Archive for the ‘Railroad accident’ Category


George M’Nett is killed

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The Evening Messenger, Dec. 11, 1901
George M’Nett is killed
Fireman on Central Meets Terrible Fate on Tuesday
Thrown Under Car Wheels
Struck by Bridge and Thrown to His Death. Make His Home in This City

When passenger No. 4, on the Central pulled into Fort Dodge at 11 o’clock this morning, it bore a sad burden, the mangled body of Fireman George McNett, who full of the vigor of healthful manhood, left the city on freight No. 51, early Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. McNett was killed at a bridge not far from Brogan, a little station just the other side of Wall Lake. He was thrown from the engine, and either fell, or was drawn by suction, under the wheels, which mangled the body terribly before the train, which was running at a rapid rate, could be brought to a stand still. As nearly as can be learned, Mr. McNett was leaning out of the cab for a drink of water from the tank, when the train came to the bridge. He was stooping, but the bridge was low and struck him, throwing him from his hold and hurling him to his death under the iron wheels below. Death must have been instantaneous.

Engineer Clarke brought h is train to a stand still as quickly as possible, and the mangled body was picked up and taken on board the train. John Fox, a fireman who was on the train learning the route, fired the train into Omaha. Mr. McNett spent his boyhood days in this city and had been living in Fort Dodge two years, having moved here from Livermore. During this time he has been in the employ of the Illinois Central railroad, and has made many friends among the railroad boys. He was a careful man, and one who seemed in little danger of a death such as befell him. He was married and leaves a wife and little daughter, Bessie, five years old. Mrs. McNett is almost prostrated by the shock, but is bearing up under it as well as could be expected.

Mrs. McNeil, the mother of Mrs. McNett, who has been visiting her daughter, Mrs. Clint Githens, in Des Moines, has been summoned by wire, and arrived this morning, accompanied by her daughter, who will remain until after the funeral.

Mr. McNett was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, and was insured in that order for $2,000 ($3,536.45 today). He was a member and faithful attendant of Sacred Heart church. He was 30 years old.
His companions on the road will have charge of the funeral, which will probably be held from the Sacred Heart church. The time cannot, as yet, be definitely announced.


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.


Engine Knocks House to Kindling

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Jan. 6, 1905

Engine Knocks House to Kindling

No. 26 on the C.G.W. Returning from Lehigh Demolishes a House.

Was on the Right of Way

Was a Two Story Structure, 16×24 and Was Being Moved by Wood and Fortney – Engine No. 26 was Slightly Damaged.

Engine No. 26, of the Great Western, when returning from Lehigh last night in charge of Engineer Schoonmaker and Fireman Tennant, ran into a house which was on the right of way, and split it into kindling wood, as well as damaging the engine to such an extent that it will be laid up for repairs for some time.

The accident is decidedly a peculiar one and perhaps anything similar to it has never happened before, and decidedly not in this part of the country. It happened about two miles from Fort Dodge, between here and Carbon, and a firm named Wood and Fortney were moving a good sized, two story house, the house resting on wagon wheels.

They were on the Great Western right of way and not on any public highway when the accident occurred, and had given no notice whatever to the company, that they would be near the track when any train passed.

Just as the Lehigh train appeared, coming back to Fort Dodge, the house movers became aware of their predicament, and knowing that it was too late to get the house out of the way, they unhitched the horses and go thtem and themselves out of danger.

The train came on and was two (sic) near, when the danger was noticed, for Engineer Schoonmaker to stop the engine.

The engine ran full into the house and came out badly crippled on the other side, leaving a shower of kindling wood on both sides of the track. Knowing that nothing could be done Fireman Tennant had jumped and was uninjured but Engineer Schoonmaker, who stayed on the engine was badly was badly skined (sic) and bruised.

They  managed to get the engine up to the yards here, but it is so badly crippled that it will need a great deal of repairing.

The house was said to be a two story structure about 16×24 in size, and there is practically nothing of it left except the kindling wood.

The Fort Dodge Messenger: May 18, 1903

Great Western Engine Served as Sand Plow

Left the Track and Sunk Clear Up to the Hubs in the Right of Way

An accident that resulted very happily, considering how serious it might have been, happened about 5 o’clock this morning in the Chicago Great Western yards. The track repairers have been at work for some time past in theyeards, repairing the track, and have used mostly sand and cinders as ballast. This usually makes a firm bed for the rails, and the tracks in the yards were considered perfectly safe.

Train No. 162, a way freight train due here about 5 a.m., was just pulling into the yards, and was running slowly, when it struck a bad point in the track, and it ran along of its own momentum for about twenty yards. The sand which formed the roadbed was loose and the huge engine sunk nearly to the hubs of the great driver. The left side riding on the ties, was held up, but the right side sunk until it was feared that the whole machine would capsize. As it was, it careened so that but a slight movement was needed to throw it over entirely.

