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South Bend, IN Railroad Disaster, July 1859



From the Chicago Times, June 29.
The most dreadful railway disaster which ever happened in America, took place night before last, not far from twelve o'clock, about two miles east of South Bend, Indiana. A train, consisting of six cars, was totally demolished, and over seventy passengers were killed. The precise number is not known, but no less than sixty dead bodies had been recovered at the date of the latest intelligence. People were searching for more.
It is stated that there were 150 passengers on the train, only 75 of whom are now living. We think the estimate of whole number is rather small. When the train left this city at 8 o'clock P.M., there were two first class cars crowded to excess, one sleeping car comfortably full, one second class car full, and one emigrant car empty. The latter was taken along for the purpose of carrying down a number of railroad hands, who were taken on board at Ainsworth, Calumet, and other stations along the road. Among the passengers were quite a number of Chicago people, of whom we have the names only of L. P. HILLARD, E. CICKINSON, MRS. SUMNER, and some others which appear below. DAVID RUNNION, late proprietor of the Revere House, left the train at South Bend, two miles this side of the place of the accident.
During Monday afternoon and night a heavy rain storm prevailed throughout the region traversed by the Michigan Southern Railroad in Indiana. All the streams were fearfully swollen in a very brief space of time. Rivulets were augmented to rivers, and fields proviously dry were changed to miniature lakes. The accident took place at a culvert, crossing a ravine some twenty-five feet in depth, and about one hundred feet broad. The bottom of the ravine forms the channel of a small brook, which in midsummer is usually dry. One the morning before the accident a men stepped across it without difficulty. The passenger train which arrived here the same night crossed the culvert at 8 o'clock in the evening with safety. It is thought that the water-way had become choked up with floodwood, thus causing the ravine above the crossing to fill with water, the great weight of which pressing against the embankment caused it to give way while the train was crossing. The entire train was precipitated to the bottom of the ravine, or against its opposite side, and every car was broken into fragments. The loss of life was much greater, however, than it otherwise probably would have been on account of the water which was about fifteen feet deep. Many persons were drowned.
The following are the names of those whose bodies have been found:
DAVID TULIP, engineer.
THEODORE TULIP, fireman, brother of the engineer.
JAMES P. BABINGTON, baggage master, of Toledo.
J. W. HARTWELL, messenger of the U.S. Express Co., family in Toledo.
MRS. OTIS S. SUMNER, of Chicago; her child escaped unhurt.
C. W. SMITH, road master.
MRS. E. P. GILLETT, and Child, of Stone Mills, N. Y.
J. McCARTHY, of Holmesville, Indiana.
MARY CURRAN, of Adrian, Michigan.
MR. WALWORTH, do., do.
A Man Unknown, with W.S.E.S. on his right arm.
MR. McNEALY, of Fon duLac county, Wisconsin.
RICHARD MULDANY, of Calumet, Ind.
MR. STREETER, of Sparta, Wisconsin.
HENRY FLECKINGER, of Reading, Penn.
B. P. McCULLOUGH, of Lawrenceburgh, Indiana.
Two Boys, named TIDESWELL.
THOMAS MISHAN, train boy.
And seventeen others so disfigured that it is impossible to identify them.
Wounded And Not Expected To Live.
MRS. REGAN, of Rockford, Illinois.
JOHN D. WIRE and PATRICK QUEEN, of Ainsworth, Illinois.
E. C. SMITH, a banker of Wall street, N. Y.
FRED MILLER, Holmesville, Indiana.
E. M. KNAPP, Hudson, Wis.
J. R. GARDNER, Jonesville, Mich.
AUGUSTUS WHITE, Holmesville, Ind.
WM. FLANNERY, Ainsworth, Illinois.
S. P. MYER, do., do.
P. QUINN, do., do.
C. ANDERSON, do., do.
W. R. ANDERSON, do., do.
A. D. PISER, Chicago.
D. P. RHODES, Cleveland.
MISS A. MOORE, Freeport.
MR. and MRS. A. G. JURRY, Brooklyn, N.Y.
C. JACKSON, Waukesha, Wis.
MISS C. M. BLAIR, do., do.
OSCAR WARPETON, Rockford, Ill.
_____ WALLWORTH, father and son, Adrian, Mich.
G. BENNETT, do., do.
M. H. REGAN, lady and daughter, Rockford, Ill., lady badly hurt, daughter not yet found.
C. S. ROSE, Coldwater, slightly injured.
JESSE DYLING, Louisville, Warren county, Penn., slightly.
W. J. HAWK, Charleston, Va., slightly.
C. YARD and Wife, Otsego county, N. Y., slightly.
A. VAN SYCKS , wife and four children, Warren county, Ohio.
STEPHEN H. ARNOLD, Decatur county, Iowa, badly hurt.
W. H. WELLER, Milwaukee, slightly.
B. O'BRIEN, Chicago, slightly.
W. N. CONNELL, slightly.
MARY COATS, Youngstown, Ohio, slightly.
SAM ATKIN, Bellville, slightly.
____ OLMSTEAD, brakeman, leg broken.
MISS D. A. PORTER, Hudson, Michigan, slightly.
Not Injured:
LEWIS HELLER, Strausburg, Pa.
JOHN HESK, Rome, Jones county, Iowa.
R. W. TAIT, Susquehanna Depot, Pa.
E. A. GURLEY, Addison, Vermont.
J. K. GARDNER, Chicago.
HENRY CREASE, Philadelphia.
M. WHITE, DeKalb, Ill.
S. ARNOLD, brother of the wounded ARNOLD.
CALVIN HAGAN, Milwaukee.
A number of those reported wounded this afternoon are so far recovered that they will be able to leave tomorrow morning. The money belonging to the United States Express Company, $30,000, has nearly all been recovered. No fault is attributed by the passengers to any of the officers of the train. Quite a number of the passengers are still missing and are supposed to be drowned. One lady was carried down the stream towards the river, and lodged in a treetop, and heard several float by crying for help. The engineer had been runnins over the bridge from Laporte each was carefully. The train was not running faster then ten or twenty miles per hour. The train going west had passed over the embankment safely at 8:30 P.M. One of the through mail bags was found near the river, two hundred yards from the break; whether others are lost cannot be told. The ravine is about 25 feet deep and 75 to 100 feet wide. The night was very dark, and there was a curve in the road just before the embankment was reached. One old man, named HORACE DEVEREUX, of Oneida Co., N.Y., who had been on a visit to his nephew in this city, and was by him last seen in the sleeping car at the depot, is missing. At the spot where the disaster happened a small stream or "branch" is crossed by the road, on an embankment twenty-five to thirty feet in height. Here, for the passage of the water, was a good stone culvert, which has heretofore proved of sufficient capacity to carry through all that descended the creek. In the afternoon and evening before the accident that locality was visited by a rain storm of extraordinary severity. The water fell in torrents, raising all the smaller streams after the lapse of a few hours to an unprecedented height. It is supposed that the driftwood carried down by the little "branch" of which we speak, accumulated on the upper side of the culvert, and caused an obstruction that every chip, leaf and floating limb made more serious, until the passage of the water was almost entirely stopped. The water thus dammed up attacked the embankment, which is of sandy loam -- more sand than loam -- and soon dissolved it and carried it off, or made it so soft ane yielding that as soon as the weight of the train came upon it, it gave way. Formerly trestlework occupied the place of the culvert and embankment, but it was removed for a more permanent structure, which was supposed to be equal to the purpose for which it was made. The culvert has been built several years, and up to this time no one doubted its sufficiency.

Banner of Liberty Middletown New York 1859-07-06

article | by Dr. Radut