Golden Triangle Wreck Blocks Tracks in City
Pennsy Tracks are Torn Up for Nearly Four Blocks as 11 Coaches of Speeding Train Leaves Its Rails at Interlocker
Howard Wyland, Crossing Watchman at Detroit Street, Most Seriously Injured, When Tower is Demolished; Several on Train Sustain Injuries; 147 Passengers Aboard.
The Pennsylvania Railraod's speeding Golden Triangle passenger train piled up in mid-Warsaw at 5:36 oclock (CDT) Monday morning, injuring nine persons, two seriously and destroying the road bed and hurling wreckage for blocks.
Miraculously none of the 147 passengers were killed as the coaches of the flyer churned and smashed ahead at about 90 miles an hour for three blocks, from Hickory street, east of the Big Four crossing, to a point beyond Indiana street. Virtually all aboard were shaken and bruised.
The eleven steel cars jumped the tracks at the Pennsylvania-Big Four interlocking switch and demolished the Detroit street crossing tower, seriously injuring Howard (Dutch) Wyland, 43, the watchman.
Railroad men speculated that the wreck was caused when a rail came out at a cross-over switch just east of the interlocking system. The rail was tossed for half a block and narrowly missed the Harry Kepler home on the south side of the tracks.
The crippled engine flashed on through Warsaw, dragging its tender and tearing out everything between the tracks, although the locomotive itself remained on its rails. It was brought to a stop near the western city limits. The tender's undercarriage nosed into the dirt of the road bed just west of Indiana street. Crossings were torn up from the point of derailment clear through the city.
Watchman is Injured
The injured included four railway employees and five passengers. Wyland, the watchman, of 953 East Fort Wayne street, stationed in his tower when the speeding train began to tumble down the tracks, said he had only a moment to observe the impending disaster-then the flyer struck his tower. Wyland was catapulted to the ground amidst the tangled steel and wood of the tower.
Wyland was pulled from the debris by three Warsaw men, Eugene Davis, Charles McClintic and Ed Cartwright and was taken to the McDonald hospital suffering severe back and internal injuries.
Jesse Miller, 729 North Lake street, operator on duty at the interlocking tower between Hickory and Detroit streets, was struck by flying wreckage as he stood at his post on the ground to inspect the train as it flashed by. He was taken to the Murphy Medical Center and released after treatment for a bruised hip.
Others in Hospitals
Evelyn Huchro, 19, 2212 West Belden avenue, Chicago, was taken to the McDonald hospital in the automobile of a naval officer, having sustained a skull fracture and head and body lacerations.
George Harris, 50, colored waiter, was dug from the wreckage of the diner and taken to the McDonald hospital where he was found to have injuries to his head, hands and leg.
Brakeman Howard L. Morrison, of Columbia City, stayed with the wreck until all passengers were cared for, then permitted himself to be taken to the McDonald hospital for treatment of a sprained back.
Taken to the Murphy Medical Center in addition to Miller, the tower operator, were:
Elmer J. Rogers, 653 South Throop street, Chicago, a leg injury. Mrs. Joseph Shedwell, 516 Riley Road, East Chicago, Ind., minor head cuts; and Paul Rainhold, of Pittsburgh, Pa., a back injury.
None of those hospitalized with the exception of Wyland and Miss Huchro were believed to be seriously injured. Those taken to the McDonald hospital were there at mid-morning, but those taken to the Murphy Medical Center were released soon after treatment.
Attaches at the McDonald hospital at 1 p.m. Monday announced that the two most seriously injured victims were in "good condition". Mr. Wyland, the crossing watchman, sustained internal injuries while Miss Huchro sustained a skull fracture on the right side. Conductor Morrison and George Harris, waiter, were dismissed after treatment, Morrison had sustained a rib fracture and a sprained back and Harris having suffered a concussion, cut on the head and sprained hand.
Culver Cadets Aboard
A group of cadets from Culver Military academy were taken from Warsaw to Culver in taxi-cabs. None of the boys were hurt.
Most of the 147 passengers of the train were sent back to Columbia City on Pennsylvania trains, to be routed around the wreckage.
Members of the train crew were S. R. Smith, engineer, Fort Wayne; C. P. Freeman, conductor, of Fort Wayne, a former Warsaw resident; Morrison, the injured brakeman; Harry Hrake, brakeman, Fort Wayne; flagman Clyde A Burrel, Fort Wayne and O. F. Cress, fireman, Fort Wayne.
Engine on Rails
The engine remained on the tracks but all eleven of the cars were derailed and damaged, rending and jolting for three blocks along the churned-up roadbed.
Two damaged coaches still hooked together, smashed to a point just past Indiana street. The pullman car Hunt, blocked High street, and another coach, only one of the cars to turn completely on its side, slid to a stop with the back part partially blocking High street. The seven rear pullman cars zigzagged across the tracks, nosing into each other, many tearing loose from their under-carriages. Hugh chunks of wreckage were strewn along the roadbed. Flying rocks and debris broke windows along the right-of-way.
