LeMars Sentinel, July 7, 1916

Seems Little Short of a Miracle to Those Who Saw the Wreck That Some of the People in the Cars Were Not Killed

The Chicago passenger train on the Illinois Central which is due in LeMars at 7:02 a.m. went into the ditch four miles east of LeMars on Wednesday morning and to those who saw the wreck it seems little short of a miracle that some of the passengers were not killed and others severely hurt. The accident occurred just east of the crossing near J.J. Elliott’s place, while the train was running at thirty miles an hour or faster. The engine, tender, baggage car, mail car, the smoker and chair car left the rails. The baggage and express car turned over on its side and landed almost at right angles to the track. The tender, which was the first to leave the rails, was on its side when the train stopped and the tracks that had been under it were back of the baggage car. Tracks were torn from under the mail and smoking cars which plowed down through the soft earth on the south side of the embankment. Neither the mail, smoking or chair car overturned, although the latter was left tilted at quite an angle. Engineer Frank Rogers stuck to his post and was uninjured. His fireman also stayed with the engine and suffered only slight bruises. H. Hurlburt, the expressman, who was in his car when it upset, received quite a few bruises and had one ear badly cut. When he crawled out of the car he was bespattered with blood, mud and grease and that he escaped more serious injuries is marvelous. It all happened so suddenly that all the passengers seemed more or less stunned by the shock, but none were seriously hurt and all were able to walk to the train which brought them to LeMars. The streetcoaches, with which the train is equipped throughout, were no doubt responsible for the fact that there was no loss of life and only minor injuries to the passengers and train crew. Rotten ties where the cars first left the track may have caused the accident. The track was torn up for about 200 feet, but the wrecking crew soon built a track around the damaged cars so that the afternoon trains got by as usual. Two wrecking outfits were at work all day clearing up the debris and getting the cars back on the track. So far as could be observed little damage was done the cars further than tearing some of the tracks from beneath them, as they ploughed up the dirt. There were several LeMars passengers on the train, but none of them were hurt.

News of the wreck reached LeMars shortly after it occurred and there was a continual procession of automobiles out to the scene of the accident all day.

A. Tappen, Glen Keister, Oscar Hart, and Clinton Diehl were among the passengers on the train.

Mr. Tappen and Mr. Hart were seated in the day coach, which was overturned. Tappen said he felt a slight jar and Hart lurched against him as the shock came and he was thrown against the window. The coach was nearly full, most of the passengers being women. Mr. Tappen said it was remarkable how little excitement there was and how well the people, especially the ladies kept their heads. When the passengers got out of the coach, Tappen and Hart walked up the track and were surprised to see what had happened.  They noticed a hand stretching out of the window of the express car and, with the trainmen, hurried up and saw Hurlburt, the only man injured. His head and face were covered with blood and he was smeared all over with milk and grease. When the car had overturned, he was hit with a milk can.
Roy Ferguson, of Mason City, was in LeMars on Wednesday and Thursday. He was a passenger on the train which was wrecked east of town on Wednesday morning. Mr. Ferguson said he was half asleep at the time, sitting in the smoker, and the first thing he knew he was lying on his back on the floor of the car several seats ahead of the place where he was sitting before the shock came.

LeMars Globe-Post, July 13, 1916

One of the worst railroad wrecks as well as one of the most fortunate
for passengers and employees that ever occurred in this section of the
country happened Wednesday  morning between Le Mars and Oyens when the
Illinois Central Flyer known as the Chicago Limited NO 611, west bound
drawn by engine No. 1129 was derailed, rotten ties to have been the
cause of the wreck. The scene of the accident was two miles this side of
Oyens, just at the beginning of the curve and at a point where it is
said that the train usually travels at a rate of 50 to 55 miles per
hour. The rear of the engine was derailed and the whole tipped to one
side. The tender was derailed and turned over on the side. The baggage
car was thrown across the ditch made by the grade and was lying with the
rear end projecting into the public highway, which follows the railroad
track at that point. The mail car was thrown off the grade and stood
tipped to one side at the bottom of the ditch. The smoker and two day
coaches were derailed and were all standing at a slant on the grade with
their trucks partially or completely buried. The trucks of the tender
and baggage car were cut off as neatly as though severed with a knife
and were left standing on the grade where the track had been, about
ninety yards of it having been swept off completely. Considerable amount
of credit must be given to the engineer and fireman for their nerve in
sticking to their engine until the train had been stopped, and also to
the passengers for the minimum amount of excitement shown. When
everything had quieted down the passengers, who had by that time crawled
out or walked out of the coaches, were checked up and everyone accounted

~Transcribed and submitted by Linda Ziemann, Plymouth County Coordinator




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