Neoga, IA Train Wreck, Sept 1890


A frightful wreck occurred on the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific, near Neoga, Iowa, about three o'clock on a recent morning. The following is the list of the killed: JOSEPH BURKE, fireman, of Stanbury, Mo.; MARTIN ESKRIDGE, engineer, of Stanbury, Mo.; R. S. WILLIAMSON, head brakeman, of Macon, Mo.
The accident occurred at a trestle about three hundred feet long, which crosses a cut made by a creek through hills. The bridge is at the end of a curve so sharp that a person standing one hundred yards to the east can just see the end of it. The train, which consisted of seventeen loaded cars and a caboose, was just crossing round this curve from the east when the whole western half of the bridge was discovered to be a mass of flame. The brakemen were at their posts, as the grade is steep at this point, and the engineer reversed the lever, but it scarcely checked the train.
The engine struck the bridge and went down into the burning chasm fifty feet below, while the cars piled above it in a shapeless mass.
Brakeman WILLIAMSON was hurled against a tree and his skull crushed so that he died in a few minutes. Engineer ESKRIDGE was undoubtedly crushed to death in the wreck, although his body has not yet been found.
Fireman BURKE was found with his left hand pinioned under a girder, but otherwise unhurt. Above him was a tank of oil, the lower end of which was already enveloped in flames and he begged the conductor and the rear brakeman who found him to cut off his hand as the only means of saving him from the impending explosion of the oil tank.
They made a desperate effort to pull him loose, but being unable to do so finally started for the ax in the caboose, but before they could get to him the explosion took place, and BURKE was burned to death.
The bridge is supposed to have been set on fire by coals from an east bound local freight, which crossed the bridge about nine o'clock in the evening.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1890-09-26


Train wreck

Martin Eskridge was my great grandfather. That section of the route has been turned into a rails-to-trails path, and I walked it a couple of years ago. The location of the tressle has been filled, and the route goes along the top of the fill. I believe it was filled while the rail line was still in use.