Archive for the ‘Tara’ Category


Fireman Lou Pray Injured

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: June 1, 1904

Fireman Lou Pray Injured

His Foot Crushed in an Accident at Tara Monday – Caught Between Car and Water Tank

Louis Pray is confined to his home suffering from a crushed foot as a result of an accident of which he was the victim Monday night. Pray is a fireman employed by the Illinois Central and was on his engine bound west at the time of the accident. From what can be learned the mishap was due to a string of cars not being “clear” on a sidetrack at Tara. As the engine was passing the cars Pray’s foot was caught between them and the tank in the tender and painfully hurt.


A Wild Gravel Car Causes Commotion

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Sept. 6, 1904

A Wild Gravel Car Causes Commotion

A Broken Flange Allows Trucks to Jump the Track

Ran Three Miles on the Ties

But the Car which was in Middle of Train was not Ditched and Train Came Across Bridge into the city Safely

With death trailing grimly in the rear, and all unconscious of the terrible peril, that was pursuing them, a gravel train crew on the Illinois Central, experienced a thrilling escape last night.

From about half the distance between here and Tara, clear to the depot, a wild car, loaded with gravel, bumped along on the tied, smashing the track, and threatening to ditch the train at every lunge.

There is a down grade nearly all the distance and the train was running at a furious speed. The flanges broke on one side of the car, which was located about the middle of the train, and the dumb peril, lunged about in a wild effort to free tiself from the bonds which held it. Today, the trainmen are wondering how the car could have been pulled so great a distance without wrecking the entire train.

However, trainmen are accustomed to face death and peril in a hundred different and unexpected forms, and today, the engineer of the gravel train is smiling grimly, as he thinks of that ride, with death, as an unannounced companion, as it sat beside him in the engine cab.

Today, a crew of workmen is engaged in repairing the damage which the wild car did to the track. It will require fifteen kegs of bolts, fifteen kegs of spikes and fifteen barrels of braces to repair the damage. On the Des Moines river bridge, where the wild car was hurled across on the ties, nearly all the heads of the bolts are severed, and will have to be replaced. For the entire distance the wild car left its trail of destruction which bears mute testimony to the deadly peril in which the train crew made that perilous ride.


Tara Man Found Dead on Tracks

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(Editor’s note: This story is one where they didn’t hold back in describing the injuries to the young man who died. Not for the faint of heart.)

The Fort Dodge Daily Chronicle: July 5, 1913

Tara Man Found Dead on Tracks

J.W. Sheker’s Mangled Body Found by Section Hand

Relatives and Others Say Foul Play

Man Had About Fifty Dollars Upon His Person When He Left Fort Dodge – Tramps Around Tara

Was Joseph Sheker, 23 years of age, killed by an Illinois Central train or was he robbed and then placed on the railway tracks to be run over by a train? That is the question which is being asked today by relatives and friends of the man whose remains were found hear the section house at Tara early yesterday morning by a section hand when he went to get some tools. The mangled remains were scattered for a distance of fifteen feet along the track.

When Sheker left his home in Tara for Fort Dodge Thursday afternoon he had a check for $39, $15 in bills and $11 in his socks. When found he had $2.17 in his pockets and $11 in his socks. Just before leaving for Tara, about 8 o’clock he had no opportunity to spend any large part of it. A watch with a broken crystal was also found on Sheker. It had stopped at 11:30, so it is supposed that he was hit by the train at that time.

Friends claim that Sheker had been sitting at the station house at Tara from 10:00 to 11:00 o’clock at the very latest. He was the last of ten to depart for his home which was up the track two miles, where he is engaged as a pumper by the Illinois Central.

Not more than one half hour before the man left this place there were three tramps hanging around. They left a short time before he stated that he was gonig home.

The supposition of relatives and friends is that the tramps laid in wait for Sheker and then robbed him, probably hilling him. Then being frightened they put his body on the track and when the train came thru it disposed of all traces of the crime, were there one. This theory is strengthened by the position in which the remains were lying. It is claimed by man that had the man been walking down the track and had been hit, his body would have been found on one side of the track, and not mangled in the manner in which it was found. They say that the body was cut into pieces, just as if it had been laid across the track. Some say that the man might have been under the influence of liquor, but others testified today that he was sober.

It was stated by Coroner Lowry this morning that in his opinion there was no foul play. The jury composed of William Dermer, Clayton Brown and Guy Ryther returned the following verdict:

“Joseph Sheker came to his death at Tara on the night of July 3d, by being run over by a train.”

It was brought out in the testimony that the man had been drinking, but that he did not appear to be intoxicated when at Tara, shortly before he met death.

It was also stated that the man’s knuckles looked as if they had been fighting, as they were bruised. Others say this could have been secured when he was hit by the train.

