Cascade Locks, OR Dreadful Train Accident, Jan 1890
FRIGHTFUL ACCIDENT ON THE UNION PACIFIC.
A HIGH BRIDGE GAVE WAY.
THE SCENE WAS ONE OF THE WILDESTA CONFUSION IMAGINABLE.
NINE MEN KILLED INSTANTLY.
A BRAKEMAN JUMPS FORTY FEET DOWNWARD AND ESCAPES.
TWENTY-SIX WORKMEN WERE WOUNDED.
A SURVIVOR TELLS OF HIS MIRACULOUS ESCAPE -- A CORONER'S INQUEST HELD AND THE JURY RETURNS A SEALED VERDICT.
The most frightful accident, in so far as loss of life is concerned, know in the history of the O. R. & N. branch of the Union Pacific, occurred at bridge number 68, over Williams Creek one and a half miles west of Cascade Locks and two and a half miles from Bonneville, at about 6:45 on Sunday morning last. On account of the interruption of telegraphic, as well as rail and river communication between Cascade Locks and Portland, no particulars of the disaster were obtainable other than the meager details published in yesterday's Oregonian, which were gleaned from a passenger on a delayed train who walked from the Locks to this city on Monday.
The railroad company had been endeavoring in vain to establish telegraphic intercourse with the Cascade Locks since Friday, so Supt. Johnson determined to send a boat to the scene of the disaster to bring the injured, if necessary, as well as the passengers on the delayed trains, to this city.
At 6 o'clock yesterday morning the Bonita started for the Cascades. While steaming up the Columbia and when just opposite Multnomah Falls, the boat was hailed by someone who was rowing down stream in a small boat. He was taken aboard and was found to be one of the delayed westbound passengers, Mr. E. Cannon, of the Northwest Electric Company, of this city, who left Baker City on Friday evening last on the flyer, and had been blockaded at Cascade Locks since Saturday afternoon. From him the following details of the dreadful accident of Sunday morning were obtained:
His train had passed over bridge No. 68, over, Williams Creek, where the accident occurred, on Saturday afternoon about 3:30 and, after encountering a slide to the west of the bridge, had returned to Cascade Locks until the slide should be cleared. The engine (No. 380) and a caboose, (No. 2208), which had been brought from The Dalles, were coupled, and with the crew of the passenger train and a number of section men, about thirty-five in all, started out to clear the slide, crossing over the bridge to reach the place. They worked until dark, when they returned to Cascade Locks for the night. The next morning (Sunday) at 6:30 the same men with the engine, tender, caboose and necessary tools, started again for the slide.
The section men and a portion of the train men were in the caboose. Engineer JACK GEORGE and Fireman GEORGE B. AVERY were in the cab and Brakeman BEN EMERICK was standing in the gangway. Just as the engine had about cleared the trestle, which was some fifty feet in length, the underpinning supporting the second and third west bents was washed away by the roaring torrent underneath, and the tender, with the caboose and its load of human freight, pitched headlong down into the ravine, forty feet below. Nothing but the presence of mind of Engineer GEORGE prevented the engine, too, from going down. When he felt that something was wrong, looked back and saw the caboose swaying, he pulled the throttle wide open and just succeeded in reaching terra firma, with his two back driving wheels hanging clear of the track, as the mass went crashing to the bottom of the ravine.