Saturday, November 12, 2022

Jackrabbit Stops The GN At Naylor

In corresponding with the late Mike Denuty back in 2012, he had passed along this story, which I just came across again.

I ran across the following in gnry net, the GN Kalispell Division history site:

1914, 02 July:

Jack Rabbit Stops A Train

Little animal's body was hurled against the air hose, setting the brakes.

How a jackrabbit stopped the crack Great Northern express train is related by H. H. Dean of Hill yard, Washington, the engineer who stood at the throttle when the incident occurred. Here is the engineer's own version of the affair:

"We were coming through Naylor when the accident occurred," declared Mr. Dean. "We were bowling along about 50 miles an hour, pulling our full complement of coaches, when I saw a Jackrabbit coming toward us full speed in the middle of the track. The animal evidently was confused by the brilliant glare from the electric headlight and made no effort to get out of the way. Just before we struck him he stopped and crouched down, and after the engine pilot passed over him the airbrakes began to work and the train came to a sudden stop, the air register showing the brakes set on the emergency.

 "The fireman and I got out to investigate, and found that the air-hose had been uncoupled between the engine and tender. There were bloodstains and pieces of' fur on the coupling, and it was evident that the body of the rabbit had been thrown against the hose with sufficient force to break the connections."

 --- Logansport Chronicle

My dad, John Denuty, said jackrabbits were a big problem in Eastern Washington in the early years, including the Big Bend Country. They grew really BIG and were a big danger for automobiles on the highway between Reardan or Davenport and Wenatchee. Some counties paid bounties for rabbits and some had rabbit drives

In Adams County, rabbits could devastate farmers' only cash crop - wheat - so drives were conducted weekly. The carcusses were shipped by train to the Salvation Army in Spokane.

Unfortunately, at the end of one of the drives in January 1922, a Paha farmer was accidently killed by shotgun fire.

By the 1990s, with an increase in irrigation and loss of habitat, jackrabbits became rare in Eastern Washingon. 

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