Born in County

Joseph Sheker was born in Webster County March 12, 1890. He secured his early eduction in the rural schools. For some time past he has been employed by the Illinois Central railroad as a pumper at the water tank near Tara. He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Mrazek, his father Frank Sheker, one sister Clara Sheker and several half-brothers, all of this county.

Funeral services will be held from the later residence near Tara tomorrow noon. Interment will be made at the Elkhorn township cemetery.

The Fort Dodge Messenger: July 5, 1913

Pumpman for I.C. at Tara Killed by Train Last Night

Joseph Sheker, 23, Found Early Yesterday

Watch Stopped at 11:30

Three Tramps Tell Engineer G.M. Alger of Death

Inquest Held This Morning

Sheker’s Body was in Awful Condition, Having Been Ground Up By Train – Foul Play is Suspected – Had Been Here July Third.

Joseph Sheker of Tara, pumpman for the Illinois Central Railroad, was run over and killed by an Illinois Central train some time during the night of July 3. He was a young man tweenty three years of age and was single. He has been living with his step father about two miles west of Tara for the past two years.

The exact circumstances of the death of Sheker probably never ill be known. His body, crushed and torn to pieces with his head severed from the rest of his body was discovered yesterday at 5:30 a.m. by an Illinois Central freight crew about one fourth of a mile west of Tara.

Tramps Tell Trainmen

G.M. Alger, a member of the crew on the train was one of the first to reach the body of Sheker. He said this morning that they had just pulled into Tara when three “bums” came running up and breathlessly informed them that there was a man lying all cut up on the track.

With others of the crew, Alger immediately went to the place and there discovered the body of Sheker cut up almost beyond recognition. A paper with the name of Sheker on identified the man. Coroner Lowry of this city was immediately notified and this body of Sheker was brought to this city.

Watch Stopped at 11:30

It is probably that an Illinois Central fruit train which passed through Tara shortly after 11:00 p.m. was the one that ran over Sheker. The watch which he carried was found in  his clothes and had stopped at exactly 11:30. It is also known that Sheker left friends in Tara about 11:00 and at that time was starting for his home.

Spent afternoon here.

Sheker came to Fort Dodge about 2:00 p.m. July 3. He spent the afternoon in the city, cashed a check and left for his home with another young man. The two drove in a buggy.

The two arrived in Tara about 10:00 p.m. They stopped at the Banwell residence and talked for some time. According to those who talked with Sheker then, he had been drinking some although he did not appear to be drunk. George Banwell was probably the lst to talk to Sheker whom he left at 11:00.

Friends of Sheker this morning declared that the circumstances surrounding the death of the young man give a possibility of foul play. Sheker came to this city with over fifteen dollars in money and a check for $29 which he cashed at 7:00 p.m. He left for his home at 8:00. When his body was discovered the sum of $11 in paper was found in his sock and some silver amounting to $2.17 in his pockets.

“Sheker drank a little in Fort Dodge but was perfectly sober when he reached Tara” said one of the young men who talked to him a few minutes before he was killed. “It does not seem reasonable that he would have been in the way of the train and then what became of his money? I believe that he was robbed and maybe killed after which his body was thrown on the track.”

Inquest this morning.

The inquest over the body of Sheker was held before Coroner Lowry in the court house this morning. The verdict was that Joseph Sheker met his dath some time during the night of July third, being run over by an Illinois Central train. The jury was composed of William Dermer, Clayton Brown and Guy Ryther.


Amateur Ball Players Busy

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: June 29, 1903

Amateur Ball Players Busy

Several Fort Dodge Teams Played From Home on Sunday.

Fort Brands Have Hard Luck

Lose Two Extra Innings Games By One Score – East Fort Dodge Loses Close Game at Lehigh – R.M. Stevens Nine Beats Tara.

The Fraser miners defeated the Fort Dodge Fort Brands Sunday at Frazer by a score of 4 to 3 in a thirteen inning game. The game opened at 10:30 a.m. After the first two Fort Dodge men had struck out in the first inning, Dombrowska reached first on an error. Whitman and Barth on bunts and all three scored on Stuart’s drive to deep right. This ended Fort Dodge’s scoring as the Frazer pitcher struck out twenty men in the remaining twelve innings and held the Fort Dodge boys helpless. Frazer scored three runs in the second inning by bunching hits. Stuart’s work at third was the feature of the game. He accepted eleven chances, seven assists and four putouts without an error.

In the eleventh inning with two men on base, Whitman got and (sic) easy grounder and threw his man out at first. Ottosen threw to third to cut off the runner. The throw was  high, but the little third baseman speared the ball with his ungloved hand and completed the double by tagging his man three feet off the base.

With enthusiasm undiminished by their defeat, a forty mile ride and twelve miles cross country triy (sic), the Fort Brands tackled the Pilot Mound Pirates at 3:30 p.m. Pilot Mound won, 7 to 8, aided by a long-haired diamond and the umpire. If Captain Tyrell had called his team off the diamond Pilot Mound would have refused expense money. Nevertheless this game required eleven innings, the umpire finally forcing in the winning run by letting a man walk on balls that cut the plate in two.