Engineer Keltz stuck to his post, expecting every moment to see the engine topple over. His fireman, Tennant, stood in the door on the opposite side, ready to jump, but fortunately neither had ocsacion (sic) to. No one was injured and the wrecking crew soon had the engine back on the rails again.


No One Held For The Accident

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 23, 1906

(Editor’s note: This is an extremely long article. It took nearly six full columns in the original paper and was difficult to type. It is likely that there are errors in the text which were unintentional. I grouped the question and answer portion of the coroner’s inquest in order to make it easier to read. I will also include the March 24, 1906, funeral notice for Walter Cutting here, instead of in a separate post.)

No One Held For The Accident

Coroner’s Jury does Not Blame any One for Death of Walter Cutting.

Verdict Gives Causes Only

Interesting Testimony Comes Out When Coroner’s Jury Has Session – Most Valuable Testimony That of Brown and Todd.

■ ■ ■

Jury’s Verdict.

An inquisition holden (sic) at Fort Dodge In Webster County, Iowa on the 22nd day of March A.D. 1906, before A.H. McCreight, coroner of said county upon the body of W.E. Cutting, there lying dead, by the jurors whose names are hereto subscribed; the said jurors upon their oaths, do say that W.E. Cutting came to his death at 4:00 a.m. March 22, 1906, in Duncombe, Webster County, Iowa, death being caused by dislocation of his neck at a result of failing or jumping from engine No. 1005 on the I.C.R.R.

In testimony whereof the said jurors have hereunto set their hands the day and year aforesaid.

James D. Lowry
W.W. Haire
Coroners Jury.

A.H. McCreight

■ ■ ■

The coroner’s jury which was impaneled Thursday morning, spent Thursday afternoon at the scene of the wreck, and held its meeting for the examination of witnesses in the evening. At the evening session most interesting, and most valuable testimony was taken. As will be noticed in the above verdict no blame it laid against the company or any man.

The crews of both trains were all examined, and their testimony was all in harmony, to one who heard the entire testimony it would be hard to place the blame on any one in particular. Every man seems to have done his best to prevent the wreck, and the latter was caused by a combination of circumstances, which were not to be foreseen.

The testimony of Engineer Brown, the first engineer on the lead train naturally was the most valuable with the exception of that of Brakeman Todd, the flagman for the freight train. Their testimony is given in full below, and is well worth reading, as it brings out many points, that are a mystery to the average person.

Train Can’t Stop Quickly.

It will be noticed that brown gives out that he thinks the flagman was 400 feet above the passenger depot, or about 1,500 or 1,600 feet from the switch. In Todd’s testimony the latter says he was as far above the depot as the switch was below it, which would make him over 2,000 feet from the scene of the wreck.

Either distance to the non railroad man, would seem ample space in which to stop a train, however C.A. Bryant, who is well versed in such matters says that the record for stopping a train going at that speed is over 1,400 feet. This train which was a test train by the Westinghouse Air Brake Company only consisted of five cars and one engine, thus being half the tonnage of No. 1. The Central train then could hardly be expected to stop within less than 2,000 feet when running at a speed of from sixty-five to seventy miles an hour.

Second Crews Statements

The testimony of Engineer Stark the second engineer on this train was like that of engineer Brown, with the exception that he did not see the danger signal, but merely shut off his engine after Brown whistled him. He then cut in on the air to see if Brown’s air was working right and finding that it was, let the first engineer continue to apply the air. Then after sanding the track, and reversing the engine he jumped. The testimony of his fireman Mr. Wood was also of like nature.

Dispatchers Testimony

The testimony of conductor McCarthy with his baggageman and brakeman was as to the speed the train was running, and of the proceedings after the accident. The testimony of Dispatcher J.E. Elkins was also taken, and he testified as to the correctness of the orders he had given the trains, namely that No. 1 was to run 49 minutes late. He did not make the meeting order for the two trains, as the freight crews are supposed to make their own meeting place with first class trains, after the dispatcher has given them the time on the train.

The testimony of conductor McNamara of the freight train was that, he  received orders like those mentioned by Mr. Elkins and that he thought his train would have plenty of time to make Duncombe. The testimony of Engineer Smith of this train was that he agreed with conductor McNamara and worked under the latter. He said that in the darkness he ran by the switch about two car lengths and that to stop the train he forced the air on hard. The air stuck then, and he had to waste two minutes pumping it up again. the freight was also a heavy one consisting of twenty-four loads and ten empties and he had to take up the slack three times in entering the siding. This all took time and is what caused his train not to get in the clear.

Headlight Seen.

The testimony of Fireman Eccelston of the freight was like that of Engineer Stark. He agreed with him concerning the time, and also about the air working hard, and the train pulling up the grade onto the switch hard. He told of giving Todd the fuses and torpedoes, and how he saw No. 1’s headlight, as Brakeman Todd left the switch.

