Humboldt River, NV Stream Liner Wrecked, Aug 1939
STREAM LINER WRECK TOLL MOUNTS TO 20.
Elko, Aug. 13 -- Twenty persons are known to be dead as a result of the worst train wreck in the history of Nevada, forty miles west of Elko on the Southern Pacific main line last night at 9:33 o'clock. Seventeen of these bodies have been recovered and three are visible but cannot be moved until cars are taken from the river bed of the Humboldt river.
Thirty-three are injured and were rushed to Elko in a special Southern Pacific rescue train five hours after the crash.
The train of seventeen cars has capacity of 220 people and it was understood all reservations were taken.
As rescue work was rushed T. J. FOLEY, assistant superintendent of The Southern Pacific, J. H. MAHAN, Southern Pacific traffic agent, and S. P. Roadmaster WILLIAMSON declared the wreck was clearly a case of sabotage with murder intended.
They showed this writer where an entire rail had been moved four inches inward, thus causing a derailment of the flying City of San Francisco. Those doing the job had moved the tie plate inward 4 1/2 inches and had spiked it to the track again. They had removed all of inside spikes so that engine left track when it struck this rail about one hurdred feet in front of bridge through which five cars plunged, carring most of the victims to their death. The bond wires on the track had been kept intact by the sabeteurs so that the signal was still in the clear.
The last train over the track had passed about four hours before and Roadmaster WILLIAMSON said it would take a strong man working fast to do the job in an hour causing the derailment.
E. F. HECOX, engineer of the City of San Francisco since its inceptiono three years ago, declared he saw a green tumbleweed upon the track at the point where the tie plate had been moved in, forcing the rail out of line. The engine left the track at that point and went several hundred feet, continuing without turning over. The two cars immediately behind the engine were the power cars and they stayed upright. The next was the baggage car, which turned over and the fourth was the chair car, which turned over, but which killed no one. This section of the train was hurtled down the embankment as the train broke in two as it crossed the bridge, with the club car striking the bridge and tearing giant girders into ribbons. This car was gutted and bodies of passengers who had been playing cards were torn beyond recognition, some of them hurtling one hundred feet into the willows skirting the river.
It was from the club car and the diner that the greatest number of dead resulted, although most of the victims were thrown from the club car, while the diner car victims were jammed into one end, mostly Negro help, where they had apparently been collected in the kitchen following the evening meal.
Engineer HECOX declared that as soon as he passed the point where he saw tumbleweeds he felt the tracks begin to "give." He was proceeding at sixty miles an hour when the wreck occurred, he said, as this is a restricted area through the canyon.
Five cars were piled in jumbled mass, where the bridge gave way. One of these rested upon a victim whose arms were visible, but it was impossible to remove him. Parts of bodies were strewn along right-of-way and victims were so badly mutilated that identification remained impossible in many instances.
Continued on Page 2.