St. Louis, MO Train Wreck, Aug 1930

Eight Dead as Texas Bound Train Wrecked in Missouri

Fast Frisco Passenger Derailed by Pile of Rocks Braced Securely on Track.

Bodies Extricated

Several of Dead Not Yet Identified Late Sunday Night.

St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 31 (AP).-Eight persons are known to have been killed and approximately twenty were injured early Sunday night when the Texas Special of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad was derailed at Osage Hills, about ten miles west of here in St. Louis County.

After an examination, Dr. John O’Connell, coroner of St. Louis County, said the derailment was caused by a large pile of rock placed on the rail.

Investigators for the railroad also said the derailment had been caused by a pile of rocks.

Find Rocks Braced.

At first Coroner O’Connell said it was impossible to tell whether the rocks had been deliberately placed on the rail for the purpose of wrecking the train, or whether it might have been the work of children at play. Later, however, railroad officials said they had found timbers bracing the rocks, which, they said, eliminated the possibility that children were responsible.

The dead:
ENGINEER ERNEST T. WHITE, Maplewood, Mo., and his fireman.
MRS. MABEL NEWTON, Washington.
MRS. ISABEL NEWTON, Washington.
CHARLES NEWTON, Washington.
Unidentified white woman about 35 years old, blue eyes, brown hair.
Unidentified man, probably Mexican, about 21 years old.
Four other bodies also were removed from the wreckage.

Texans Among Injured.

The injured:
Guy W. Williams, 55, St. Louis, auditor for the Frisco, fractures of the left ankle and left knee and lacerations.
Daniel Russell, 30, College Station, Texas, college professor, lacerations and bruises.
Atlee Wickersham, 37, Springfield, Mo., brakeman and baggage man, lacerations of the head and body, bruises.
William M. Meador, 60, conductor, Springfield, Mo., fractured left leg.
J.D. Burch, address unknown, Pullman conductor, broken left shoulder.
Lawrence R. Johnson, passenger, address unknown, lacerations and bruises.
Alec Hawn, address unknown, minor injuries.
An unidentified boy about 4 years old, possible fracture of the skull.
Robert A. Newton, 4, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Newton, Washington, D.C., fractured skull.
M.D. Stephenson, 55, Greenville, Texas, body bruises.

The accident occurred about 500 feet east of the Osage Hills station. The train, which left St. Louis at 6:30 p.m. for Fort Worth, Dallas and San Antonio, Texas, was traveling about forty miles an hour when the locomotive and three coaches left the rails and overturned. The other coaches left the rails, but did not overturn, reports indicated.

Two Cars Demolished.

Two of the coaches were completely demolished, the force of the derailment having torn two other coaches from their trucks. The track at the point of the wreck is eight feet higher that the tracks of the eastbound roadway, which adjoins.

Within an hour a crowd estimated at 10,000 persons had assembled near the wreck scene, St. Louis County officers reported. The officers took charge. Firemen from small towns near the wreck began removing the bodies of dead and the injured as soon as they arrived on the scene.

Four of the bodies were taken to an undertaking establishment at Kirkwood, in St. Louis County.

Three members of the train crew were reported to have been seriously injured.

The locomotive, after leaving the rails, ran into a bank, against which it came to a stop.

Examination of the switch, over which the train passed before being derailed, showed it to be in operating condition, disproving the original theory that a split switch had caused the accident.

Doctors and nurses from the Frisco Hospital as well as physicians and nurses from other institutions were rushed to the scene in ambulances.

The place where the derailment occurred is a “cut” in the side of rising ground.

When the engine rammed into the bank it turned over on its side. Ten feet from the engine a crack was found in the rail, the raw end of which had some creosote on it. This indicated, investigators said, that the crack had been in the rail for some time.

The combination baggage car and smoker, and the chair car overturned. Eight sleepers and the club car, Texas Ranger, remained upright. Persons in the last four sleepers and the club car were not badly shaken up.

Wreck is Described.

A passenger on the train, who refused to give his name, told reporters: “I was seated in the rear coach when I felt a sudden shock and the train was jerked forward in a sickening lurch. There followed another shock and a crash. This was repeated three or four times as the cars ahead jumped the track one by one and piled up.

“Finally the train slowed down and stopped. Everybody in my coach jammed the doors in getting out. Outside there was shouting and screaming and confusion as the passengers struggled to get out of the derailed cars or to extricate themselves or others from the wreckage.

“I saw the last five coaches were not derailed and ran up to the front. One of the first things I saw was a little boy whose feet were caught in the wreckage and who was weeping loudly. Beside him, unconscious or dead, was a woman who evidently was his mother.”
Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 1 Sept 1930

Train Disaster Is Probed

Two Bodies Of Six Killed Unidentified-Several Injured Are From Texas

St. Louis, Sept. 1.-(AP)-A two-fold investigation went forward today into the derailment near here last night of the St. Louis-San Francisco’s crack passenger train, the Texas Special, in which at least six persons were killed.

