Finley, ND Train Wreck, Dec 1911


Great Northern Train Catches Fire After Rolling Down an Embankment.


Oregonian, the Great Northern's Fast Flier, Leaves the Track While Running 50 Miles an Hour.

Special to The New York Times.

ST. PAUL, Dec. 30.---Six persons were killed and more than a dozen injured when the Great Northern's flier, Oregonian, which left here at 10:45 o'clock on Friday night for Seattle, struck a broken rail near Finley, N. D., while running fifty miles an hour, at 9:25 o'clock this morning. The dining and tourist cars and two day coaches turned over, all but one day coach rolling down a twenty-foot embankment.

The tourist car and diner caught fire from the kitchen ranges. The following-named are reported to have been killed:

BAILEY,-------, 2 years old, child of J. Bailey, Great Northern Railway agent at Bottineau, N. D.

KEETER, Mrs. MARTHA, Whitefish, Mont., a passenger.

LODGE, ALBERT, St. Paul, cook on diner.

MAHONEY JOSEPH, St. Paul, cook.


General Manager Gruber was in his private car, which was attached to the train, but it and the observation car remained on the rails. Mr. Gruber was not hurt.

The fatalities occurred in the dining car, and the bodies were burned to a crisp. Of the injured, two were seriously hurt, it is said, but none will die. All live in the West, except James Riley of New York, who was bruised. The thermometer registered 12 degrees below zero, and, with a twelve-mile wind blowing, the injured passengers and trainmen suffered considerably before they could be aided.

The General Manager's car and the observation car were transformed into temporary hospitals for the relief of some victims, while others were taken to a farmhouse near by.

The wreck was caused by spreading rails, one of which broke. The engine and baggage car passed safely over the broken place, but the next four cars slid down the embankment, landing on their sides.

Mr. Gruber ordered the engineer to cut loose from the train and go to Sharon for aid. Running fifty miles an hour, the engineer reached Sharon and a relief train, with doctors, was sent to the scene.

A special train, also was called from Devil's Lake, while the wrecking crew at Casselton was summoned.

Mr. Gruber gave orders not to try to extricate the dead until the injured had been cared for, and the fire burned so briskly that the bodies were cremated before identification could be made.

Lodge, the cook, was dragged from the wreckage and died as he was being carried to one of the cars for treatment. Futile efforts were made to put out the flames with fire extinguishers, snow, and wet blankets.

Mrs. Nellie Frank of Chicago, who was in the train, said:

"It all came in a moment. The first thing I knew the car was pitching over, and in a moment was upside down. As it settled on its side and the grinding roar of the timbers and steel ceased there arose groans from those who had been hurt.

"Women who had children with them frantically called for them. Almost in an instant we could hear the calls of 'Fire!' from the rear, and I heard some in the cars who had been injured beg to be rescued. Most of them, I believe, were got out of the cars. A woman with whom I had been talking was killed. I believe, as I did not see her after the crash.

"At the bottom of the embankment there is a slough. It was frozen over, but the heat of the fire melted the ice to a depth of about six inches and added to the obstacles which confronted the rescuers."

The New York Times, New York, NY 31 Dec 1911