Albuquerque Journal New Mexico 1933-08-30