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Fowler, Indiana Train Wreck

January 19, 1907


Twenty Five Killed In Wreck Which Occurred in Dense Fog on the Big Four Saturday.

After Collision the Debris Immediately Took Fire and the Injured Were Burned to Death And Their Bodies Were Incinerated.

The Number of Dead May Never Be Known

As the Remains are Burned Beyond Possibility of Recognition in Many Cases After Collision Ghouls Descended On Wreck and Began Plundering Victims.

Fowler, Ind., Jan. 19
The worst railroad wreck in the history of this city occurred at 2:30 this morning on the main line of the Big Four a half mile east of this place.

The train was the Queen City special No. 38 east bound and was going at a speed of 50 miles an hour. At least 25 people were killed, 20 of whom were cremated.

Partial List of Dead.

HENRY C. OUTGALT, fireman, Cincinnati, of Price Hill Lodge No. 524, F. & A.M.
P.J. HIGGENER,
conductor, Indianapolis.
J. MAGEE,
baggagemaster, Indianapolis.
HENRY MINOR,
fireman on freight, Griffith, Ind.
W.B. HARRIS,
Indianapolis.

The Injured.

The following injured were removed to Kankakee and are now in the hospital there:

W.B. HARRIS, Indianapolis, both legs crushed, will die.
ED. TRIPP,
Lafayette, serious.
L.S. TAIF,
Chicago.
H.W. TURK,
of Michigan.
M.A. PRESTON,
New York.
W.P. HALL,
37 West Georgia st., Memphis, Tenn.

Owing to the dense fog the engineer of the Big Four flyer was unable to see the light on the semaphore, which directed him to stop, as a west bound freight had the right of way. The train dispatcher knowing that the dense fog would prevent the trainmen from seeing the block signal, went outside and waved his lantern frantically and fired at least a half dozen shots from his revolver, but the train went rushing by and a moment later the crash came.

The tender of No. 38 telescoped the baggage car, the rear end of the tender cut through to within ten feet of the rear of the smoker. The firemen on both trains were killed instantly, but engineers escaped by jumping.

The report of the collision was heard all over the town. Fire bells and whistles called the people to the aid of the injured.

Immediately following the crash the wreck caught fire and the bodies were burned before they could be extricated from the ruins. The heat of the burning cars was so intense that the would be rescuers could not get near enough to help. The injured and some of the dead were taken to Kankakee, Ill.

One man who was pleading piteously for aid was pinned under a car seat. He was rescued when the blaze was within six feet of him. Another was thrown out of the window of the smoker into a ditch. These were the only two passengers rescued from the smoker.

The killed include men, women and children, and all that could be seen at daybreak this morning was the smoldering skeletons of human bodies and the wreckage of the smoke and baggage cars.

None of the passengers in the sleepers were killed.

Coroner COMLEY has taken charge and Prosecuting Attorney HALL will assist the coroner in making an investigation of the wreck. The sleeping cars were not destroyed by fire as at first reported. The fire spread and it became necessary to transfer the dead and injured, this time to Vice President SCHAFFs private car in which they were taken to division headquarters at Kanakee [sic], Ill.

Passengers were pinned under some of the wreckage and burned to death.

The engineer of the passenger train is seriously injured, but will survive.

The fireman of an engine was crushed to death. His body was recovered.

PAUL D. HARRIS, an attorney of Chicago, who was en route to Florida, was, so far as known the only person to escape from the combination car. He reached Lafayette on another train and reported that the dead and injured, as last as they were drawn from the wreck, were placed first in the first sleeper, a Cincinnati sleeper. This car caught fire and the victims were hastily removed to the next car, the Indianapolis sleeper.

The train was running at the rate of 50 miles an hour when the accident occurred and the force of the collision was so great that tender of the passenger engine was driven the entire length of the combination car in which were number of passengers, estimated at from 15 to 25. All the dead and injured were taken from the wreckage of this car, none of the passengers in the sleepers having been hurt.

Soon after the collision, the wreckage caught fire from the engine coals and all the coaches, except the sleepers and the private car of Vice President SCHAFF were destroyed.

According to Mr. HARRIS both the trains had orders to stop at Fowler, but the passenger train ran by the block signal which the engineer failed to see on account of the fog.

Vice President SCHAFF was not on board the train, but his wife occupied the private car. Mrs. SCHAFF was not injured.

The Newark Advocate, Newark, OH 19 Jan 1907

Transcribed by Rosemarie  Thank you, Rosemarie!

       

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