Brakeman Brennen, the rear brake man on  the freight testified that he thought as did every member of the crew that they had plenty of time to reach Duncombe in safety, had not things been against them. When asked where he was when the train struck he made the first remark which caused, even a smile, for he answered “In a cornfield.” He said that he went forward to the switch, but that when he saw the passenger was going to strike them, he ran as far and as fast as he could. When asked how far he said until he struck a fence and got caught in it.

Officials Careful.

Every employe (sic) testified that the road was most careful in handling its trains. Their orders were first to look out for the safety of employes and the passengers. Next they should endeavor to get over the road as quickly as possible, but safety first. When asked if the officials ever countenanced the man taking chances, every man answered positively in the negative.

The drift of the men’s statements was that in railroading every man takes certain chances, and that if things go well all is well, but that if things go wrong all is wrong. they all seemed to agree that fate was against them on the fatal night.

Cutting’s Death a Sad One.

The body of the deceased man was taken to his home in Waterloo on No. 2 that evening leaving fort Dodge at 9:40 P.M. It is not known here as to whether or not the funeral will occur at Waterloo or at Iowa Falls, the home of his parents.

Cutting leaves a father and mother, several brothers an sister, besides his wife and three weeks old baby. His family is a railroad family in every sense of the word, for all of his brothers and his father are employed on the Rock Island.

The day preceding this death had been a happy one to the deceased man and as he jumped to his fate, his thoughts were of others. He told Engineer Brown repeatedly on the trip off how happy he was, for it was the first day his wife had been able to sit up in weeks. She had been up with him all evening, until the time he was called to bring out his last run. Even as he stood on the step, ready to jump, he called to Brown, “What will become of the fellows behind., they can’t see the freight.” then he leaped outward and was followed by Brown.

Cutting was popular with all his fellow employes. He was a man of excellent physical proportions, and was light hearted and friendly with all.

“Walt” he was to all of them and as they repeat the name, they check back a sob. Engineer Brown who was with him on the fated engine seems to be nearly frantic. He paces up and down constantly, talks about the accident, but but does not seem to control his nerves. He says that while he was partially conscious soon after the accident, he did not realize the awfulness of it for an hour, and then it came  back to him. He said jumping was the only thing that saved any of them. He said that his body could have been sent home by mail had he stuck tot he engine.

He had not jumped when the engine struck, but was ready to do so, and was throw (sic) far out from the rails.

Engineer Brown who was in the head engine on the passenger train was perhaps the more important witness at the inquest. His testimony was as given below:

O.M. Brown, being first duly sworn by the Coroner, testifies, as follows:

Direct Examination.

The Coroner:
Q. What is your name?
A. O.M. Brown

Q. Residence?
A. Waterloo.

Q. Occupation?
A. Locomotive engineer.

Q. How long employed?
A. Nineteen years.

Q. Where were you on March 21st and 2nd?
A. On train No. 1 coming west from Waterloo.

Q. What time did you leave Waterloo?
A. 1:50.

Q. How much later is that than usual time of the train?
A. Forty-five minutes.

Q. Did you receive any orders after you left Waterloo?
A. No sir.

Q. What were the orders received at Waterloo?
A. Run forty minutes late.

Q. How near did you come to obeying that order?
A. I was just forty minutes when I stopped at Webster City, when we got out of there were just three minutes later, makes it forty-three minutes.

Q. What time did you get into Duncombe, if you know?
A. Four o’clock.

Q. What if anything did you do when you approached near Duncombe. Which engine were you one?
A. The lead engine.

Q. Who was firing for you?
A. Mr. Cutting.

Q. And as you approached Duncombe, you whistled at the whistling post?
A. Yes sir.

Q. How far east of the station is the whistling post?
A. About a mile, I should judge.

Q. What next attracted your attention?
A. A red light.

Q. Where was this red light?
A. East of the depot.

Q. How far east of the depot, as near as you can tell?
A. Four or five hundred feet, I couldn’t tell exactly.

Q. Four or five hundred feet east of the station house you saw a red light?
A. Yes sir.

Q. Being swung across the track?
A. Yes sir.

Q. You immediately recognized that, as what?
A. Danger signal.

Q. What did you do?
A. Reached up to answer the signal, the signal is two short blasts of whistle, and my hand slipped off the whistle lever as I whistler (sic), as soon as I reached. I threw the air into emergency.

Q. What is the number of your engine?
A. One thousand and five.

Q. What about its weight, as compared with other engines?
A. Heavier than the average engine.

Q. What is true with reference to reversing those engines?
A. What is what?

Q. What is true with reference to reversing those engines, making them back up?
A. I can make them back up, yes sir.

Q. Can you do it suddenly when you are going at a high rate of speed?
A. Yes sir.

Q. Was it done in this case?
A. No sir.

Q. Would it have been safe to do it?
A. It might have stripped the engine.

Q. Would it have helped any to stop the train?
A. Oh it might and it might not. If the engine slipped, it wouldn’t have done as much good.

