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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Five crew members of a runaway Burke ore train went on a wild and terrifying ride, hitting speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, through a narrow, snowy canyon.

The trip down the steep grade from Burke seemed routine until the five heavily laden ore cars began to pick up speed and push the locomotive to an alarming extent. The crew applied the emergency brakes, to no effect. The engineer threw the locomotive into reverse, to try to slow the train, but “the engine, with all its strength, was unable to check the wild rushing weight bearing down upon it and went shrieking, steaming and puffing ahead of its load down the canyon.”

At one curve, two of the ore cars jumped the track and plowed into a snowbank, hurling a brakeman into the snow.

The remaining three cars and engine kept going, gaining speed every second, until the train hit a switch point and careened off the track. The locomotive rolled down a bank “and landed on its side in the bottom of the gulch, stripped of everything except its wheels.”

The four remaining crew members had all jumped clear just in time. There were some broken ribs and bruises, but all five crew members owed their lives to deep snow. 

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1870: The U.S. Weather Bureau was established.