Hyannis, NE Train Wreck, May 1902





Two Seriously Injured and Number of Others Sustain Minor Hurts - Trains Meet at High Speed.

One of the most disastrous wrecks that ever occurred on the Nebraska lines of Burlington took place at an early hour yesterday morning one mile east of Hyannis, on the Billings line. Five lives were crushed out in the smoking car of train No. 42 of the Portland-St. Louis service, and one passenger is very seriously hurt, while a number sustained minor hurts.

The passenger train, eastbound, met a stock extra running west on the main line of the road, both trains running at a high rate of speed. The stock train was pulled by two engines, and the three engines were reduced to a pile of scrap. Singularly enough but one engineman was injured. Fireman Lee Leinhart being hurt so badly that his death followed soon after the wreck.

The Dead and Injured.
Following is a list of the killed:
WILLIAM RAY, Tecumseh, Neb.
W. W. PITTS, Eldorado Springs, Mo.
M. TUTTLE, Whitman, Neb.
JOHN COX, Strong City, Kas.
LEE LEINHART, fireman on engine pulling stock train

The injured:
R. H. Sitzer, brakeman, slightly hurt
D. E. Colvin, conductor, slightly hurt
Isaac Cox, Strong City, Kas., probably seriously hurt.

Great Prosperity Loss.
Engineer Phillips, with engine 327, was pulling No. 42. The extra stock train was pulled by engine 248 and 376. No. 376 is one of the big R2 types. The three engines were totally wrecked.

Conductor Colvin had charge of the passenger train, while Conductor McCready was running the stock extra.

The cars in the passenger train were all more or less damaged, although the passengers in the Pullmans and the chair car escaped with little shock. The smoking car was reduced to a total wreck. The railway postoffice [sic] car was thrown from its tracks, but the clerks, Frank Livringhouse, W. P. Jacks and O. F. Stanfield escaped serious injury. Weigher Robb was also in the car.

A number of the stock cars were wrecked and some stock was killed. The wreckage blocked the main line for several hours, and it was late in the day when a temporary track was finally constructed and line again opened for traffic.

How it Happened.
It was reported here last evening that No. 42 should have received orders at Ellsworth to wait for the stock extra at Hyannis. This order was either not properly delivered, or was disregarded. At the headquarters in this city it was said that nothing relating to the cause of the wreck had been received, and nothing more definite that the meagre [sic] details in the first official report had been received.

No 42 was a little late out of Alliance. It received orders at Ellsworth, it is said, and proceeded to Hyannis, where a stop was made. Then it pulled out and met the stock train one milk from that station. The scene of the wreck is on a curve in a light cut.
The passenger train is due at Hyannis at 2:24 in the morning. It was probably 3 o'clock when the wreck occurred.

Wreck a Costly One.
Passengers who arrived in this city last night said the wreck was a costly one. One man said the three engines occupied a space not more than thirty feet in diameter. The wrecked cars were piled up in a space not more that 100 feet in diameter.
The engineer and fireman on the rear engine of the double headed stock train went down with their engine. The men on the front engine and those on the passenger engine jumped before the trains got together. Fireman Leinhart was on the rear engine of the stock train. His legs were mangled and her received injuries from which death resulted in a few hours. The engineer escaped miraculously with only a slight scald on one arm.

The baggage car telescoped the smoker, and the members of the crew in the baggage car were taken out through the roof. It was badly wrecked. Strange to say, with all the chances for conflagration nothing took fire.

No Mail Lost.
The postal car was thrown from its tracks. Passengers got to the car soon after the wreck, chopped holes in the doors and let the clerks out. Clerk Livringhouse said last night that but one piece of mail was lost and that was a newspaper. It fell on the floor where the car broke and was wedged between the cracks. It was torn in two taking it out. Mr. Livringhouse said the shock was something terrific, and he could hardly understand hot it could happen without serious injuries being sustained by those in the car.

Impact Was Terrific
Detective Malone was a passenger on the train. He got on at Alliance and did not get to sleep before the wreck occurred. He was in his berth in the tourist sleeper when the shock came. It was serious enough to put out every light in the car and to shatter the doors and windows. Not a person was injured in the cars behind the smoker, although all were shocked. The impact was terrific, but passengers were not thrown from their berths. The cars behind the smoker did not leave the track.

Mr. Malone assisted in getting out the dead and injured. He learned that the Cox brothers, one killed and one severely injured, got on the train at Cooley City, Washington, and were going to Springfield, Mo. They have parents in Strong City, Kas. From the four dead mean more than $1,000 was taken and turned over to the railroad authorities for safe keeping.