Q. That is what I want to know, if you did everything that was safe to do or wise to do?
A. I done everything to stop the train.

Q. Safe to do or wise to do?
A. Yes sir.

Q. How far west of the station house was it before you came to the freight train?
A. I should judge one thousand feet or a little over, I know know the exact distance.

Q. At what rate of speed were you gong when you saw the danger signal, as near as you can tell?
A. About fifty-five or sixty miles an hour.

Q. What rate of speed did you immediately assume?
A. Twelve miles an hour.

Q. Did you strike the freight train?
A. Yes sir.

Q. With your engine?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. On which side of your engine was this freight?
A. On the north side right on the near side, on my side.

Q. How near were you to this freight train before you saw the obstruction on the track?
A. I don’t know exactly how far it was.

Q. What were you instructions to the fireman when you saw there was an obstruction?
A. I cautioned him to look out.

Q. What did you both do?
A. Both jumped off.

Q. From the same side?
A. Yes sir.

Q. Same side of the engine?
A. Yes sir.

Q. On which side of the engine did you jump?
A. On the south side.

Q. You crossed over then to the fireman’s side?
A. Fireman.

Q. And after he jumped what did you do?
A. I stayed on until the last second and then I jumped.

Q. How far did the engine move after you left it.
A. I can’t tell you.

Q. The length of the engine?
A. I couldn’t tell you, just as I jumped I struck the train.

Q. Were you hurt?
A. Oh, scratched up and little bruised.

Q. Were you able to gain your feet immediately?
A. No, sir.

Q. Have you any idea of the lapse of time before you did get up and walk?
A. No, sir.

Q. What did you do when you got up?
A. I don’t remember what I did do.

Q. Did you begin looking to see how much damage was done, or looking for the other boys?
A. No, sir, not immediately, the first I remember, I was in the coach sitting on a mail sack. I don’t know how I got there or who put me there.

Coroner: The jury any questions?

Mr. Thorson:
Q. In how short a distance would it have been possible to stop that train, could it have been possible to stop it between three hundred or four hundred feet east of the station and the time it struck the other?
A. No sir, not at the rate of speed it was going.

Q. You state the rate of speed – with the heavy train that you had with two engines, what would be the shortest distance to stop?
A. I don’t know. I never was brought down to a test of that kind.

Q. How far would you say to estimate?
A. If I was getting into a town and was going to make a stop at the town I would commence braking a half a mile from the station, slow the train down gradually, may be a little sooner, if it was down hill, commence making brakes sooner.

Mr. Thorson:
Q. Did you state the distance from where the collision took place how far that was west of the depot?
A. About one thousand feet.

Coroner: Any other question?

Q. How fast do you think the train was going when you struck?
A. About twelve miles an hour.

(Signed) O.M. Brown

Witness excused.

Flagman W.C. Todd of the freight crew, a witness produced at the inquest being first duly sworn by the Coroner, testified, as follows:

Direct Examination.

Q. State your name, age and resident?
A. W.C. Todd, thirty-three, Fort Dodge

Q. Occupation.
A. Brakeman.

Q. Were you engaged in the occupation of brakeman on the morning of March 22nd?
A. yes, sir.

(no question printed here)
A. Conductor McNamara

Q. What capacity?
A. As head brakeman.

Q. What time did you leave Fort Dodge?
A. 3:05, I believe.

Q. How many loaded on your train?
A. Twenty-four.

Q. And empties?
A. Ten

Q. What were your orders, with reference to No. 1?
A. We had order, “No. 1 engine unknown, would run forty minutes late Waterloo to Fort Dodge.”

Q. What were your duties, as crew, with reference to meeting passenger train? How much time are you to give passenger trains?
A. We are to clear passenger trains ten minutes.

Q. This is the only order that you had with reference to No. 1?
A. yes, sir.

Q. Were you supposed at any and every point that you reached to determine whether or not you could give that train ten minutes at the next siding before leaving that point?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Where were you riding?
A. On the engine.

Q. Did you make any stops between Fort Dodge and Duncombe?
A. No, sir.

Q. There were no stops?
A. No, sir.

Q. Were there any signals from the conductor or rear brakeman, from the time you left Fort Dodge?
A. Not on my side of the train, I don’t know of any.

Q. You don’t know of any?
A. No, sir.

Q. When you reached Duncombe did you note the time?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What time was it?
A. 3:45.

Q. Well if No. 1 was forty minutes late, what time would No. 1 reach Duncombe?
A. That would put them out of Duncombe at 3:53.

Q. They are not supposed to stop there?
A. No, sir.

Q. And they are practically arriving and leaving at the same time?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you leave the engine to open the switch?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. How long did it take to get the engine reversed and backed up?
A. May be about two minutes.

Q. How far beyond the switch did the engine go before it stopped?
A. Nearly two car lengths.

Q. It took two minutes to release the air and back up?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Then you opened the switch?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Then the engineer attempted to start the train?
A. yes, sir.

