Train Incident 1894 Marshfield
From the Wood County Reporter, Grand Rapids, Wood Co., WI
Thursday May 31, 1894 Page 4
Met Death in a Wreck
Marshfield, Wis., May 30--Train No. 4 on the Wisconsin Central railroad was
wrecked at 1:15 o'clock this morning at Mannyville, a deserted station
three miles north of this city, and a terrible calamity resulted.
Immediately after the wreck the train took fire and five persons are known
to have lost their lives, being caught in the debris of the wreck and
burned alive. The dead are:
James HUBBARD, engineer, Stevens Point
Geo. GEBHARDT, fireman, Stevens Point
W. B. RUSSELL, civil engineer, employed by the Wisconsin Central
company, Stevens Point
Judson BIGELOW, head brakeman, Stevens Point
Mrs. WEGNER, of Butternut, who boarded this train at Mellen;
Nine passengers were severely injured. Others were badly shaken up and
slightly bruised, but is believed no one else was killed or seriously injured.
Scene of Horror
The scene presented by the wreck was one of indescribable horror. The cars
containing the terrified and wounded passengers were piled on top of each
other, and from the chaotic heap the piercing shrieks of the injured and
dying proceeded in heartrendering tones. To add to the horror the wrecked
cars immediately took fire and were soon a mass of roaring flames. As soon
as the flames broke out Conductor GARVIN uncoupled the rear sleeping cars
and day coach No. 7, and succeeded in shoving them back out of the reach of
the flames. Some mail and baggage were also saved from the fire, but
everything else was burned up.
As soon as the uninjured passengers could free themselves from the debris
of the wreck they immediately rushed to the assistance of their fellow
passengers less fortunate than themselves, some of whom were pinned down by
heavy beams and other parts of the cars, and were unable to extricate
themselves. From fifteen to twenty persons were rescued in this way before
the flames had time to reach them. Several, however, could not be reached
before the flames enveloped them.
The division superintendent set to work at once caring for the dead and
injured, sending the bodies of those who lived at Stevens Point and a
number of passengers down by special train. The wounded were taken to the
hotels here. When the body of the head brakeman, Bigelow, was removed from
the wreckage he held in his hand his watch and on his arm his lantern.
The Open Switch
Strong suspicions are entertained that the switch was purposely thrown open
by some miscreant who desired to plunder the train or wished to wreck it
from some equally diabolical motive. An examination showed that a nut had
been removed from the switch, which allowed it to get loose and fly open
when the train struck it. The fatal bolt which held the split switch in
position was picked up about ten feet from the end of the switch. Whether
it was removed and thrown there or broken loose by the train is a matter of
Many thanks to Joan M Benner for transcribing these pages.
Her professional page can be seen at:
Golden Rule Genealogy.
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