Eureka Station, MO Frightful Train Collision, May 1870
The spectacle was one impossible to view without absolute horror. As a soldier passenger said, "I have been through many battles, but never saw so sickening a scene." It was chaos and death combined. The engines both on the same side of the embankment, were but a heap of battered fragments, while around on all sides was the confusion of ruin twice confounded. The baggage car and the one next to it were shivered as if by an internal explosion, and the mass of broken timbers, iron rods, wheels, and other portions of the car looked like the frantic work of some infernal agency. It was a glorious May day, and mingling with the bloody fragments strewed around, were the delicate green blades and stems of spring verdure. But for hours after the collision no opportunity was afforded to view the wreck in the aggregate. One's eyes were constantly drawn to the various spots from whence cries proceeded - cries of agony from some wretched victim - or else to the pallid limbs or faces of the dead, of which glances could be obtained through the spaces in the wreck. In a collision, the principal loss of life generally results from wood splinters, sharp jagged spears that fly with the shock, like arrows from the hand of a giant. Several of the victims of this accident were slain in this way, and to look close into the wreck yesterday, was to see the evidences of this. Red human blood could be seen on the fresh hue of the newly rent wood, or a point of wood protruded, stained with the life tide of some dead person, whose body was invisible. In many cases there were wounded and dead which it was impossible to see amid the tangled mass of broken wood and iron, often, however, the little red steam of blood flowing down some slanting beam, or else dropping slowly on the ground, indicated a spot of death or of some senseless victim still breathing. More horrible, however, than the bodies killed by impaling wood splinters, were those crushed by heavy masses of iron or wood driven against them as if fired from a cannon. A human body reduced almost to a bloody pulp by crushing forms a frightful picture in nearly all serious railroad collisions, and was not absent from this.
No. 1. JAMES M. SMITH, of Seymour, Indiana, appeared to be about 45 years of age. He had on him two promissory notes, a freemason's card, lodge 146, and $17.05 in cash.
No. 2. BALLENTINE, had got on the train at Sedalia, and had in his pocket a ticket for the Tower Grove city railroad, and an envelope addressed J. A. Holmes & Co., Lumber Yard. He had also a railway pass, and papers showing that he had charge of the lumber yard of Messrs. Holmes & Co., Sedalia.
No. 3. AGRIPPA FLINT. This man is supposed to be the keeper of a saloon on Chestnut or Pine Street; had on him a railroad pass, deed of trust, and a policy for $3000 in the Home Life Insurance Company.
No. 4. GEO. W. KEGER. He had on him a bank receipt, two silver watches and $8.20 in cash. A letter on him indicates his home to be in Sangamon County, Illinois.
No. 5. This man was supposed to be the body of E. R. SPALDING, Medford Street, Boston. He had in his pocket a letter from a friend in Kansas, describing the quality and price of the land there, and urging him not to come. He was found lying dead among the debris, with his gun right across him. In his pockets were two studs, two small gold rings, a key check, some dice and $3.
No. 6. A. W. STRATON, of Kansas City, a middle aged man, about 33 years of age. In his pocket was a letter of introduction on behalf of himself and his friend W. J. Ryan. The letter represented them on desirous of purchasing land. He had on him $20 cash.
No. 7. G. W. TUCKER, a large sized man, about 55 years of age. Round his person, there was a leather belt with pockets which contained five gold $20 pieces, done up separately in paper, also $80.25 in greenbacks, making a total of $180.25. He had on him a first class passage ticket from East St. Louis to Pana, Illinois.
No. 8. CHRISTAIN RODENBERG, age about 55, a German, of Leavenworth, Kansas. His leg had been torn off below the knee, and it was found lying among the wreck. In his pockets there was some tobacco and a bottle.
No. 9. GEO. WASHINGTON, a mulatto, age about 26. There was some difficulty in ascertaining what he was, but the body was eventually recognized as that of the porter on the wrecked train. His parents live in Jefferson City. This man's leg had also been crushed.
No. 10. JOHN STURDOVANT, Pekin, Ills., a large portly man. He was the father of ABRAHAM STURDOVANT, one of the wounded. This man's face, like that of many others was covered with blood, and was bruised.
No. 11. E. R. WILSON. This man's name was learned from his pocket book, appeared to be about thirty years of age. In his pockets there was a small magnifying glass, a confederate five cent note and a newspaper advertisement relating to specimens of counterfeit money, $36 in greenbacks and $1.45 in silver were found on him. It appeared he had been to St. Louis.
No. 12. FRANK HOLT, about 35 years, from Kansas. This gentleman had been telegraphed for to come and see his wife, who was in a dying condition at Westfield, Ohio. He had started to compliance with the request, and taken his son and daughter with him. The son was amongst the wounded, and his other child now lay by his side a corpse. At the time of the collision he had $150 on him, and it was taken in charge by his son.
No. 13. Daughter of the preceding F. HOLT, a girl about 18 years old.
No. 14. EMORY R. STUCKY, Evansville, Indiana. This man was able to walk for a short time after being removed from the wreck. He gave directions respecting his property to Mr. J. Lee, one of the men who assisted in getting out the killed and wounded. In his pocket book there were $24.25.