Q. In order to carry you in on the siding?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did he have any difficulty in starting the train?
A. Yes, the train started very hard.

Q. Did he have to clack?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. In order to get it started?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. How long did you stand at the switch watching him attempt to start it?
A. Just as quick as I threw that switch I started up to flag.

Q. As soon as the switch was thrown you started to flag?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you walk?
A. No, sir, I ran.

Q. Did you get as far as the station house?
A. Yes, further than the station house.

Q. How much further?
A. Went east of the passing track.

Q. How far east of the station house was that?
A. I don’t know exactly, it must be about thirty car lengths.

Q. What length is a car?
A. About forty feet.

Q. Then, you would estimate it was twelve hundred feet.
A. About that.

Q. That is what it would figure out?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. You think you were twelve hundred feet east of the station house?
A. Well, I don’t know it was that many feet because I don’t know the length of them but I was by the passing track switch.

Q. How far from the station house?
A. About the same distance.

Q. You were about as far from the station as the switch you train was trying to make was west of the station?
A. Yes, I was about as far east of the station as our train was west of the station.

Q. What did you have with you?
A. I had a fuze and torpedo.

Q. I wish you would explain what a fuze is?
A. That is a kind of an explosive we light, that will burn a certain number of minutes, about ten.

Q. Making a red light?
Q. yes, sir.

Q. What is a torpedo?
A. Sort of a dynamite cap.

Q. Explosive?
A. Yes, sir, makes a loud noise.

Q. The torpedo is fastened to the track.
A. We fasten it to the  track.

Q. And what else?
A. White light.

Q. A flag?
A. No, sir.

Q. What did you do with your torpedo?
A. Placed it on the rail, as the passing track switch.

Q. What did you do with the fuse?
A. I lit the fuse.

Q. With a match or lantern?
A. It has sulphur (sic) on the end I struck it and had quite a little time getting it to light. I saw it wasn’t going to work very good and it went out.

Q. It didn’t work well?
A. No, sir.

A. I grabbed the switch light, which I intended to do all the way up there, because I didn’t have a red light with me. I intended to use that switch light. I thought I could make that switch in plenty of time.

Q. You grabbed the switch light –
A. Off the switch stand.

Q. And swung it across the track?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. How far east of you was train No. 1, at that time?
A. I couldn’t tell in the dark, I don’t know whether they whistled for town east of the whistle post or west of it. I was giving them stop signs before they whistled for town, and after they whistled for town, he answered my signal.

Q. He answered your signal after he whistled for town?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. After getting the answer to your signal and knowing that the engineer had received your signal, what did you do?
A. Just for an instance I stopped my signals to him to let him understand it was recognized, then I started with my signals again, as hard as I could swing them.

Q. Waved the lantern frantically?
A. Yes, sir, both lanterns, white and red.

Q. How long was it after that before the engine passed you?
A. I kept waving the lights until they passed me.

Q. How long between the time the engineer answered your signal until the engine reached you?
A. I couldn’t say.

Q. How long did it seem a minute or two minutes?
A. I couldn’t estimate how long it was.

Q. Do you have an idea how far away the train was wehn you first attempted to signal?
A. I think they must have been out there by the whistling post. I thing (sic)  that is about a mile.

Q. You had run as far as you felt it was necessary to run, it would have been useless to go any further.
(no answer printed)

Q. You signaled them as vigorously as you could?
Yes sir.

Q. How long after you began signaling them until you were answered?
A. From the time I started to signal them, I must have been in all ten car lengths running.

Q. Did you swing the lantern at that time?
A. yes, sir.

Q. This was the lantern that you had gotten from the switch, east of the station house?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. You didn’t take the lantern from the switch you first came to?
A. No, sir.

Q. You ran signaling for ten car lengths before the engineer answered?
A. yes, sir, then I stopped for a few seconds.

Mr. B.J. Homey:
Q. You say when you stopped there, you were thirteen minutes to the good, and then it took two minutes to back up?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. And then you started at once to go to flag the train, did you?
A. Yes, sir, that is just what I stated.

Q. Was that your duty, if you had plenty of time to get in the good?
A. Why, it is always my duty to flag if it is necessary.

Q. Did you know at that time it was necessary?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What was the reason that you knew at the time you threw the switch that it was necessary?
A. I knew we couldn’t get on from the position we were in. I knew we couldn’t get in and clear in ten minutes, and that it was necessary to flag them.

Q. You had thirteen minutes then, – that would be 11 minutes you had to flag them, and you started at once to flag, as soon as you threw the switch?
A. Yes, sir.

The Coroner:
I think we will leave that in testimony.

Dr. Lowry:
Q. Did you look at your watch when you started easst to flag?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Was there more than eleven minutes when you started east to flag?
A. I think that is what I had.

The Coroner:
Q. You occupied probably nine minutes of that in running?
A. Well I couldn’t say as to that. I didn’t keep time.