From Hickory street west, the pullmans piled up in this order: Hess, New Omaha, Rowland, Larue, Summit Lake, Southern College, Mar Brook and Hunt.
Both east-bound and west-bound tracks were destroyed and it was believed that traffic would be halted during the day and probably for 24 hours.
All Ambulances Respond
In the early dawn, sleepy residents tumbled from bed at the rending sound of the crash, giving what assistance they could to the passengers. All ambulances in town responded to calls and city and state police were called to handle the crowd which appeared on the scene within an hour and milled around the wreckage.
Automobiles of sight-seers lined the curbs for blocks in the wreck area and thousands of spectators viewed the wreckage. Shortly after 7 a.m. railroad officials swarmed over the scene and state and city officers under direction of railroad detectives roped off the last eight cars and pushed spectators back off the roadbed in preparation for salvage work.
Big Four Rerouted
An hour before noon workers of the Northern Indiana Public Service company put up floodlights borrowed from the Warsaw softball field to facilitate night salvage work.
The Big Four tracks were damaged and blocked by the wreck and the southbound morning passenger train was backed up to Milford Junction, was routed west via the Baltimore & Ohio road to Walkerton then down on the Nickel Plate to Claypool, where it returned to the Big Four tracks.
Pennsylvania railroad officials said the Golden Triangle was enroute from Pittsburg to Chicago, and that the cause of the accident was unknown. It was said that the line would be tied up only until Monday evening, and that in the meantime trains would be rerouted 42 miles from Columbia City over the Butler branch of the Pennsylvania to Logansport, to join another main line of the Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania's Southland, one of the two trains following the Golden Triangle, carried the passengers back to Columbia City and will take them on in to Chicago.
Mayor Frank O. Rarick took over the duties of the injured towerman, Miller, for several hours after the accident, it was learned.
Among houses damaged along the right-of-way was that of Miss Miriam Kutz, south of the tracts on Detroit Street. She reported that a piece of brake shoe and a large metal screw were hurled through a window.
Warsaw Daily Times Monday April 28, 1947 front page
Broken Rail Hurled Near Home
Mr. and Mrs. Harry Kepler, who live on the south side of the Pennsylvania tracks at 410 East Jefferson street and their three children had a very narrow escape when 45 feet of rail torn loose by the derailment of the Pennsylvania's Golden Triangle skidded through the yard within a few feet of the house and when stones were hurtled through windows of the home.
Mr. and Mrs. Kepler were sleeping in a room on the east side of the house when the rail snaked throught the yard near their room.
A daughter, Stella, 21, was sleeping in a small bed by the window at the front of the house. Stones crashed throught the window, scattering broken glass over the bed. Fortunately, she was lying with her head turned away from the window and was uninjured.
Boy Sees Wreck
A son, Frank, aged 13 had been sleeping in a cot downstairs. He was awakened some 15 minutes before the wreck, preparing to go on his paper route. The boy was looking out of a west window when the cars hurtled down the track. He screamed loudly as the terrible noise of crashing wreckage caused the small house to tremble.
Another son, Eddie, 17 was asleep in the house. Mr. Kepler rushed from his bed and said that he was the first to reach Mr. Wyland, crossing watchman injured in the wrecking of the crossing tower at Detroit street.
When Kepler offered to lift Wyland, who was lying on the ground, Wyland cried: "Please don't touch me. I think my back is broken."
Kepler shouted at some men running toward the injured man to call an ambulance, but one was on the way and soon rushed Wyland to the McDonald hospital.
Warsaw Daily Times Monday April 28, 1947 front page.
In the grey light of this early spring dawn, the lonely train whistle shivered and hung on the air. The tower man, stiff from his night's work at the telegraph key, automatically noted on his report "train 63 cleared Warsaw at 4:36 a.m. (CST)." He walked down the steps to the side of the tract and watch the approaching engine, swaying from side to side, wheels beating an 80-mile per hour tattoo on its iron road.
A second later, he was caught in a storm of flying steel and stone as the mightly monster, suddenly crippled, screamed and screeched its agonizing way through four or five blocks, leaving chaos in its wake.
Residents Hear Crash
Sleeping residents awakened to the sound of the worst train-wreck ever to occur in Warsaw. Some had cause to be frightened as giants steel rails twisted around like angry snakes, great pieces of steel buzzed through the air and the sound of tingling glass, as windows shattered, added a soprano key to the wreckage symphony.
Steam hissed softly in the air, an excited voice or two broke the quiet as the first ambulance could be heard wailing in the distance. Crew members were assisting passengers to alight and people were tumbling out of their berths, thankful to be alive as the first newspaper man on the scene, stepped grumbling and sleepy-eyed from his car.
He looked three blocks down the track, eyes popped open, sleep was gone. There was one comment, "Holy Cow, what a mess."
Several men standing at the small railroad station were watching with the usual small-town interest as the train approached and saw the neat row of cars disintegrate before their eyes. A moment later, the damaged engine, still on the tracks, slid by them, tearing up ties, snorted to a stop.
