Albia, IA Train Wreck, Dec 1903



Albia, Dec. 14. -- Five persons were killed and also injured in a passenger train wreck on the main line of the Burlington railroad three miles west of here at 9 o'clock yesterday morning.
The dead:
MRS. W. E. MITCHEN, Albia.
Infant child of MRS. MITCHEN.
MR. FRANKLIN, residence unknown.
Unknown Laborer.
The injured:
C. E. BLAIR, Lamont, in serious condition.
WARD FERGUSON, Mitchell, Neb., in serious condition.
W. B. MARTIN, Chicago.
CALEB ALLEN, negro waiter on diner, Chicago.
R. PRICE, cook on diner, Chicago.
S. T. WILLIAMS, porter, Chicago.
E. T. SCOTT, Osecola.
E. T. BROWNING, Yates Center, Kan.
The infant child of MRS. MITCHEN was burned to death, and its cries, as the flames approached and consumed it, were heard by the horrified passengers who had got out of the wreck, but were powerless to aid the child. It had dropped through the splintered floor of the coach and was burned when the bridge from which it dangled, its clothing having caught in a stringer.
WARD FERGUSON, 3 years old, dropped through the floor of the same coach and fell into the creek beneath the bridge, escaping the flames, but suffering injuries from which he probably will die.
The flames consumed five cars, the locomotive and bridge near which the wreck happened. The locomotive jumped the track just as it reached the bridge and the train passed over the structure before the engineer, who had stuck to his post, could stop it. All seven coaches left the track and ran over the bridge. The three-foot iron railing along the side of the bridge ripped off the sides of the five coaches and in doing so scattered the coals from the stoves, instantly setting fire to the entire wreck.
Within ten minutes the wrecked train was a mass of flames, threatening new danger to the people who were scrambling through the coach windows.
The cause of the wreck is unknown. The train was No. 3, west bound, from Chicago to Omaha. It left Ottumwa twenty-five minutes late. The engine jumped the track just before reaching the culvert a quarter of a mile east of the tower No. 310, which is about three miles west of Albia. Official railroad reports of the wreck state that no cause for the engine jumping the track has been discovered. Nothing is said about speed. The engineer was WILLIAM WALLACE and the conductor was R. W. ROBINSON, They lived in Burlington.
About 500 feet of track was torn up. The bridge would have been uninjured, practically, had fire not added its horrors to the wreck. The railing along the side saved the coaches from being ditched with much greater loss of life. The bridge was about ninety feet long.

Adams County Free Press Corning Iowa 1903-12-19


Albia Train Wreck

The dead:

MRS. W. E. MITCHEN, Albia, Ia.

MILDRED MITCHEN, 3 years old, burned to death

THOMAS BEATTY, killed in wreck of smoking car.

---- FRAUDIN, address unknown.

An unknown man.

The injured: W. P. Martin, Chicago, leg sprained; C. E. Blair, Lamoni, IA., hip injured; Robert Ferguson, Mitchell, Neb., leg broken; Mrs. J. H. Robinson, Ottumwa, back sprained; E. T. Scott, Osceola, Ia., three ribs broken; F. T. Browning, Yates Center, Kas., hip injured; Gabriel Allen, Chicago, waiter dining car; William Branch, Chicago, cook dining car; R. Price, Chicago, cook dining car; S. T. Williams, Chicago, porter. None of the injured will die.

Just what caused the accident is a mystery. As soon as the engineer noticed there was something wrong he applied the air brakes, but was unable to stop the train. Five cars were completely burned and the remaining coaches badly damaged.

The work of rescue was carried on with difficulty, as the cars took fire immediately after the accident, and the bridge is a high one. The injured were taken to Albia and Ottumwa.

The train was in charge of Conductor R. W. Robinson and Engineer William Wallace.

Morning World-Herald, Omaha, NE 14 Dec 1903