Q. I was trying to make up my mind how far you could run in nine minutes.

Dr. Lowry:
Q. How fast do you think the train was going when they passed you, the passenger train?
A. I think they was going about fifty miles an hour, fifty or sixty miles an hour, something about that.

The Coroner:
Q. Do you think if the fuses had worked all right, it would have made any difference, wouldn’t the engineer have been just as likely to see the red lantern you had as he would the fuses?
A. Yes, I think he would.

Mr. Thorson:
Q. Could you tell from where you were when they applied the air?
A. No, sir.

The Coroner:
Q. You couldn’t tell from the sound of the incoming train?
A. No, sir.

Q. Could you, if they had been near you, is there a noise made by the train when they apply the air, that you could recognize?
A. No, sir.

Q. They were too far at the time they applied the air for you to tell that?
A. I couldn’t say as to that.

Q. It is your opinion that the air was applied at once as soon as they answered your signal?
A. That is ruleable.

Q. Could you tell any difference from the speed of the train from the time they answered your signal until they passed you?
A. No.

Q. Would that be due to the fact that the train was going so fast, it would not begin to manifest any difference in speed?
A. I couldn’t tell how fast they were going back there a half a mile.

Q. They were going at a good speed?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. They were not running faster than they were ordinarily supposed to run?
A. They were not ahead of time.

Q. They hadn’t made up any time?
A. Not as I know.

Dr. Lowry:
Q. Where were you when you first noticed the headlight of the coming train?
A. I was between the depot and the north track of the switch, the passing track.

The Coroner:
Q. So far as east and west is concerned, you were about up to the depot?
A. I was east of the depot.

Q. You had passed the depot? (this line is repeated)
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Before you saw the headlight?
A. Yes, sir.

Dr. Lowry:
Q. How far can you see a switch light?
A. On a clear night I have seen them for four miles.

Q. Shat signal did you give them, the stopping signal?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. All the time?
A. Yes, sir.

(Signed) M.C. Todd

■ ■ ■

The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 24, 1906

Cutting Funeral Sunday
Illinois Central Wreck Victim Will be Buried at Iowa Falls That Day.

Waterloo Reporter: Funeral services of the late Walter E. Cutting will be held Sunday afternoon at 2:00 o’clock from the Baptist Church in Iowa Falls. Reverend Hargraves will officiate. Illinois Central Officials have generously offered the use of a special passenger train that will leave this city at 11:20 o’clock Sunday morning, and a large delegation of Masons and members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen will attend the rites.

Walter E. Cutting is survived by a widow and one child and other relatives as follows: Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Cutting (parents) father is an engineer on the Rock Island; and brothers Henry, an engineer in Washington state; George an engineer in Colorado; William, an engineer on the Great Western with headquarters at Kansas City, and Arthur, a brakeman on the Rock Island with headquarters in Cedar Rapids. Two sisters, Bessie and Sadie, live with the parents at Iowa Falls; another sister is married and resides in northwestern Iowa, and a fourth sister is Mrs. Varink, whose husband is a Cedar Rapids engineer.

■ ■ ■

More information on Walter E. Cutting:
According to my search on, he was born in 1879 and married on Nov. 30, 1904 to May Pearl Boddy (born 1880) in Hardin County. Walter’s parents were Ellis Cutting and Bessie Glenny Cutting. May’s parents were Edward Boddy and Jane Green Boddy.

I base my information on the marriage date and Walter’s father was mentioned in the funeral notice. In the 1900 census, there are four children in the household: Walter, Sadie, Charles and Bessie. The census says that Ellis was born in England and Jane was born in Ireland. They lived in Iowa Falls, Iowa, at the time of the census. It also says that Walter was born in July 1880, which contradicts the  marriage information.

The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 22, 1906

This photo shows a train with passenger cars.

I.C. Limited in Collision; Fireman Cutting is Dead

Fast Passenger Train From Chicago Ran Into a Freight Train.

Disaster Occurs at Duncombe

Freight Train was Pulling into a Siding to Clear Main Line.

Freight Struck in Middle

Passenger Train Had Double-Header – First Locomotive Reduced to Scrap Iron – Fireman Cutting Jumped and Had Neck Broken.

The Dead.

Fireman Walter E. Cutting, of Waterloo. Neck broken.

The Injured.

Engineer O.M. Brown, of Waterloo. Cuts and bruises, not serious.

Engineer Ed Stark, of Waterloo. Back injured, cut and bruised. Will live.

fireman W. Wood, of Waterloo. Face badly cut. Not serious.


West switch at Duncombe. About 800 feet from depot.


Limited passenger train No. 1 west bound with double header. In charge conductor McCarthy of this city, and Engineers Brown and Stark, of Waterloo. East bound freight extra, in charge of Conductor McNamara and Engineer H.A. Smith, both of Waterloo.

Damage Done.

Engien No. 1005, large passenger locomotive, stripped of all parts. Will have to be entirely rebuilt. Five freight cars entirely destroyed. Small section of track torn up.

