Adel, IA Train Wreck, Dec 1903



Adel, Dec. 14. -- Three trainmen were killed and five more or less injured in a terrible head end collision between two freight trains on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway two miles east of here at about 2:45 o'clock yesterday morning.

The dead:
FRANK FINNICURA, Des Moines, engineer west bound train.
WALTER WARD, Des Moines, engineer east bound train.
OSCAR D. DYER, Des Moines, fireman east bound train.

The injured:
JOHN R. FLYNN, Des Moines, conductor west bound train; bruised and badly shaken.
H. M. BELLMAN, Des Moines, brakeman west bound; badly bruised head and body.
WILLIAM FIELDS, Des Moines, brakeman east bound train; bruised and cut and injured back.
Engineer GEORGE CHAMBERS, Des Moines, west bound train; bruised and cuts upon head and body.
S. L. RICHEY, Des Moines, conductor east bound train; bruised and shaken.

The disaster was probably due to the mistake of a youthful operator at Clive, a small way station a short distance from Des Moines. At that point the west bound freight, a double header, received a clearance card instead of the dispatcher's orders to meet an east bound extra freight at Waukee and it passed on through that station without stopping. The east bound extra, however, received its meeting orders correctly at Redfield; it hurried on through Adel and the two trains went steaming down upon each other at their topmost speed on the stretch of track between Adel and Waukee.

Then the awful mistake was discovered. Nervous with a terrible fear, the dispatcher at Des Moines tried to catch the west bound freight at Waukee, but it had passed there some minutes before. There was still one chance -- possibly the east bound extra might be stopped at Adel. The dispatcher again seized the key at his desk and hastily clicked the operator at Adel to stop the extra there. A deathlike stillness pervaded the room as he leaned eagerly over the instrument to hear its response. It came; the dispatcher's face paled as he heard it, his heart sank within him and he was momentarily stricken with horror. "My God!" he exclaimed to those who were near him. The extra had left Adel for its fatal run only forty seconds before his message arrived and the red light at the rear of the caboose had barely disappeared. An accident was inevitable and the dispatcher in Des Moines, the operator at Adel and the miserable young fellow at Clive were able to do nothing more than wait for the awful crash and the death and destruction that must follow it. An hour later Conductor RICHEY walked into the station with a harrowing tale that verified their worst fears.

Adams County Free Press Corning Iowa 1903-12-19


Adel, Iowa Train Wreck 1903

DES MOINES, Iowa, Dec. 12 - Three trainmen were killed and four injured in a freight collision today on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul road near Adel, Iowa. A double header west bound and an extra freight east bound came together in a deep cut on a sharp curve. Three engines and fourteen cars were entirely demolished.

The dead:

FRANK FINNICUM, engineer, Des Moines.

OSCAR DYRE, fireman, Des Moines.

The Duluth News Tribune, Duluth, MN 14 Dec 1903



Two Trainmen Killed and Four Injured Near Adel, Iowa.

Des Moines, Iowa, Dec. 13 - Three trainmen were killed and three injured in a freight collision early today on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad near Adel, Iowa. Three engines and fourteen cars were demolished. The dead:

FRANK FINNECUM, engineer, of Des Moines.

OSCAR DYER, fireman, Des Moines.

WALTER WARD, engineer, Des Moines.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 14 Dec 1903