Oroville, CA Trains Collide In Tunnel, Oct 1965
2 TRAINS BURN UP IN TUNNEL.
FOUR CREWMEN DIE IN FORNACE OF FLAMES.
Oroville, Calif. (AP) -- Diesel engines of two 40-car work trains collided Thursday night in a tunnel near the $200 million Oroville Dam site, exploding 10,000 gallons of fuel and killing four trainmen.
The tunnel, through which earth fill is moved to the dam, was turned into a fiery furnace for four hours.
Each train had two diesel engines. Each engine carried 2,500 gallons of fuel.
The leading diesel of the fully loaded eastbound train crashed into the leading diesel of the empty westbound train as it was emerging from the tunnel. The eastbound diesel burrowed underneath: the westbound diesel was lifted 40 feet and wedged against the tunnel mouth.
Each train carried one engineman and one oiler. Two bodies and a portion of a third were recovered. Identities were not possible immediately. But officials said the four men on the two trains were:
JOE PICKNEY, of Paradise and PAUL CALLAHAN, Yuba City, engineer and oiler on the loaded eastbound train; GEORGE BOATES, Stockton, and FRED WOOLARD, Yuba City, eningeer[sic] and oiler on the empty westbound train.
The explosive fire spread over nearby grass areas. Those fires burned on into today.
The tunnel, burrowed through a hill to speed up construction of the dam, was badly damaged. Some of its concrete was extensively cracked.
The crash was between trains owned and operated by the Oro Dam Constructors, who are building the giant federal-state Oroville Dam.
Each train normally hauled 40 cars filled with fill material a distance of five miles to the construction site.
Deputies said apparently one train was fully loaded and the other was returning empty.
The line was formerly owned by Western Pacific Railroad and the crash took place in what is known as the old Western Pacific tunnel.
Oro Dam Constructors confirmed the crash involved their trains but declined further comment.
The San Mateo Times California 1965-10-08