DISASTROUS TRAIN WRECK IN HISTORY OF C AND A BRANCH TAKES PLACE
EARLY SUNDAY MORNING ABOUT 1 O’CLOCK ON SEPTEMBER 25, 1910.
Headlines in the Metamora Herald dated Friday, September 30, 1910
reads as follows: FREIGHT LEAPS TRACK: FLAMES BURN WRECKAGE
THROUGH FREIGHT MEETS ACCIDENT
AT WASHBURN EARLY SUNDAY MORNING IN WHICH FIREMAN, ENGINEER AND
BRAKEMAN NEARLY LOSE LIVES DOUBLE DISASTER MAKES A NIGHT OF
TERROR FIRE BREAKS OUT IN WRECK AND CITIZENS WORK WITH MIGHT AND
MAIN THROUGH NIGHT TO SAVE PROPERTY....SIXTEEN CARS AND THEIR
CARGOES LAID IN ASHES....INJURED ARE CARED FOR BY HUMANE CITIZENS OF
SUMMARY OF THE C AND A
RAILROAD TRACK DISASTER: FIREMAN NENNE, TERRIBLY SCALDED, RECOVERY
UNCERTAIN, ENGINEER SMALLWOOD, BADLY SCALDED BUT WILL RECOVER,
BRAKEMAN LAWLER, SCALDED, BUT CONDITION NOT SERIOUS.
WITH LOSS OF $25, 000 LOST
ON CARGO ESTIMATED TO BE AT LEAST $50,000.
CAUSE OF THE WRECK IS
ASCRIBED TO SPEEDING TRAIN DUE TO EXCESSIVE SPEED ON THE CURVE WHERE
THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED.
THE WRECKED CARS WERE
DISTRIBUTED ON BOTH SIDES OF THE TRACK, WHILE THE ENGINE LAY ON THE
RIGHT AND INNER SIDE OF THE CURVE. FROM THE TORN AND TWISTED TRACKS
IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND A TRACE OF THE CAUSE.
WHAT BECAME OF TWO HOBOES
THAT THE TRAINMEN REPORTED TO HAVE BEEN ON THE TRAIN IS ANOTHER
OUT OF THE CHAOS OF
WRECKAGE, SCALDED BY THE ESCAPING STEAM, AND DELIRIOUS FROM THE
AWFUL SHOCK AND THEIR TERRIBLE INJURIES, THE FIREMEN, ENGINEER AND
ONE OF THE BRAKEMEN CREPT WITH THEIR LIVES TO SAFETY. IN THE
WRECKAGE, THE WHISTLE ROD BECAME STUCK AND THE WHISTLE’S LONG WAIL
AROUSED THE TOWNSPEOPLE EARLY SUNDAY MORNING.
FIRE, THAT BROKE OUT IN
THE WRECKAGE ALMOST INSTANTLY, CLIMAXED THE HORROR OF THE SPECKACLE
AND AMIDST THE SHRIEKINGS OF A CAR OF SWINE, THE EXPLOSIONS OF
BARRELS OF GASOLINE, THE GLARE AND HEAT OF THE HUGE TONGUES OF FLAME
THAT LEAPED HEAVENWARD AND THE EXCITED SHOUTING AND HURRY OF FRANTIC
CITIZENS, THE SCENE WAS TO TERROR STRICKEN WASHBURN A HIDEOUS
THE CAR OF HOGS, WHICH WAS
IN THE MIDST OF THE MOST DAMAGED SECTION OF THE TRAIN BEFORE THE
FLAMES GAINED HEADWAY WAS BROKEN OPEN AND THE ANIMALS WERE
LIBERATED. THE BADLY INJURED ANIMALS WERE MERCIFULLY KILLED. THE
HALF CARLOAD OF GASOLINE AND TEN CARLOADS OF SPIRITS FROM THE PEORIA
DISTILLERIES FURNISHED RICH FUEL FOR THE HUNGRY FLAMES, AND THE SKY
WAS IGNITED UP FOR MILES AROUND. THE LOSS ON THE BURNED SPIRITS,
1120 BARRELS OF WHISKEY, GIN AND HIGH WINES IS BETWEEN $4,500 AND
$7,000 PER CAR.
AT 4 O’CLOCK IN THE
MORNING A SPECIAL TRAIN BROUGHT SURGEONS FROM PEORIA FOR THE INJURED
TRAINMEN. THEY WERE TAKEN ABOARD THE TRAIN AND HURRIED TO A PEORIA
PHOTOS OF THIS WRECK CAN
BE FOUND IN THE WASHBURN 1851-1976 YESTERDAY AND TODAY
QUASQUICENTENNIAL EDITION, PAGE 24.
HEAD-ON COLLISION AT LOCAL STATION
ACCORDING TO THE METAMORA
HERALD ISSUE OF MARCH 19, 1918, A TRAIN COLLISION OCCURRED HERE AT
THE METAMORA STATION
TUESDAY AFTERNOON AT 3:48 PM
WHEN A NORTHBOUND TRAIN NO. 62 EVIDENTLY OVERLOOKED TEMPORARY ORDERS
THAT CAUSED A HEAD-ON COLLISION WITH SOUTHBOUND TRAIN NO. 65. THERE
WAS SMASHING OF THE PILOTS AND OTHER DAMAGE TO THE FRONT OF BOTH
LOCOMOTIVES. WHILE A FEW PASSENGERS SUSTAINED MINOR CUTS AND
BRUISES IN BEING THROWN FROM THEIR SEATS, ALL WERE FRIGHTENED.
SEVERAL OTHERS RECEIVED SLIGHT CUTS AND BRUISES. THE MECHANISM OF
EITHER WAS NOT DAMAGED AND BOTH WERE ABLE TO PROCEED WITH THEIR
CHICAGO AND ALTON RAILROAD
The railroad from Wenona
to Metamora was completed by August of 1870. Workmen were rapidly
approaching Washington. The line from Dwight to Washington opened
for service on December 11, 1870. An accommodation train ran north
on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and south on Monday, Wednesday and
As late as 1923, there
were fifteen trains a day coming through including four mail trains
and six passenger trains with sleep and dining cars running from
Peoria to Chicago. A ticket to Peoria by way of Washington cost
sixty-five cents. Round trip fare to Peoria was $1.32. People
often took the 6 p.m. train to Peoria returning home on the midnight
train. At the peak of passenger travel $900 to $1000 worth of train
tickets were sold in a month. Although passenger service ended in
1930, a passenger train known as the “Toonerville Trolley” ran from
Washington to Dwight for several years. After that the station
agent was busy with freight trains carrying cattle, grain and coal.
Mr. William J. Williams was our agent for fifty-nine years. By 1968
he was overseeing four stations-Metamora, Cazenovia, Lowpoint and
Washburn. On September 15, 1979 the line was abandoned.
The depot was dismantled
in 1980 and remains in private storage. The tracks were removed in
1983-1984. Today, stone arch railroad bridges can still be seen
along Route 89 north to Cazenovia.
Some of the above
information was researched by Paul Stringham, a Peoria Historian.
History and photos submitted by
Shirley A. Adams.