Palatine, IL Train Wreck & Water Tank Collapse, Apr 1887


Five Persons Killed and a Number Injured by the Collapse of a Railway Water Tank.

PALATINE, Ill., April 18. --- About half-past five o'clock last evening five persons --- three men and two boys --- lost their lives in a most remarkable mannor [sic]. Two freight trains on the Chicago & Northwestern railroad had collided here in the morning, and the scene of the wreck was surrounded by a great crowd of country folks. The freight wreck was a serious one, the trains having by some misunderstanding or misconstruction of orders met right abreast the great water tank and demolished each other.

The crowd viewing the wreck completely surrounded the great tank, which contained nearly a hundred thousand gallons of water. It is supposed that the jar of the collision, which was a violent one, had loosened or broken some of the hoops of the immense tank. However, there was no indication of any thing wrong or any intimation of any danger. The scene of the wreck was the center of attraction for the people of the town and the country round about and all day long there was a great throng of people about the locality.

Last evening the people who had nothing else to occupy their time flocked to the scene, and at half-past five o'clock several thousand persons were congregated in the vicinity, many of the being immediately under or closely surrounding the big tank. Suddenly the great tank collapsed and the people were buried by the debris of the structure and the immense volume of water.

Of course a scene of the wildest confusion ensued, and it was thought the loss of life would be great. As soon as possible the wreckage was cleared away when it was found that five people had been killed outright, two others fatally injured and many more severely hurt.

The dead are:

It is a wonder that many more lives were not lost and it is thought that several of those who were injured will die. The tank was an immense affair with a capacity of 100,000 gallons. It was built of oak plank four inches thick and twenty-four foot high. At the time of the collapse it is said to have been nearly or quite full of water.

The Rolla New Era Missouri 1887-04-23