M. Tuttle of Whitman was killed within six miles of his home. He would have left the train at the next stop.

Delayed Train Arrives.
Quite a crown of Lincoln people who had friends on the train met it when it arrived in this city at midnight last night. Nos. 44 and 42 were consolidated and run through. The dead and the injured were taken to Alliance and will be shipped for burial from that place.

The numer [sic] of injured is remarkably small for the number killed. This is accounted for by the fact that in but one car there were fatalities. Every person in the car was either killed or injured.

The members of the two engine crews who jumped were more or less injured in getting off, but their hurts were not regarded as serious.

It is said that Engineer Phillips narrowly escaped another wreck several days ago when Nos. 41 and 42 came near getting together near Hecia.


Misreading of Orders Probable Cause of Collision.

Hyannis, Neb., May 17.- (Special.) - One of the most disastrous railroad wrecks that has ever occurred in northwestern Nebraska took place here this morning, when the eastbound passenger collided with a westbound stock extra about one and a half miles east of Hyannis on a sharp curve. It is said that the passenger had orders to meet the stock train at Hyannis, but in some way the orders were misread. With a full head of steam the passenger train dashed into the two engines of the freight extra. The three engines, a baggage car, one coach and three stock cars are completely wrecked.

The force with which the two trains met was terrific. The engines are piled in a shapeless mass on which lies the wrecked stock cars and dead cattle. The first coach is completely telescoped by the baggage car. The mail car was thrown from its tracks but without injuring the mail clerks or the mail.

Of the six passengers in the first coach only two came out alive. Conductor D. E. Colvin, who is slightly bruised and a man by the name of Cox, brother of one of the killed. Mr. Cox is severely hurt. He may die. Engineer O. F. Phillips of the passenger train is hurt to some degree in the back. Engineers T. Huston and J. McDonnel of the freight train received light wounds in the limbs. Several other persons were slightly hurt. The dead are: LEE LEINHART, fireman on the freight extra, WILLIAM RAY, Tecumseh, Neb.; J. M. COX, Springfield, Mo.; W. D. PITTS, Eldorado Springs, Mo.; MYRON TUTTLE, Whiteman, Neb.

The wounded and all the dead excepting Mr. Tuttle, were taken to Alliance as soon as possible.

Particulars From Alliance.

Alliance, Neb., May 17. - (Special.) - Passenger No. 42 was pulled by engine No. 327, Oscar Phillips engineman and C. T. Tillet, fireman. The stock train, westbound, was pulled by double header engines Nos. 261 and 10, Huston and McDonald, engineers. The engines are all three completely demolished. All the enginemen and firemen, except Lee Leinhart, escaped by jumping. Leinhart was crushed in the engine having both legs mangled so that it was necessary to amputate them.
At the hospital here are Dan Colvin conductor of 42, with cuts and bruises about the head. He was two hours in the wreckage before he could be rescued. Oscar Phillips, the engineer of 42 is injured in the back. Other trainmen are slightly bruised. All are residents of this city. The bodies of the dead were brought to this place on 41 this morning and taken to the undertakers. The wreck, it is claimed, was caused by illegible handwriting of the operator at Hyannis, who had order for 42 to meet the stock train at that place, but the engineman and conductor interpreted "No. 42" to read "2nd 42" and as 42 was running in two sections the first put out of town with the understanding that the stock train was to meet the second section.

Tecumseh Man Leaves Family

Tecumseh, Neb., May 17. (Special.)- The Tecumseh man William L. Ray, who was killed in the collision on the Burlington today near Hyannis, was engaged as traveling salesman, selling nursery stock for James Nelson of this city. Mr. Nelson was with him on a western trip and would have been in the accident had he not missed the train at Sheridan, Wyo. Mr. Ray was aged about forty years and a native of Illinois. He had lived in Tecumseh but three years. He leaves a wife and four small children. Mrs. Ray is terribly shocked and grief stricken. It is believed the remains will arrive here tomorrow when the funeral arrangements will be made

The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, NE 18 May 1902



Minden, Neb., May 18.-(Special.)-The body of Lee Leinhart who was killed in the railroad wreck near Hyannis, arrived in Minden tonight on No. 3 and was taken to his home near Nrman [sic], where the funeral will take place tomorrow at 2 p.m. The parents and relatives of the dead man were here to meet the body.

The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, NE 19 May 1902