The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 19, 1906
Derailed train car from unidentified wreck.
Central Freight Train in Bad Smash-Up
Broke in Two and One Section Returning Along Line Struck the Other
E.J. Hedman Seriously Hurt
Imprisoned For an Hour Beneath Wreckage Finally Rescued.
Freight Cars Demolished
Accident Occurred Eleven O’clock Saturday Night About Three Miles West of City – Investigation is Being held.
As a result of the parting of a train on the steep Tara Hill, Elmer J. Hedman of this city lies dangerously injured at his home on the West Side while the Illinois Central is the loser by several cars, besides delay to traffic. The accident occurred shortly after ten o’clock Saturday night, tow and three quarters miles west of Fort Dodge, on the reverse curve and at the foot of its steepest portion.
A train composed of sixteen loaded cars and two empties was sent west from Fort Dodge about 10:30 p.m. in charge of night Yardmaster Oscar Rhodes. Engine No. 107 a local yard engine was pulling the train and was in charge of Engineer Bowen and Fireman Hartnett. Engine 170 another yard engine in charge of Engineer Mater was pushing the train.
Yardmaster Rhodes had as his assistants, three members of two yard crews, Foreman Maxwell, and Helpers Hedman and Ashman. Elmer J. Hedman was ordered to go ahead, and ride on the forward engine, while the remainder of the men stayed in the caboose.
The train was made up of cars that were destined for western points, and on account of the congested condition of the local yard, were to be taken out and stored in the Tara yards.
Train Parts at Bridge.
A littel (sic) west of the Des Monies (sic) river bridge, the train broke in two parts. the men on the forward section noticed that the engine handled the train unusually easy. Hedman immediately went out on top of the cars, and discovered the break.
He signaled for the train to stop and after waiting a short time the train proceeded back under caution. Hedman rode on the forward car which was filled with rosin. At a point two and three quarters miles west of Fort Dodge, Hedman noticed the other section coming up the hill, but apparently those men had not discovered the break, for the train was running along a good speed, and without any man on the head car.
Gives Danger Signal.
Herman (sic) quickly hurled his lantern in the air, which is the emergency stop signal, and then dropped flat on the car. Fireman Hartnett saw the signal and the engines were quickly stopped, but not before the crash came.
Hedman says that he knew nothing after he dropped on the car, but he was evidently hurled into the air, and fell on his head in the cinders along the track. The car of rosin being the lightest loaded was the first to break and Hedman was covered with the wreckage, while the rosin covered his body completely.
The crews of the two engines hurried to Hedman’s rescue, but for a half hour not a sign of him could be found. Then the first engine was sent ahead to Tara to give the alarm to prevent the night passenger from crashing into the wreck.
After telegraphing the alarm, the engine again came back to the wreck, but the men had meanwhile found the injured man, or rather he had found them, for he crawled out unaided from the wreck. The men say that the rosin dust blinded and stifled them, while the darkness made their work slower.
Just as the other engine was coming back from Tara the men heard Hedman’s voice, as he was apparently talking to himself. Even then they could not find him, but he managed to drag himself although badly injured from the wrecked cars. The cars were piled high above the track, and four of them were locked into a space not much longer than an ordinary car length.
Hedman was tenderly carried into the caboose, and one engine started back for Fort Dodge. The injured man was taken to his home in the ambulance, and the company physician with assistants was called. It was found that his left hip was dislocated, and the several deep cuts and bruises were on his head.
One cut over an inch in diameter was found in the skull over the left eye. This cut was into the bone, and another one much longer and deeper was in his cheek under the eye. This cut was also down to the bone. Another gash was found in his mouth, while still another was found behind his ear. Every wound was filed (sic) with cinders and rosin.
The danger from these foreign substances in the wounds in (sic) great. The cuts will leave deep scars and disfigure him. both eyes are injured, the left being closed completely, while the right can just be opened. It is not thought that the sigh of either eye will be impaired.
Internal Injuries Feared.
It was at first feared that internal injures might develop, but as his pulse and temperature are yet good, it is hoped that he had not suffered any. his injures are serious, yet not necessary (sic) fatal.
Hedman until a few months ago was chief clerk in the freight office, but resigned this position to take the work of switchman in order to have an out door life. During this time, the man has been injured twice.
Hedman is a young man and one of the best known railroad men on this line. He is well liked by everyone, and the news of his injury has caused much sorrow. He was captain of the railroad baseball team, and was an indoor player of ability, and so is known to many outside of the railroads.
“The Wreck Conditions.”
As soon as Hedman had been taken to his home, the switch engine with a wrecking crew was sent back to the accident. The crew worked all night, and at last shoved the cars from the rails. At 5:20 the line was clear again, and the midnight trains on the M. &St. L., and the Central were let by also the morning trains.
Soon after the wrecker was again sent out and the work lasted all Sunday. The wrecking outfit is still working at a late hour this afternoon, cleaning up the debris. Four cars were totally destroyed, while others were more or less damaged.
The wreckers state that even with daylight no one could tell whether there were one or two cars ruined, as all were so tightlly wedged together. The men counted the car wheels, and thus were able to tell.
The car on which Hedman was standing was filled with rosin, the car back of it was filled with pig iron, while the two other destroyed were filled with coal and lumber. The car of rosin being the lightest was destroyed in a twinkling, and the others lasted a little longer. The ease with which these cars broke in parts acted as a buffer, thus saving the others to a certain extent.
Superintendent Jones’ Statement.
F.M. Jones superintendent of this division of the Central when seen by a Messenger representative gave out a few statements concerning the accident as follows: “The accident occurred two and three quarters miles west of the city, and the train was in charge of Night Yardmaster Rhodes.”
He said the financial loss would probably be $1,200 or $1,500, that complete investigation had not been held and that until it was he would not be in a position to make any assertions concerning the cause of the wreck, or who was to blame.
When asked concerning the rules governing a case when a train breaks in two, he answered by showing the rule book. The rule says that the rear section shall be stopped and then remain stationary, but that the forward section shall run back, to the rear section, but shall be preceded by a flagman.
This rule, however, does not seem to govern the case, in that the men on the rear section did not know of the parting. when asked concerning this Mr. Jones replied that the rule should be followed. A very thor0ugh investigation will be held, and the responsibility places.
Further than this Mr. Jones said he could not say. He said that when the investigation was completed, the road might be willing to announce further particulars, but not as yet.
(Editor’s note: I believe the M. &St. L. is Minneapolis and St. Louis, but I’ll check into it to be sure.)