Michigan, ND Rear End Railroad Collision, Aug 1945
OVER SCORE DEAD IN NO. DAKOTA RAILROAD WRECK.
Michigan, N. D., Aug. 10 (UP) -- Twenty bodies were removed today from the crumpled observation car of the Great Northern railway's Empire Builder. Officials estimated the death toll would be between 25 and 40.
A spokesman for the railroad said that a majority of the dead were servicemen. Of the first 17 bodies removed, 10 were soldiers, he said, adding that the death list would reach at least 25.
An officer of the state guard unit at Devil Lake said the death toll would rise to at least 40. He said at least that many soldiers were killed in the rear car of the train when the second section of the Empire Builder crashed into the first section.
Identification of the dead was made difficult by the charred condition of many bodies which were seared when the car burst into flames.
Workers had succeeded in cutting away half the telescoped car.
The accident occurred about seven-thirty p.m. (CWT) last night when the first section of the train stopped about a half mile from the small Michigan depot because of a "hot box" on the locomotive.
Before flares could be put out to warn the second section, it plowed into the rear coach, a combination Pullman-observation car. It split the coach down the middle.
The engine's boiler exploded on impact and searing steam scalded those already dying. The Pullman ahead of the observation car was derailed.
Michigan, a small town of 500, had no facilities for first aid. Ambulances and help came from as far as Grand forks, 54 miles distant, Devils Lake, Lakota and other cities.
Military officials took charge and said no names of the dead would be announced until the next of kin had been notified.
Col. Fred Mann, Jr., of the Devils Lake state guard, said that the bodies of 40 servicemen were in the car long after midnight. All the dead were believed to be servicemen.
Loaded to Capacity.
The two sections of the train, loaded to capacity with from 450 to 500 passengers in each, mostly servicemen, left Chicago at eleven-fifteen p. m. (CWT) Wednesday, bound for the Pacific coast.
Charles Walker, a boatswain's mate from Cleveland who was riding in the second section, said he though that Engineer HANS NELSON of St. Paul made a desperate effort to avert the crash.
"The first indication of the wreck I had was three short jerks as though the engineer had attempted to slam on the brakes," Walker said. "The next thing was a terrific impact and that stopped the train. It's my feeling that the engineer applied the brakes so the wreck could be prevented."
The Ogden Standard-Examiner Utah 1945-08-10
REMOVE BODIES FROM TRAIN WRECK.
Michigan, N. D. -- AP -- The death list in last night's collision of two westbound sections of the Great Northern railway's Empire Builder rose to 32 today. Approximately 50 were injured, 10 seriously.
Twenty-seven bodies had been taken from the wreckage shortly before noon. Workmen digging in the debris said they could see at least five others, trapped in the tangle of steel.
Three bodies were identified as those of:
MRS. BETTY JANE LOFTHUS of Box 281, Lowell, Wash.
LLOYD S. BURDICK of 721 Second street, South Great Falls, Mont.
JARVIS PEARSON of Chicago, porter on the combination observation-sleeper at the rear of the first section which was telescoped by the following train's locomotive.
A bracelet found on a woman's body bore the name ADELAIDE F. McMANUS, but no address.
At least 15 of the recovered bodies were those of service men, eight those of women, including a nurse, the porter, two male civilians and three children.
Army officers from Fort Snelling, Minn., took charge of the servicemen's bodies and said identities, once made, would not be announced until the next of kin had been notified.
The seriously injured were taken to hospitals here and in nearby cities. Most of the less badly hurt remained aboard the trains, which were combined and proceeded on westward, several hours after the collision. They were treated by doctors who had been placed on board.
A railroad spokesman said the collision occurred on a curve a short distance west of the Michigan station shortly before 7 p.m. (CWT) after the first section had stopped to cool a hotbox on the locomotive's fuel tank. With a crash which shook every house in this community of less than 500 population, the speeding second section plowed into the rear end of the train.
The Brainerd Daily Dispatch Minnesota 1945-08-10
34th BODY IS REMOVED FROM WRECKED TRAIN.
Michigan, N. D. -- AP -- John Cameron, division superintendent of the Great Northern railway, reported the thirty-fourth body had been removed from the wreckage of the Empire Builder here this morning.
The body was that of a man, believed to be a civilian, and was taken to Lakota.
Cameron said railroad officials, on the scene since the wreck Thursday night, were certain there were no other bodies in the debris.
Work of moving the shell of the wrecked Pullman from the engine was completed today and it was expected the engine would be moved during the day.
The Brainerd Daily Dispatch Minnesota 1945-08-11
PARTIAL LIST OF CASUALTIES
Taken from various newspapers.
MRS. BETTY JANE LEFTHUS, Lowell, Wash.
LT. ADELAIDE FRANCES McMANUS, a WAVE, New York City.
MRS. OLIVE BRANNON, 46, Clifton, N.J.
MURIEL V. CUMMINGS, 21, Plentywood, Mont.
MRS. MARTHA McGRIFF, 48, Portland, Ore.
LLOYD (SHORTY) BURDICK, 37, Great Falls, Mont.
JARVIS PEARSON, porter, Chicago.
MRS. MOLLIE ZASLOVSKY, Bronx, New York.
MRS. FLORENCE E. VANDENBURG, 30, Tacoma, Wash.
GREGORY JOHN VANDENBURG, 4, her son.
PFC RAYMOND R. BRENNAN, no hometown listed.
PFC STEPHEN J. MORGAN, Porter Falls, W. Va.
SGT. CLYDE JOHNSON, Morgantown, Ky.
LT. GEORGE HENRY KERN, Wyoming, Ohio.
CPL. RICHARD D. HEALEW, 20, Billings, Mont.
2ND LT. TENNIS B. HICKMAN.
1ST LT. CHARLES A. LEOLEY.
1ST LT. DONALD J. PETERS.
CPL. PAUL F. NANCE.
1ST LT. JEROME W. LADENBURGER.
S. SGT. ELWOOD J. LIEN.
S. SGT. BURT J. COHEN.
CPL. RUBIN ABRAMOWITZ.
SGT. ERNEST J. DELLAR.
PFC. AUGUST W. WICHMAN.
ENSIGN ROSE ELLEN WILSON.
LT. ADDA JANE PATTERSON.
LT. LOUIS S. STULLER.
HARRY H. HANSON.
MARY ELLEN FYFE.
NOREEN GALE FYFE.
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!