Greencastle, IN Train Wreck, Oct 1884
IN A CAGE OF FIRE.
A TRAIN OF CARS HURLED DOWN A STEEP DECLIVITY.
THE ENGINEER HEROICALLY REMAINES AT THE THROTTLE AND MEETS DEATH. THE ENTIRE TRAIN WRECKED. MUCH DAMAGE DONE.
Indianapolis, Ind., Oct. 20. -- Another of those frightful railroad accidents that cause the blood to run cold at the reading is reported to have occurred on the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago railway, near Greencastle, forty miles west of this city.
The train, consisting of an engine, baggage car and three coaches, containing over one hundred passengers, had reached a point near Greencastle when the engine struck an open switch and like a flash plunged down a steep embankment, rolling over twice in its terrible descent. The train was a complete wreck, and the heartrending shrieks of the imprisoned passengers was pitiable to hear.
MR. JOHN NEWMAN, a resident of this city, who was a passenger on the ill-fated train, gives the following thrilling account of the accident:
"When the train jumped the track I was sitting in the forward car. We were going probably at the rate of thirty miles an hour when I felt the train slow up, then give a lurch, and for the moment I thought we were switching to another track, but before I could think twice I was dashed against the roof of the car in its mad roll down down the embankment. How many times the train turned over and over I don't know, but I remember of being thrown over and over from one side to the other. There were about forty passengers in my car, and they all had a similar experience. Most of those who were not maimed or bruised released themselves from the wreck and assisted those who were injured. I was, providentially, among the few who were only slightly injured, and I immediately thought of fire. I looked towards the baggage car and saw smoke issuing from it. Flames quickly followed, and fanned by a strong breeze the entire train was soon wrapped in a fierce blaze. The escape of the passengers from death or serious injury was providential, if not miraculous. Here were a hundred passengers hurled down an embankment imprisoned in a train that reached the bottom a wreck, and not one fatally injured. Yes, alas! there was one and he the hero of the day. JAMES CHURCH, the engineer, stood to his post and went down with his hand on the throttle. He was crushed beneath his engine and though alive when I left, cannot possibly recover."
"CHARLES CUTTER, the express messenger, and the baggage master were buried beneath the wreck and were doubtless instantly killed. All efforts to release their bodies were ineffectual."
"The passengers who were hemmed in by the fire, looked on as the train burned, and in an hour the whole train had been consumed."
A special train from Greencastle says that the loss to the company will probably reach $100,000, not including the loss of the passengers' effects and baggage. The accident was caused by the gross carelessness of a switchtender, who left the switch open after another train had been side-tracked. The company ascribes the accident to the organized gang of train wreckers. They point, as grounds for their suspicions, to an attempt made to wreck a train on the same road, saying that there is a conspiracy to inflict heavy loss on the company. Within a year two other passenger trains have been wrecked and consumed.
Chester Times Pennsylvania 1884-10-20