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Jim Kershner’s This day in history » On the Web:

Tue., Jan. 4, 2011

From our archives, 100 years ago

Five men were killed when the North Coast Limited passenger train plowed into the rear of a Burlington passenger train on a foggy morning in Cheney.

The Burlington train had stopped at Cheney and was preparing to move onto a siding, which would allow the North Coast Limited to pass. The brakeman jumped off the train to turn the switch, but the North Coast Limited came roaring up in the fog.

A self-described hobo, camping in the nearby rail yard, saw the whole thing. He said the North Coast Limited “came from behind through the fog, running at 40-42 miles per hour” and did not brake “until just before the moment it crashed into the rear of the Burlington.”

It hit a sleeper car, “splitting it lengthwise” and then hit the next car, a diner car, so hard that the diner ended up “tilted up into the air” directly over the locomotive.

A porter and passenger in the sleeper died; so did a minister in the dining car. A porter and express messenger on the North Coast Limited also died.

“Hundreds of persons, curiosity seekers, railroad men, hysterical wives of the train crews and anxious relatives packed the Northern Pacific depot” when a rescue train arrived in Spokane bearing victims of the wreck.

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