Eureka Station, MO Frightful Train Collision, May 1870
FRIGHTFUL COLLISION ON PACIFIC RAILROAD.
EIGHTEEN PERSONS KILLED AND UPWARDS OF THIRTY WOUNDED.
(From the Missouri Republican, 13th inst.)
Once again our community has been startled by a terrible railroad accident involving a deplorable loss of life and a long list of wounded. The scene of the calamity was about a mile and a half this side of Eureka Station, about thirty miles from St. Louis, on the Pacific Railroad, where a collision occurred between the down express train due in this city at 6 o'clock A.M., and an extra freight train bound west. The first news of the disaster came down the line in an uncertain shape, to the effect that there was a train off the track near Eureka. Other rumors prevailed respecting the matter, but finally a dispatch from Franklin announced the fact that a collision had occurred and that a number of passengers were killed and wounded.
The accident was a collision between the east bound express train, due at St. Louis at 6 A.M. yesterday morning, and a west bound extra freight train that left this city during the night previous. The express train had five passenger cars and a baggage car, and the freight train was a long heavy one, drawn by a powerful locomotive. At the point of the collision, a mile and a half east of Eureka, there is an embankment, fifteen feet high where the road curves so sharply that two approaching trains cannot see each other until close together. It was at this perilous spot, of all others, that the approaching trains, each unconscious of the others' presence, and each thundering forward at a rapid rate of speed, were doomed to meet. There was but one instant's warning of the terrible danger to which the express train was rushing, too short to permit it to be averted. A boy standing beside the engineer of his train, MR. JACKSON, was the first to descry the smoke stack of the approaching freight engine entering the curve at the east, just as the express entered it at the west; he pointed to it and directed the attention of MR. JACKSON to the danger at the same moment. JACKSON instantly reversed his engine, and gave the two sharp quick whistles that call for the application of the brakes. The brakeman promptly responded at the word of command, and put up the brakes close and tight. This broke the force of the express train's speed somewhat, but not sufficiently.
No application of human power could brake up the heavy freight train and bring it to a halt under half a mile. The two engines rushed at each other like malign and enraged monsters, grappled with a tremendous crash, reared from the track in a mortal wrestle, and fell into helpless and disjointed fragments on the ground. The shock was terrible. The tender, baggage car, and the two forward passenger cars of the express train on one side, and the tender and several box cars of the freight train on the other, rushed into the crash with their respective engines, leaving at that quiet, rural spot, on the placid May morning, a disordered and frightful ruin spattered with the blood of forty human beings, entrapped and mutilated beneath its shapeless mass. There was no warning to the passengers, and none of them had time to jump and escape from the fate that came so suddenly and swiftly. One moment they were in the repose of imagined security, the next they were crushed, dead or maimed between an incumbent weight that held them as in a vice. The two engines were driven with such force into each other, that it was almost impossible, after the collision, to distinguish the parts of one from the other; the crashed cars were jammed together, the cars being shivered into long slivers, and the seats, wheels, trucks and irons blended into an indescribable heap that rolled off down the embankment . The three rear cars of the express train shared the concussion, but escaped the fate of the two forward ones. After the collision they were found standing stiff and still on the track, with their brakes close up, showing that the brakemen had done their duty well in responding to the engineer's whistle before they leaped from the train.