St. Louis county authorities and officials of the railroad, who were conducting separate inquiries, were convinced the derailment was the work of train wreckers.

Six bodies, including those of the engineer and fireman, lay in a morgue in suburban Kirkwood. P. W. Conley, superintendent of terminals at Tower Grove Station here, who took charge at the scene of the wreck, said, however, that eight bodies were recovered.

Dr. John O’Connell, county coroner, said the derailment had been caused by a pile of large rocks which had been placed on the rails. The rocks six or eight in number and ranging from one foot square to 8 inches in thickness, were placed on the rails on a curve in the tracks, he reported.

Yardmaster John A. Rutledge of St. Louis reported to J.E. Hutchison, vice president of the Frisco in charge of operations at Springfield, Mo., that the rocks had been reinforced by cross-laid timbers. Hutchison said it “very clearly” was the work of train wreckers, probably men familiar with railroading.

Three Cars Overthrown

The derailment occurred at a point about 500 feet east of Osage Hills station, about 15 miles west of here, at 7:20 p.m., less than an hour after the train had left St. Louis for Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio and other Texas points. The train was traveling about 40 miles an hour at the time.

The westbound right of way, on which the Texas Special was traveling consists of double tracks, which at the point are about ten feet higher than the eastbound right of way.

The locomotive, the combination baggage car, the chair car and the diner overturned, the other cars, eight Pullman coaches and a club car, the latter the Texas Ranger, also leaving the rails but remaining upright. The baggage car was unoccupied.

Government Employees Killed

Fifteen persons live in the immediate vicinity of the wreck and it was largely through their efforts hospitals were notified to send ambulances.

The bodies of Engineer C.E. Ray of Newburg, Mo., and fireman E.T. White, of Maplewood, Mo., were taken from the locomotive. At least for other bodies, including those of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Newton of Washington, D.C., relatives of former Congressman Cleveland Newton of St. Louis, were taken from the chair car. The Newton’s 4-year-old son, Robert A., suffered a fractured skull. Both Mr. and Mrs. Newton were employed by the post office department in Washington.

Two Unidentified

Early today two of the bodies in the Kirkwood morgue remained unidentified. One was that of a white woman, about 35; the other that of a man about 21, probably a Mexican.

Striking evidence that the engineer and fireman were true to their trust until death was found in the valve which controls the supply of fuel to the oil burner on the locomotive. The valve had been shut off, thereby preventing the likelihood of a fire.

An accurate check of the injured, especially those who suffered only minor injuries, was impossible today. Reports indicated many St. Lousians returned here and received treatment from family physicians instead of going to hospitals.

The locomotive, after leaving the rails, ran into a bank and turned over on its side. Passengers said the derailment caused little commotion in the three rear Pullmans and the club car, but persons in the forward cars screamed and shouted.

Atlee Wickersham of Springfield, Mo., the brakeman, although bleeding from cuts on his head, crawled from the wrecked baggage car and stationed flagmen at each end of the wreck to prevent other trains from running into it in the darkness.

The Dead and Injured

Known dead and injured in the derailment of the St. Louis-San Francisco’s crack passenger train, the Texas Special, at Osage hills, ten miles west of here, last night:

The dead:
C.E. (DICK) RAY, 58, Newburg, Mo., Engineer.
E.T. WHITE, 45, Maplewood, Mo., the fireman.
CHARLES NEWTON, Washington, D.C.
NEWTON’S wife ISABEL.
Unidentified white woman, about 35, blue eyes and brown hair.
Unidentified man, probably a Mexican, about 21.

The injured:
Guy W. Williams, 55, St. Louis, auditor for the Frisco, fractures of the left ankle and left knee and lacerations.
Daniel Russell, 30, College Station, Texas, a college professor, lacerations and bruises.
Atlee Wickersham, 37, Springfield, Mo., brakeman and baggage man, lacerations of head and body bruises.
William M. Meandor, 60, conductor, Springfield, Mo., fractured left leg.
J.D. Bersch, St. Louis, Pullman conductor, broken left shoulder.
Lawrence R. Johnson, passenger agent, San Antonio, Texas, lacerations and bruises.
Alec Hawn, 35, Muskogee, Okla., minor injuries.
Robert A. Newton, 4, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Newton. His parents were killed.
Mrs. M.D. Stephenson, 55, Greenville, Texas, body bruises and lacerations.
Walter Ridley, 44, St.Louis, negro waiter, head and hip injured.
Mrs. John Godfrey, 24, San Antonio, Texas, nervous shock and hysteria.

Brownsville Herald, Brownsville, TX 1 Sept 1930