St. Louis, MO Trolley Wreck, Jul 1903

Thirteen Are Injured In Collision Between Trolleys At St. Louis

St. Louis, July 25.-Thirteen persons were injured, one probably fatally, in a collision today, between cars on the Compton Heights and Fourth Street lines of the St. Louis Transit company. A new motorman’s ignorance of a crossing caused the accident. One of the motormen, supposed to be R. E. Matthews, was among the injured, but he ran away after the accident and has not been seen. George A. Bernie, aged 65, was the most seriously hurt. He was internally injured, his shoulder was dislocated and he was cut about the head and arms.

Salt Lake Telegram, Salt Lake City, UT 25 Jul 1903


Three Were Killed

And Fifteen Persons Injured In A Collision.

A Vandalia Train

Crashed Into An Electric Cat At Lansdowne With The Above Result.

As the result of a frightful collision between a swiftly-running passenger train on the Vandalia railroad and a street car of the East St. Louis and Suburban Railway Company, at a point just north of East St. Louis, where the Collinsville and Edwardsville line crosses several railroad tracks, about 8 o’clock Sunday morning, two men were instantly killed and another received such terrible injuries that he died a short while after being taken to the hospital.

Besides the killed, fifteen persons received more or less serious injuries, and several of these will probably die.

That many more were not instantly killed is miraculous. The train which struck the car, it is said, was running at a speed of fifty miles an hour when the collision occurred. The street car was picked up by the locomotive, raised into the air, turned over endwise and landed fully fifty feet from the crossing, alighting on the embankment of the electric car tracks, a mass of splintered wood, twisted iron and broken glass.

The locomotive, after striking the car, left the rails, pounded over the railroad ties for a distance of about 300 feet and then tumbled down the embankment, the tender on one side of the track and the locomotive on the other.

Both the fireman and engineer of the locomotive went down with their engine and received injuries which caused the death of a former a few hours later and will probably terminate in the death of the latter.

Sunday’s accident, it is alleged, was due to criminal carelessness on the part of the motorman and conductor of the electric line. Had they not been derelict in their duty the accident would not have occurred, it is claimed.

John Roy, engineer of the Vandalia train, whose home is in East St. Louis; J.J. Lenharth, of 2100 McNair avenue, St. Louis, and David H. Beattie of 2306 Allen Avenue, St. Louis were the unfortunates who lost their lives in the smash-up.

Vincent R. Huggins, fireman on the Vandalia train, living at 1816 Cass avenue, St. Louis, is one of the fatally hurt. Louis Merkel of 110 Lami Street, St. Louis, and G.W> Young of 2215 Jules Street, St. Louis, are the two others whose condition is serious.

The motorman, Charles Burkhart, and the conductor, W. R. Miller, of the electric car. Escaped without injury. It is said that when they say the danger they jumped and ran away, leaving the passengers of their car to their fate.

There were 380 passengers on the Vandalia train. None of them were injured, although all were pretty well shaken up. That none of the train’s passengers were injured is due to the fact that the coaches did not leave the rails, as was the case with the locomotive.

At the place where the accident occurred, the track of the electric line crosses the Vandalia track, almost due north and south. The wrecked electric car was known as the fisherman’s car, and was en route to East St. Louis, after having made the run to what is known as the Canteen, on Cahokia Creek, almost two miles north of Lansdowne. Almost all of the passengers in the car were members of fishing parties that had spent the night fishing at Canteen, coming over from St. Louis.

The Vandalia track runs from northeast to southwest past Lansdowne. As the electric car approached the Vandalia track there was nothing to obstruct the view of the motorman. When within 40 feet of the Vandalia track he had a plain view of the roadbed northwest for two or three miles. Looking southwest, he could see an approaching train one mile away.

At the point where the collision occurred the electric company’s track approaches the Vandalia track on a decided uphill grade. Had the brakes of the electric car refused to work the car would have stopped of its own accord within 15 feet, had the current been turned off.

It is alleged by passengers of the electric car that the conductor failed to go ahead to the Vandalia tracks to ascertain if there was danger. The motorman did not stop the car, as he approached the crossing. The rules of the company require these precautions. They were violated, it is said, and the result was disastrous.

When the electric car reached the crossing, motorman, conductor and passengers instantly realized their danger. A few feet away the Vandalia accommodation was bearing down on them at a high rate of speed. The engine was running backwards and pulling six coaches.

It was too late for the motorman to stop. He turned on every bit of the current and attempted to run the crossing. He and the conductor jumped when they saw that a collision was inevitable.

The passengers saw their danger and were terrorized. Some of them sprang from the car. Others were not quick enough.

The electric car was struck almost in its center, and with its occupants thrown 50 feet south of the track. Two hundred feet southwest the tender of the engine left the track and rolled over on it side to the foot of the embankment. One hundred feet further the engine turned over on its side north of the track and rolled to the foot of the embankment.

The injured were hurried to Henrietta and St. Mary’s Hospital, East St. Louis, David H. Beattie dies there shortly after noon.

John Roy, engineer of the Vandalia train, died shortly after 5 o’clock.

Vincent Huggins, the fireman, was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital. It was stated that his injuries would likely prove fatal.

Officials of the street railway company were at a loss to account for the accident. They expressed the belief that the conductor and motorman must have thought they had time to make the crossing, or they would not have attempted it.

An attempt was made to see the motorman and conductor, but they could not be found. Calls at their homes and at the office of the company failed to locate them. Neither was injured to any extent.

The crossing where Sunday’s accident occurred is a very dangerous one. About thirty years ago a moving van, containing a picnic party, was struck by a train at the same place. Out of seventeen in the party, eleven were killed, as were also the horses drawing the wagon. About two years ago Mrs. Mary Lovingston and Mrs. William Eddy, two wealthy and prominent ladies of East St. Louis, attempted to go over the crossing in a surrey. The incoming express train on the Vandalia road struck their rig, killing the horse, and the buggy was picked up by the pilot and carried nearly a mile down the track, together with the ladies, who were badly injured, but recovered. Several other accidents, resulting in fatalities, have taken place at the crossing in past years.

Belleville News Democrat, Belleville, IL 27 Jul 1903