The Fort Brands play the East End next Sunday at Riverside Park and a good game is expected.


Excursionists Are “Buncoed” at Tara

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: June 20, 1905

Excursionists Are “Buncoed” at Tara

Small Boys Reap Harvest by Selling Them Colored Water For Beer.

Every Trainload Would “Bite”

Young Grafters Managed to Sell a Dozen or So Bottles on Each Train Before the Ruse Would Be Found Out.

Among the amusing incidents that have developed during the past few days, in connection with the events of  Sunday’s excursion to Chicago there is none so ingenius (sic) in its nature or so mirth provoking as a story which has been reported from Tara.

In that place, it seems a number of small boys hearing of the size and nature of the excursion, secured some two or three days before the day set, a number of empty beer bottles and during their spare hours filled them with colored water and by means of a little ingenius work sealed and labeled them, making them look very similar to bottles fresh from the establishments from which the amber fluid is sent forth.

As fast as a train would pull into the station the youngsters would pass along the platform with an arm-full of bottles offering them for sale to the excursionists at twenty-five cents each. A dozen or so bottles would be sold before the trick would be “tumbled” to but by that time the train would be ready to pull out and the “buncoed” excursionists would be without recourse.

The boys would simply wait until the next train pulled in and then the trick would be worked over again on a fresh crowd. Out of the fifteen or sixteen trains that passed through the town, it is said the youthful grafters cleared a total of forty or fifty dollars.

(Editor’s note: The 2010 equivalent is $5.99 each for the “beers” and $956 to $1,197 total.)


The Fort Dodge Messenger: June 5, 1893

Strange Sights and Sounds Be These

Grim Ghosts are Haunting the Rock Island Bridge Over the North Lizzard.

There may not be any ghosts holding high carnival nights on the Rock Island bridge over the North Lizzard, but there are a number of railway employes (sic) and people in that vicinity who cannot be convinced of that fact. Conductor Joe Donald, of the Rock Island, is one of these. His brother is another. The operator at Tara has seen a few things that he cannot explain, and Section Foreman Chelgren has also had  his hair raised by strange sights and sounds. Any number of curious Tara people can also be produced as witnesses to prove that the bridge is “haunted.”

The bridge in question is a small wooden pile bridge over the North Lizzard, three-quarters of a mile north of Tara. It was on this bridge that William Roberts, a young man working with a pile driving crew, lost his life a couple of years ago, being killed by a (paragraph ends here and is continued later) flying pile. Since then the railway men have been more or less afraid of the bridge, but until recently saw nothing on which to base their suspicions.

Section Foreman Chelgren “saw” the operator’s story and went  him several better a few evenings later. He was returning after nightfall with his section men, pumping away cheerfully on a hand car and figuring on getting to their belated supper just as soon as possible. As they neared the North Lizzard bridge all the men noticed the light of a locomotive apparently moving on the bridge. they stopped the hand car with a jerk and hustled the car off the track to let the train pass. The light came no nearer and after waiting a while they put the car back on the rails and slowly pumped up to the bridge. As they approached it the light grew dimmer and dimmer and finally disappeared. There was no sight or sound of a train. A superstitious fear came over the crowd of men and they did not have the courage to cross the bridge.

They waited talking to each other in awe stricken whispers. Suddenly strange sounds floated out on the night air with startling distinctness. The listeners heard the clanking and rattling of machinery and then a dull thud like the falling hammer of a pile driver. Then again came silence. The men were badly rattled and were afraid to cross the bridge. Finally they took the hand car down the track and giving it a good start sent it rattling over the bridge, without any occupants. It crossed in safety and they followed on foot with fear and trembling.

Since then a number of skeptical Tara citizens have seen the strange sights and heard the ghostly pile driving and the town is in a ferment of excitement over the affair. Ghost hunting partied are organized every evening but no one has as yet captured his ghostship.

The station agent at Tara was the first to discover the “harnt.” One evening he had just closed up the office and was going home for the night when he glanced up the track and saw the head light of a locomotive apparently on the bridge. He immediately jumped to the conclusion that a special train was coming and that the train dispatcher at Des Moines had failed to notify him. He rushed back to his instrument and ticked off a message to Des Moines, asking about the “special” that  had stopped on the bridge near Tara. He got a reply informing him that a Roman chariot race was probably occurring in his head. The operator was mystified and walked out to the bridge to investigate. When he got to the trestle there was no light and no sign of any train. He lost no time in getting back to Tara.


Central Freight Train in Bad Smash-Up

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 19, 1906

Unidentified train crash

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.

Hedman Missed.

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.

Injuries Serious.

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.)