Monday, March 1, 2010

Central Washington Railroad Wreck

From "History of The Big Bend Country."

1904

A serious wreck occurred on the Central Washington railroad, six miles west of Wilbur, Wednesday morning, January 8, 1890. The road had been blocked with snow for a long time and the first train out consisted of engines Nos. 100 and 447, one box car and two way cars. This train left Wilbur about 10:30 o'clock a.m., for Almira, to clear the track. West of town a cut of eight feet deep was encountered, full of solidly drifted snow. The two engines made a run for the cut, but the hard condition of the drifted snow caused both locomotives to jump the track. The engines rolled over and fatally injured the engineer and fireman of 447, Messrs. Melcher and Burroughs. Tim Raridon, the old-time conductor, who was on the head engine, jumped through the cab window before the engine fell over, escaping with a severe shaking up and a few bruises. Engineer F. Gorman, of No. 100, and his fireman, McClellan, had a very close call, but escaped with a slight scalding.

     "Engineer Melcher was the most severely injured and died in a few days. His injuries were internal, caused by begin jammed in the debris, and also from inhaling steam. His fireman, James Burroughs, suffered terribly, being held against the boiler-head among the burning coals which had been thrown from the fire-box, and the escaping steam from the busted pipes. Help was immediately summoned from Wilbur and all that was possible was done to relieve the sufferers. The cut where this accident occurred is about 150 feet long and the head engine, 447, had not advanced within more than 75 feet before it left the rails, running on the ties about fifty feet more, when the pilot appears to have struck some obstacle, doubled up, or buckled, torn off the front trucks and shot the engine over on the right side at right angles to, and almost clear, of the track. The second engine was keeled over on its left side and embedded in the side of the cut."

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