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1969 Train Wreck!

Up ] #315 On The Ground! ] General View ] Derailed Cabooses ] Rear of #315 ] Side View #315 ] The Truck ] Clean Up the Mess! ]


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1969 Train Wreck!
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Reload this page for more GREEN BAY ROUTE facts.

Some pictures and  a short story about a train wreck on the Green Bay & Western in 1969. 


#315 On The Ground!
General View Of The Wreck
Derailed Cabooses
Rear End of #315
Side View of #315
What About the Truck?
Clean Up the Mess!
In the Press

Most of these photos were taken with a Kodak 126-format camera by Patricia Mathu (see "The Tracks Near the Farm" for memories of growing up in the 1940's near the KGB&W), with some additional photos from the daughter of railroad president H. Weldon McGee.

I've got a few questions included in my description of the accident.  I'd love hearing your replies to the questions, as well as any other comments the photos might generate.


#315 On the Ground!

On Saturday May 31, 1969 Green Bay & Western locomotive #315 was leading a three-car special excursion train from Kewaunee to Green Bay when it collided with a gravel dump truck at County Road "P" - between New Franken and Luxemburg in Brown County.  Richard Dickey was the engineer.

My mother said she thought the GB&W ran this excursion every Memorial Day weekend.  Does anyone have any information on it?

The impact was severe enough to derail the locomotive and all three three cars.  Notice the damage to the engineer's side of the front of the locomotive, and the other corner of the locomotive plowed into the ground.

I don't know who the man in the photo is.  A GB&W employee or Federal Railroad Administration representative, perhaps?


#315 on The Ground:

Click on photos for enlargements:


General View Of The Wreck

This photo is from the north side of the tracks.

On the far right is locomotive #315. Behind it are two cars: a fairly modern yellow bay window caboose, and behind it is green business car #603, rebuilt from a road caboose. Both were also derailed in the accident. At the end of the train is business car #600 "ROAMER," which was built in 1918 and acquired by the GB&W in 1944.  It also derailed in the accident.

The dump truck ended up in a field after the accident.


General View Of The Wreck:

gbw02a.jpg (6315 bytes)

Click on photos for enlargements:


Derailed Cabooses

Here's a closer view of the derailed cabooses. The bright yellow caboose is one of the bay window cabooses built by International Car Company in 1965-66 (GBW #615 - #617).  The green car behind it is business car #603, which was modified from a wood sheathed bay window caboose.


Derailed Cabooses:

Click on photos for enlargements:


Rear End of #315

Here's a shot of the rear end of the locomotive.  It looks like the truck pulled up a few ties as it skidded to a halt.  By the way, that sharp-looking seven-year-old kid in the red shirt is none other than yours truly.  Geez, those locos are huge to a seven year-old!


Rear End of #315:

gbw04a.jpg (7040 bytes)
Click on photo for enlargement:


Side View of #315

Locomotive #315 is an Alco Century 430 model.  It was the last of 16 C430s constructed, and one of the last locomotives built by Alco before it ended domestic production.

This side view can give you an idea of the paint scheme used at the time.  GBW #315 was the last engine to get the red and gray scheme: beginning with GBW #316 in October 1968 locos began wearing the all-red paint scheme.

And no, that young fellow in the photo is not me this time. It's my younger brother, with my grandpa.


Side View of #315:

Click on photo for enlargement:


What About the Truck?

Here's the dump truck that was involved in the accident. The driver was a friend of the family, that's why my mom took pictures of the train wreck that day.  Although the driver wasn't permanently injured in the accident, he did spend part of the summer of 1969 wearing a neck brace because of the collision.  A cook on #600 "ROAMER," was also injured in the accident.


What About the Truck?

Click on photos for enlargements:


Clean Up the Mess!

Finally, late in the day a wreck train finally got the loco and cars back on the track.  I can't tell for sure, but it looks like it was just about sunset when this photo was taken.

I'm sure the accident had to be a scheduling headache for the GB&W, since it occurred on the line to the ferry boats in Kewaunee and there was no way to route traffic around the wreck.  I wonder what the ferry boats did that day?  If there was already a train in Kewaunee, the cars could get pulled off of the incoming boat, and it could get sent on its way back without any load.  If there wasn't any train in Kewaunee I suppose the boat was held up until the line was cleared. That probably affected the schedule of the connecting Ann Arbor trains on the other side of Lake Michigan.  Boy, I'd sure hate to have been planning to take the car ferry across Lake Michigan that Memorial Day weekend!


Clean Up the Mess!

Click on photo for enlargement:


In the Press

This accident was mentioned in Diesel Era magazine, September/October 1994 (Volume 5, Number 5) in their article "Alco's Final Four-Axle Design - The Century 430" by Stephen McMillan.  On page 27:

On May 31, 1969, 315 was leading a three-car holiday train, with the president of the road, H. Weldon McGee, aboard, on the return leg of a Green Bay-to-Kewaunee round trip. About 15 miles east of Green Bay, the train was involved in a grade-crossing accident with a dump truck. Although no one was  seriously hurt, 315 and all the cars derailed, with 315 coming to rest at about a 90-degree angle to the track. Not heavily damaged in the derailment, 315 was damaged more during rerailing. Apparently, the forward cable spreader bar slipped, causing the cables to squeeze the cab sides above the lifting pads."


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Updated July 11, 2015