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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; destination Cadott.

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 conjecture.


Many thanks to Joan M Benner for transcribing these pages.
Her professional page can be seen at: Golden Rule Genealogy.

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