White Pigeon, MI Flyer Derailment, Nov 1957


White Pigeon, Mich. (AP) --Behind schedule and on strange tracks, the New York Central's eastbound flyer. "The Chicagoan," tore off its rails outside this southwestern Michigan town today, killing one man and injuring at least 38 persons.
The flyer, en route from Chicago to New York with 164 passengers, lost 11 cars in the derailment where tracks cross Michigan Highway 103 a mile south of White Pigeon. One car overturned; others jack-knifed in a heap.
"The Chicagoan" had been rerouted at Elkhart, Ind., 15 miles southwest, to avoid an earlier derailment at Archbold, Ohio. It was on Michigan Central tracks running from Elkhart to Toledo and behind schedule because of the switch.
Foreman Dead.
Killed was HENRY NICHOLS, 54, of Chicago, a Post Office Department employe and a mail car foreman.
Twelve injured were hospitalized: seven in nearby Three Rivers and five in Sturgis, 12 miles west. Twenty-one were treated and released at Three Rivers; five at Sturgis.
Cause of the derailment was not determined immediately, but railroad crewman said there appeared to be some construction and maintenance equipment entangled in the wreckage.
Sgt. HOWARD A. DUNNEBACKE of Michigan State Police said the train went off a curve rated at 15 miles an hour for trains and added the flyer "obviously was going 40 to 50 miles an hour."
An immediate investigation was organized by W. T. ALEXANDER of Cleveland, general manager of the New York Central's Western Division, whose private car was at the end of "The Chicagoan." He set up headquarters in Elkhart.
Many of the injured were from among some 30 railway postal train clerks assigned to the big combination mail-passenger run. Their cars were immediately behind the locomotive.
Of the cars that left the tracks, three were railway post offices, two were mail storage cars, one a combination baggage car and coach, four coaches and a Pullman.
Stops Nurses Car.
In all, the coaches carried 126 passengers. There were 38 in Pullmans.
ALTON P. NOWAK, 57, of Dunkirk, N. Y., was the first to crawl from the wreckage. He broke a window to get out of a coach and ran to the highway crossing to flag passing cars. The first he stopped had two nurses in it. They rushed to the mail cars to give first aid.
No one got their names. They didn't stop to give them. NOWAK went to a Three Rivers Hospital where he was treated and released.
Another car NOWAK flagged sped to a Michigan State Police post within sight of the scene and summoned help from there.
The flyer left Chicago at 11:15 p.m. headed for New York. It was wrecked just inside the Michigan border, 15 miles west of the Ohio-Indiana border and approximately midway between Chicago and Toledo.
"It was just like being on a roller coaster," said JOSEPH VON ANDREWS, a Cleveland passenger. "There was a great roar and suddenly passengers, baggage and everything else started flying around the cars."

The Sheboygan Press Wisconsin 1957-11-16