Trains Delayed.

No. 1 delayed over six hours. No. 6 delayed about two hours. All freights held until wreck is picked up.

The second serious accident on this division of the Illinois Central occurred at 4:00 o’clock this morning, when the crack limited train No. 1, west bound, struck an east-bound freight extra as the latter train was being pulled onto a siding at Dunccombe. Fireman Walter Cutting, of Waterloo, lost his life in the wreck, while Engineer O.M.  Brown, Engineer Ed. Stark and Fireman W. Wood all of Waterloo received more or less serious injuries.  The huge one hundred ton locomotive is dismantled, its parts being thrown for a hundred feet from the scene of the crash, while several fregiht cars were ground into small pieces, which would not make a decent sized piece of firewood.

The cause of the fatal accident is not yet determined. The crews of the two trains tell somewhat different stories, and as yet the officials seem to believe that the cause was improper flagging. Every employe (sic) concerned in the wreck has been in the service for years, and an examination of each man’s record shows it to be almost faultless.

A Messenger representative boarded the first trrain that left Fort Dodge, after the accident became known, and arrived at the scene, before the work of picking up the wreck had commenced. The injured men and the deceased firemen had already been taken to Fort Dodge, but the scene was yet decidedly gruesome.

A curious throng numbering as high as five hundred people gathered around the scene of the accident. Time and time again the crowd had to be shoved back in order to give the men space to work.

The first relief train pulled out of  the Fort Dodge station about 6 .m., and had on board the company physician with a corps of assistants, and also the company officials. Within twenty minutes more a wrecking train with crew followed this train out. The first train was composed of baggage car wtih coaches, to transfer the passengers, but on arrival it was seen that the4 train could be brought through intact by waiting a few hours.

No. 1, the passenger train that was wrecked is the limited train of this road. It consisted of a mail, express, three sleepers, and two chair cars at the time of the accident. The train was somewhat late out of Waterloo this morning, and two engines were couples on to help make up time. The regular engine, No. 1005, was the lead engine, and was followed by a small engine, No. 916.

The passenger train was bout an hour late out of the eastern terminus of this division, and the dispatcher gave them running orders of forty minutes. Engineer O.M. Brown, or as he is more commonly known “Windy Brown,” is known as a fast runner, while engineer Fawcett, the man in charge of the No. 916, is a man who can handle an engine well.

Both men are from the freight service, although Engineer Brown is first extra passenger man, and spends over half of hi time in the passenger service. The two men were whipping their long train along in superb style, until the Duncombe station was reached, when a flagman signaled them to go carefully.

With a train running close to seventy miles an hours (sic), it is a hard matter to stop wtihin 1000 feet, but the two men shut off the steam, according to report, and Engineer Brown applied the air. The distance was too short and the big engines struck the freight train midways, as it was pulling onto the siding.

Four Enginemen Jumped.

After applying the air all of the four enginemen jumped, but not successfully. It seems that Walter E. Cutting the fireman on the head engine picked a poor place, for he struck on a log spanning the ditch at the side of the track. His neck was broken, and death must have been instantanous (sic).

Engineer Brown was badly cut about the face and body, but is able to move around. Engineer Fawcett on the second engine injured his back in the jump and was somewhat badly hurt. fireman Wood on the second engine struck on his face, which is badly cut.

The big 1005 is one of the 1600 class locomotives used on the fast passenger runs. It weighs about 135 tons, and is of the Atlantic type. The big engine rolled over on its side, the side underneath being the left of the side of the cab occupied by the fireman. The entire engine appears to be dismantled, the ponty truck wheels, being found about fifteen feet ahead of the engine body.

The big axles, which are about eight inches in diameter were bent and twisted as though they had been small wires. The wheels were torn and dented. The big boiler head is dented and cracked. The cylinders are torn and twisted, while even the driver wheels are dented. The shafts are broken, and warped, while the mechanism seemed to be ripped entirely from the engine.

The engine cab is filled with a mass of wreckage, and it would have been instant death for one of the men to have stayed within it.

The tender of the engine was also badly damaged, the wheels being torn off. The second engine escaped with scarcly any damage. The front end was crushed in to a certain extent, but the engine steamed into Fort Dodge, without aid.

Passengers Uninjured.

The two big engines acted as a buffer for th epassenger coaches and escaped any damage.

The passengers in the sleeper were not even all awakened, while those in the chair cars wre badly shaken out of their seats. the express messenger, baggagemen and mail clerks all received severe jolts, but none wre injured.

The big passenger locomotive fell to the south side of the track, while the fregiht equipment was thrown for hundreds of feet along the north side. Four freight cars loaded with oats were totally demolished, while a flat car was ruined.

Two of the four freight cars were the first struck were so badly damaged that it would be hard to find a piece of either big enough to use as stove wood.

