Florence, CO Train Wreck, Aug 1902

INDIANA PYTHIANS HAVE NARROW ESCAPE IN COLORADO.

Special Train is Caught by a Cloudburst and Two Pullman Cars Are Wrecked.

Denver, Colo., Aug. 7--Indiana Pythians in route to California were treated to a hair-raising experience yesterday in racing with a cloudburst in which the Rio Grande limited and a thrilling escape from being swept off the track by a rush of water. Only the watchfulness and prompt action of the engineer saved the train from destruction. About twenty miles south of Colorado Springs the train ran into one cloudburst. The rain fell in torrents. Through this the train ran swiftly and safely. Beyond there was no rain. Looking up the track, the engineer saw the second cloudburst. Driven by a strong wind, the huge volume of water was sweeping along like a mill race. In a few seconds, the train was on its edge. There was but one outlet, according to the prompt reasoning of the engineer, and he took that course. That was to drive the engine at its greatest speed. He did so. The engine leaped forward at a speed of more than sixty-five miles an hour. The train rushed through the edge of the cloudburst, and not a moment too soon. Within a minute after the cloudburst had passed there was a deluge of water, and the track was torn up in a dozen places. Had the train been one minute late, it would have been swept from the track. As it was, the second section was wrecked by the flood at Riverton, five miles west of Pueblo. The last two sleepers of the train were swept from the tracks by a wave of water fifteen feet high and overturned and inundated for a time. The cars were crowded. Fortunately no one was killed. While the trainmen were clearing the track and right of way, a passenger, who was looking up the river, suddenly gave a cry of warning and ran toward the Pullman sleepers. He directed the attention of the passengers to the rapidly rising waters, and every one made a hasty exit from the sleepers into the other coaches. The water struck the rear coaches and hurled them against the wall of the canyon.

Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, IN 7 Aug 1902

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Florence, August 6,-- A special train from the east en route to California, carrying 300 tourists and being run over the Rio Grande tracks as second section of Rio Grande train No 5 was caught while crossing Peck creek bridge east of Florence, by a rushing torrent of water forming a wall eight feet high and 40 feet wide yesterday afternoon and two rear cars, a day and sleeping coach were precipitated into the waters. The day coach sank into the soft mud and the sleeper was thrown against the farm house of J. F. Roberts, damaging the building by the jar, but saving it and the occupants of the house from absolute destruction by forming a blockade, thus preventing the water reaching the building.

There were several thieves, supposed to be confidence men, on the train, who, taking advantage of the situation, proceeded to rifle the satchels and valises of the passengers and quite a number of valuables are reported missing. Mrs. M. E. Fonts of Ottumwa, Ia., bound for San Francisco, was the heaviest loser, the thieves having taken three hundred dollars worth of diamonds from her dressing case. She says that during Monday night her apartment in the sleeper was entered, but her continued screams frightened away the robber before he secured any valuables. E. J. Harshow reports the loss of diamonds, and a dress suit and case, valued, they claim at $250. Besides the above nearly every passenger on the train reports some article missing. The thieves made quick work, and in less than an hour, every valise on the train was opened.

C. T. Menzel local agent for the Rio Grande, was ordered by carrier to bring refreshments at once to the scene of disaster. He left here at 3 o’clock this morning with almost 100 gallons of coffee and about 1,500 sandwiches.

Colorado Spring Gazette, Colorado Springs, CO 7 Aug 1902