Corwin Station, OH Circus Train Wreck, Sept 1888



CINCINNATI, Sept. 9.----At 2:30 o'clock this morning a train containing John Robinson's circus, while stopping to take water at Corwin station on the Little Miami Railroad, 51 miles from this city, was crashed into by a heavy freight train, and a scene of terror seldom equaled ensued. The circus train left Xenia at midnight, where an exhibition had been given in the evening. The train was in charge of William Rosenberg, conductor, and James Golden, engineer. It was composed of about 50 cars, containing the people and property of the show. At 12:10 A. M. the second section of freight train No. 53 left Xenia in charge of "Al" Wilke, conductor; James Long, engineer, and Frank Howell, firemen. The circus train had its caboose protected with danger signals. While the engine was taking water at Corwin the fireman saw the headlight of the train following flash around the curve to the rear and called to the engineer, who instantly gave his engine all the steam he could and did all in his power to prevent of lessen the force of the collision. When the circus train stopped Trainmaster Aiken of the circus got out of the cars, and was looking abut the train when he saw a headlight flash around the curve, less than 1,000 feet distant. He ran through the three forward sleepers, shouting to awaken the sleeping occupants. The occupants of these three cars all escaped. When Aiken reached the fourth sleeper he shouted and jumped to save his own life. As he did so the heavy freight engine came plowing into the circus train, and then followed a scene that will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.

In less than one minute the wreck was piled up, and then came the terrible screams of the crushed and wounded and the walls of agony from the dying, all surrounded by a darkness which was impenetrable. The rear of the circus train was made up as follows: caboose sleeper "Walnut Hills," "Gravelotte," "Terrace Park," "Madisonville," and "Milford." When the engine plowed into the train, the caboose was split in twain and thrown down the bank. The rear end of the sleeper and its front end driven into the next sleeper, Gravelotte, which, in turn, was forced into the Terrace Park, which drove the Madisonville up on the top of the Milford. In the Milford were the victims. This sleeper was cut through by the flat in front and reduced to kindling wood, all remaining being the roof. In it were all the dead and the wounded. When the shock of collision was over the inmates began to scream for help and the crew began at once the work of rescue. Torches were secured, a bonfire was made of some of the debris and willing hands were soon at work at the pile of boards, mattresses and shivered frames.

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