One other car seems to have suffered nearly as bad as the largest piece of it visible is a section of the roofing about ten feet long. the fourth box car is broken in two in the middle, and ruined. The car is to be found about 100 yards up the track, broken in two in the center.

In this accident it would have been impossible to tell how many cars were ruined were it not for the car trucks, and even some of these are so badly damaged that it would be hard to tell what purpose they served.

The grain is piled along the track for about one hundred feet; and in some places is four or six feet high. Railroad officials on the scene say that the cars will all be burned.

Master Mechanic Talks.

Master Mechanic R.W. Bell was one of the officials to accompany the steam wrecking outfit from Waterloo. When seen by a messenger representative he said that he estimated the damage at a little over $2,000. When surprise was expressed at this low sum, he stated that the iron apparatus on the cars, which are always the most expensive can be used over again. the engine while stripped of its fixtures, can be rebuilt for a comparatively low sum. The estimated cost of rebuilding it should not go much over $1,000 according to this official.

Mr. Bell expressed great sorrow at the death of Cutting. He said Mr. Cutting was a regular engineer who was working as fireman during the period of slack work. He has always been regarded as a most competent employe (sic) and is a man of excellent habits. He leaves a wife and small child.

Mr. Bell said Mr. Brown was also regarded as a very competent engineer and that the crew on the second locomotive were worthy men. He said that the company had been most fortunate in not having serious accidents and that an accident of this kind consequently caused more notice than it would on other roads where accidents were more frequent.

The Cause.

There are numerous stories of the cause of the accident and for anyone to sift out which is the correct one is almost impossible, until the official investigation is completed. Superintendent Jones was in Omaha at the time of the accident and did not arrive at the scene until afternoon today. He will return here this afternoon or evening and the investigation will be made.

The story that seems to be universally accepted is that the freight train stopped west of the switch, while the brakeman threw the switch for the siding. The train was an exceedingly heavy one, and the air stuck, which caused a delay of several minutes in getting it started. This train was in charge of conductor McNamara and Engineer H.A. Smith of Waterloo.

Before the train had gone onto the siding, No. 1’s headlight was seen in the distance, and a flagman hurried down the track to flag this train. Before he could get far enough down the tack, the grain met No. 1. He flagged the train, but the distance was too short and the heavy train could not be stopped quick enough to save an accident.

Another Theory.

Another story was that the No. 1 had made up more time than the dispatchers order allowed, and when the train arrived at Duncombe, it was ahead of its schedule, and thus caught the men partially unprepared. Thsi latter part seems to be believed by several of the men, but the officials deny it.

the Fort Dodge wrecking crew with the smaller derrick were not needed after the big steam derrick from Waterloo arrived. The local men returned here shortly after noon, but the Waterloo outfit will probably remain on the scene until Friday evening at the earliest.

The big engine tender was first pulled away from the engine. It was then swung away, and will be taken to Wa- (its schedule, and thus caught the) terloo on flat cars. The big engine will be repaired, somewhat and will then be hauled to Waterloo. The big drive wheels will be able to carry the engine in, if slow time is made.

The freight equipment wrecked will all be burned. The contents of the cars will also probably be burned, and the scrap iron will be carried into the shops where it can be used again.

The Men’s Injuries.

Engineer Brown in speaking of the accident said that he saw the flagman about four hundred feet from the switch, and that the train was running about sixty-five miles an hour. he said that he applied the emergency and whistled for brakes. then he jumped to the left and remembered nothing more until he came to an a corn field about fifty or seventy-five feet from the track. His head is somewhat badly cut, while the muscles on his back and neck are sore and bruised.

Edwin C. Stark, the engineer on the second train said that they were running about sixty-five miles an hour when he heard Brown whistle for brakes. He reversed his engine and jumped. His left ankle was sprained, his knee was cut and he was injured about the hip and back. His injuries are not serious, but will probably lay him up for several days.

Royal G. Wood, the fireman on the second train stated the speed was about sixty to sixty-five miles an hour. He saw Stark jump from his side of the cab and followed him out. His face was badly cut.

The men in talking over the affair seem to believe that the whole affair was caused by the flagman being too close to his train, as the limited could not stop within four hundred feet under any possible circumstance when running close to a mile a minute. All were grieved over Cutting’s death, and one said, “I don’t care what happens to me know, I am so glad to be alive.” They say that when they picked Cutting up, his face was in water, which had escaped from the tender. Had he only been stunned he would have been drowned, as he had been there several moments when found. Had any man stayed in the 1005, he would have been killed, as the steam and boiling water was thrown all about the cab and for some distance around it.

Coroner McCreight impanelled (sic) a jury and after viewing the remains of Cutting, the jury went to Duncombe. This afternoon was spent in going over the scene of the accident, and viewing the wrecked engine and cars. The jury examined the train and engine before leaving, and will complete its investigations at the Court House this evening.

On the Coroner’s jury, besides Dr. McCreight the coroner, were Will Haire, Dr. Lowry and Louis Thorson.


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.)