Metamora Trains

 

Depot

1914 Passenger Train

Old Advertisement March 1918 Train Schedule

          

 MOST 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 WASHBURN

     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 MYSTERY.

     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 NIGHTMARE. 

     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 HOSPITAL.

     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 TRAINS.

 

CHICAGO AND ALTON RAILROAD HISTORY

     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 Friday. 

     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.

 

 
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Send any old photos and related stories concerning the Metamora Village Park to Shirley A. Adams, PO Box 288, Metamora, IL 61548.

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