Horrified they had watched the watchman's tower at High street disappear as a giant and powerful hand slapped it to the ground, wrenched and tore its strong supporting girders apart. The men ran. Panting and fearful, they pulled apart the debris. The watchman, in pain and shock, looked up from under his covering of dirt and boards and iron and asked dazedly, "Where is my watch?"
Things had now begun to move. Those first few excited people were breathing easier and thankful that no one had been killed. There were no mutilated humans.
Police Take Charge
The train wreck had become suddenly a delightfully interesting hunk of metal that one could not tell his grandchildren about without shuddering.
Police had hardly tied their protective ropes around the large area until holiday crowds began to mill around, duck under the rope, dodge watchemen, snap pictures and the cry, "Wait until I tell you what happened down here," became the by-word.
School was probably in session, but the greater number of smallfry were getting their lesson in railroading this morning, standing along the tract long after the last bell had rung.
One business man walked into The Times and Union office and said, "You people are the only ones working this morning. Everyone else is at the train-wreck."
Warsaw Daily Times Monday April 28, 1947
Traffic is Resumed Through City at 7 p.m. Monday
It still looked like a train wreck in Warsaw Tuesday, with seven battered coaches of the wrecked Golden Triangle lining three blocks of the Pennsylvania's main line, but traffic had been resumed and plans were made to remove the damaged pullman cars and coaches on Wednesday. Trains still moved through Warsaw at slow speed.
Four wreck trains and scores of section workers cleared the tracks at 7 p.m. Monday evening, 13 hours and 24 minutes after the wreck occurred. The first passenger train, No. 58, moved east along the rebuilt tracks at 7:37 o'clock, 14 hours and a minute after a broken left front spring hanger on the streamlined locomotive derailed the flyer, which was traveling 90 miles an hour.
A dense throng of onlookers from all over this part of the state watched the traffic jam dissolve, with train after train crawling slowly through the wreck area from the Big Four intersection to Indiana street. Near-normal traffic was resumed about 9:30 o'clock.
Passengers on the trains inspected the damage from open coach windows and from observation platforms. It appeared that virtually every resident of Warsaw and Kosciusko county, able to move around, visited Warsaw some time Monday or Monday night. Some appeared on the scene soon after the derailment at 5:36 a.m. and remained all day, watching the track-clearing operations. Traffic, which was heavy all day, redoubled at night, with virtually unbroken strings of autos entering Warsaw. Lawns in the vicinity of the derailment were tramped almost bare of grass.
Four Cars on Track
Four pullman cars with usable undercarriages were placed back on the tracks and moved onto the "Y" transfer link with the Big Four. The rest of the eleven coaches were nudged from the rails over onto Jefferson street. Undercarriages will be repaired and replaced on the scene to permit removal of the coaches to the Pennsylvania shops at Fort Wayne.
Clearance operations on a coach just east of Indiana street crossing early Monday afternoon resulted in considerable damage to the home of Jesse Hay at 221 South Indiana street. As the coach was being moved to the north side of the track by railway cranes, it got out of control and rolled up against the south side of the house, shoving the back part of the structure six inches.
Linoleum on the floors of the kitchen and back porch broke, doors were jammed so they wouldn't shut and the south walls of the room cracked. Several persons, including Mrs. Hay, her daughter, Jane Faris, Mrs. Glenn Hatfield, of Burket, and Mrs. Robert Breading, of Warsaw, were in the house when it was jarred by the impact.
Crossings Are Repaired
The rest of the crossings torn up when the streamlined locomotive broke loose from the train and pulled its wheelless tender through town, were to be repaired and opened to traffic Tuesday, it was announced. Some were opened late Monday night.
Railway officials said that the broken spring hanger of the locomotive permitted the spring to fall down and lodge in a switch a short distance east of the Pennsylvania-Big Four interesection. The coach wheels, when they struck the spring wedged in the switch, left the tracks and tore them from their moorings.
Injured Show Improvement
Attaches at the McDonald hospital Tuesday reported that Howard (Dutch) Wyland, Detroit street crossing watchman, and Evelyn Huchro, 19, of Chicago, a passenger, both injured in the derailment, were in an improved condition.
Wyland, who lives at 953 East Fort Wayne Street, sustained painful back and internal injuries when a pullman coach sideswiped and demolished his tower. Miss Huchro sustained a skull fracture and head and body lacerations. The seven other casualties of the derailment, three railway employees and four passengers, were released from the McDonald hospital and the Murphy Medical Center after receiving treatment for minor injuries. One of these was Jesse Miller, of North Lake street, operator on duty at the interlocking tower between Hickory and Detroit streets, who was struck by debris as he stood at the foot of the tower just south of the point of derailment.
A few telephone subscribers at Winona Lake lacked service Tuesday as an indirect result of the derailment. An operator said that a line to Winona was inadvertently cut by workers during repair operations.
Warsaw Daily Times Tuesday April 29, 1947
South Bend Tribune, Monday evening April 28, 1947 front page.
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