Waynesville, OH Circus Train Wreck, Sept 1888


Cars Filled with Sleeping Employees Splintered.


Twenty Others Wounded. Many Seriously and One Fatally-- Villagers Roused by the Cries of the Sufferers.

CINCINNATI, Sept. 9.---The worst wreck that the Little Miami road has known for years happened this morning shortly after 1 o'clock, at Waynesville, twenty miles north of this city. Five persons are dead and twenty wounded. Of the latter six are seriously hurt and one fatally. All of a sufferers were attaches of "Old John" Robinson's circus, which is showing in the vicinity of Cincinnati this fall preparatory to a Southern trip.

The circus showed at Xenia yesterday and at midnight started for Morrow, where it was to show to-morrow. The coaches containing the performers were attached to the rear of the train, and all retired to sleep. By special orders a freight train of seventeen heavily loaded cars started immediately after the circus train. The latter had orders to run fifteen to eighteen miles an hour; the freight was not to run over twelve.

Fearful Collision.

At Waynesville the circus train stopped to take in water on a sharp curve. They had hardly come to a stop before the freight came around the curve at full speed and struck the circus coaches before the sleeping employees could be awakened. With awful force five coaches were hurled from the track and piled up on top of each other. The ground was level and much loss of life was thus averted. The scene that followed was indescribable.

Scene of Horror.

"Twas pitch dark, and screams of women, groans of men, roar of frightened animals on the ground, and the work of rescue began.

Taking Out the Dead and Dying.

The first man taken out was the treasurer, who was uninjured, but had been penned in his berth by the splintered timbers. Gil and Jack Robinson, who were in the rear coach, were pulled out next, both bruised, but not seriously.

The women who were in the fifth coach from the rear were gotten out with little delay, none seriously hurt. The first dead body taken out was BEN CLONEY, Wheeling, W. Va., employed as lamp lighter. His head was crushed and he had been killed in sleep. In the same berth, also dead, his breast crushed in, was JOHN LALLY, cook, of the same city; FRANK SMITH, colored, cook, Richmond, Ind., had been hurled from his bunk and killed by the force of the shock. ANDY SMITH, the contortionist, of Petersburg, Ill., was still alive when found beneath a mass of debris, but died in an hour. John Fairbanks, a canvasman, of Starks, Maine, had his skull crushed and nearly every bone in his body broken.

All the dead, except Frank Smith, whose body was sent home, are still at Waynesville. Of the wounded seven are at the Good Samaritan Hotel, city. Of these, Elmer Fairbanks, Coolville, O., William Collins, no home, and James Monteith, LaPlatte, Mo., will probably die. The loss to the property is about $15,000. The animals were so badly frightened that they continue to cry and scream all day. The show will be given to-morrow as usual.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA 10 Sept 1888