Bloomington, IL Railroad Machine and Car Shops Fire, Nov 1867

Burning of the Car Shop of the Chicago and Alton Railroad at Bloomington-Loss Estimated at $150,000.

A dispatch from Bloomington, Ill., to the Chicago Tribune gives the following account of the destruction by fire of the machine and car shops of the Chicago and Alton Railroad Company, on Friday night, 1st instant:

“The fire was first discovered in the rear end of the brass foundry by Mr. VAN HORN, the night telegraph operator. When first discovered the fire had got under pretty good headway and in an astonishingly brief space of time had communicated to nearly all parts of the machine and car shops. The bells of all the engines of the round-house were rung, and the whistles of the engines which had steam up were brought into requisition to give the alarm. It is nearly a mile from the engine-house to the place of fire, and before the fire engines arrived the foundry and buildings immediately adjacent were all consumed, and the flames were rolling terrifically through the machine and car shops, so that it was impossible to save anything, and the firemen turned their attention to the buildings in the immediate vicinity, and by great exertion the round-house, with thirty engines, and the repair and blacksmith shops were saved. When the fire commenced the wind was blowing from the southwest, and large quantities of lumber were carried away to the northwest of the burning building, where it was supposed to be in a safe place, but around 1 o’clock the wind changed around in that direction and carried the flames toward the piles of lumber and soon communicated to them and destroyed nearly the whole of it.

The machine and car works, the storehouse containing all the supplies for the road, and where the paints and oils were stored, and the immense pile of lumber in and out of the dry-house, were all in flames at the same time, and presented a most grandly terrific scene. The raging, seething flames, literally melted down two locomotives which had just been put into the shop for repairs, together with all the ponderous machine works through the building.

It is impossible to give a full estimate of the losses. Mr. JACKMAN, Superintendent of the machine-works, and Mr. RENIFF, of the car department, made up a rough estimate, and reported that the loss cannot fall short of $150,000. All the machinery in the machine department, the brass and iron foundries, with all the machinery in the car shops are a total loss. All that was saved in these shops were the tools belonging to the workmen and a few owned by the company. The dry-house was full of well seasoned lumber, which was a complete loss; also a large quantity of lumber which had just been stowed away in the vicinity.

All the engines were saved, except the two in the shops for repair, and they were nearly completely destroyed. Over 350 men were employed in the works.

The New York Times, New York, NY 7 Nov 1867