Jackson, UT Train Wreck & Explosion Destroys Town, Feb 1904 - Explosion Destroys Town


Two Cars of Dynamite Blown Up by Collision Near Salt Lake --- Thirty-Six People Are Killed.

SALT LAKE, Utah, Feb. 20. – A score or more of people were blown to pieces and as many injured in a frightful disaster which occurred on the Lucin cut-off of the Southern Pacific, that crosses Great Salt Lake, west of Oregon, yesterday afternoon. Two freight trains collided while switching. Two carloads of giant powder and dynamite exploded. The little town of Jackson was destroyed and one thousand feet of track was blown up. Many of the dead were cut into atoms, and it is next to impossible to estimate accurately the number of dead. Most of the dead were Greek and Italian workmen. Telegraph wires are down and many details are still lacking.

List of the Dead.

The death list compiled so far is as follows:
OWEN DERMODY, conductor, Beaver Dam, Wis.
JOSEPH TAYLOR, telegraph operator, his wife and three children.
THOMAS BURKE, roadmaster.
W. J. BURKE, general track foreman.
WILLIAM HALLER, mail messenger.
All the other dead were Greeks and Italians.

Caused by Concussion.

The accident took place about 4 o’clock near the little town of Jackson. A work train of seven cars going west had been pulling into a siding to let pass a water train. The engine of the water train struck the last car of the work train. This car and the one ahead were filled with dynamite and giant powder. The concussion caused a tremendous explosion, completely destroying the work train. Standing alongside of the train were a score of workmen. They were blown to pieces and many of the cannot be found. One man was blown over a freight car a distance of 200 feet. He landed in a ditch and will live.

Estimate of the Dead.

Two trains bearing the injured reached Ogden at 11 p. m. Two of the injured died in route. Railroad officials claim that only seventeen workmen were killed, while eyewitnesses say that double that number lost their lives. The force of the explosion was so great that the buildings in the small settlement of Jackson were demolished and the ground around the trains forty feet deep was thrown up. The shock of the explosion was felt in Ogden, eighty-five miles away. The cause of the shock could not be ascertained until late night.

Traffic Was Blocked.

Traffic was completely blocked and trains were sent over the old road of the Southern Pacific. Railroad officials are completely stunned at the magnitude of the disaster, which follows so many accidents which have occurred during the construction of the cut-off.

Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, IN 20 Feb 1904