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Green Bay Wreck

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A story of a September 1, 1894 wreck on the Green Bay, Winona & St. Paul RR as told in the Winona Herald.


Four Cars of Stock Cremated
Near Arcadia


Cased the Derailment of the Train --
No Lives Lost -- Loss

There was a bad wreck up on the Green Bay road last Saturday afternoon.  No one is to blame for the catastrophe and the accident was entirely unavoidable.  The story is told by the Winona Herald as follows:

The place of the wreck was between Arcadia and Independence, and was caused by the burning of the bridge a miles from Arcadia, near a sharp turn and at a point where there is a considerable of a grade.

The east bound passenger train passed over this bridge a short time before, and it was noticed by the train crew that the structure was on fire.  With the assistance of the section man the train hands put out the fire and proceeded on their journey.  At Arcadia the west bound passenger train passes the freight train and was but a short distance behind at the time of the accident.  The freight train consisted of thirty cars and was coming round the curve down the grade at good speed, when the bridge was discovered in full blaze.  It was impossible to stop the heavy train in the short distance that intervened from the point of view to the bridge, and realizing this in an instant, the engine reversed; the "brakedown" signal given and the air brake put on hard.  Even this failed to stop the train and the engineer and fireman to save themselves jumped from the engine.

The momentum of the engine was sufficient to carry the engine safely over the bridge but at the farther end the heat had spread the rails and the tender left the track.  Then in rapid succession the box-cars began rolling off right and left until the gully beneath the bridge was completely filled.  The fire from the bridge quickly consumed the cars and it was but a few moments before the entire wreck was a mass of fire.  Among the cars that went into the flames were two cars of stock, one of hogs and one of sheep, and the animals that were not killed outright in the wreck, were suffocated and burned to death.

In the meantime the passenger train had arrived on the scene. The engine was quickly coupled to the rear of the freight train and fifteen of the cars were pulled from their dangerous positions near the fire.  On account of a broken down draw-bar and the intense heat it was impossible to save more property.

The passengers were transferred to the LaCrosse train and it arrived in this city two hours late.  The loss is estimated at $10,000.

Thank you Jean Anderson and Bob Gile for providing this interesting article.

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Updated July 11, 2015