Wellington, WA Avalanche and Train Wreck, Mar 1910
LIST OF DEAD GROWS WITH RESCUE
Horror Increases As Rescuers Search in Snow for Bodies of Passengers on Train Buried in Snowslide - Weather Warms and More Slides May Interfer [sic] With Work.
EVERETT, March 3. -- As further details of the disaster that overwhelmed two Great Northern passenger trains, when an avalanche swept the trains, when an avalanche swept the trains and a portion of the town of Wellington, at the west portal of the Cascade tunnel, down the mounside [sic], are received, the horror grows.
Struck by the avalanche, the cars fell 150 feet into the canyon and are buried by debris.
A train has left Everett for the blockaded section of the Great Northern with 70 additional workmen and supplies. The relief train, with the injured, if they can be removed from Wellington, will arrive at Everett at 6:30 tonight. Wrecking crews are working on the east side of the Cascade in an effort to reach Wellington. If they get the track open before the west side is cleared the bodies of the dead will be taken to Spokane.
Supt. O'Neill, of the Great Northern, who is at Scenic Hot Springs, sent word before noon that he had heard nothing from Wellington. He supposes that messengers from the rescue party are walking through the snow to Scenic. The distance is three miles in a straight line, eight miles by the winding course of the railroad track. There is no wire communication between Wellington and Scenic.
Wounded Are at Wellington.
It will be impossible to reach the scene of the wreck today except by foot travel. From the east side of the Cascades approach is cut off by a snowslide at Drury, six miles east of Leavenworth, which destroyed the station and killed Watchman JOHNSON. The wounded are being cared for at Wellington, but will be taken to the big hotel at Scenic Hot Springs as soon as possible. The weather in the mountains continues warm and rescue parties will be in constant peril from snowslides.
The two trains that were carried away by the great wave of ice and snow were the Spokane express and the westbound transcontinental fast mail.
The latter carries no passengers. Most of the dead and injured are believed to have been passengers on the Spokane express, 40 of whom were on the train at the time of the disaster. Besides these, 30 workmen who had been engaged in the battle against the drifts that had been holding the two ill-fated trains imprisoned in the mountains since February 24, were sleeping in the day coaches.
PASSENGERS PERHAPS TO BLAME
Coaches Moved Out of Tunnel and into Danger at Their Request.
SEATTLE, March, 3. -- Among railroad men here probable responsibility for the Wellington disaster attracted much comment today.
The passenger train which was swept to destruction had been stalled at Wellington for the last week. As a protective measure the train was backed into the tunnel, while provisions for the marooned passengers were obtained from the company's stores of supplies and from Ballet's hotel. Several small slides yesterday alarmed the passengers and it was feared that the mouth of the tunnel would be closed. The passengers begged the conductor to move the train out of the tunnel and to run the risk of avalanche, such as crushed it later.
When the train was run out of the tunnel to the town of Wellington a slide of snow blocked the passage way to the secure shelter in the mountain. Another slide prevented the train from moving forward, and it was compelled to stand near the depot, adjoining the main train.
There it met destruction. The question is whether the passengers assumed the risk of lurking death or of the road can be blamed for leaving the passenger coaches where they were forced to stop by the mail train.
Centralia Daily Chronicle Washington 1910-03-03
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