Jim Kershner’s this day in history
From our archives, 100 years ago
About 400 tons of runaway train careened down a canyon at 60 to 80 miles per hour, seriously injuring one worker and ending in a pile of wreckage in Wallace.
The local train was carrying five freight cars loaded with ore from the mines above Wallace – as well as a flatcar loaded with bridge timbers and a caboose.
The train started rolling, and the conductor frantically tried to apply the brakes – to no avail.
“The stretch from Bunn Siding to the depot in (Wallace) is three miles, and there is hardly a variation from a straight line in the entire distance,” a correspondent said. “With the 400 tons of weight once in motion there was no stopping it, until it left the track of its own accord.”
The crew of the train realized this, and most of them jumped off before it picked up too much speed. The conductor stayed with the train for 2 miles, but then he jumped, suffering some injuries.
The only person who didn’t jump was Oscar Hanson, riding in the caboose.
The Wallace depot was notified that the runaway was on the way. People were evacuated from the rail yard, and a switch was thrown to divert the train away from the depot.
When the runaway hit that switch, it flew off the track. Hanson had numerous serious injuries, including a concussion, a broken jaw and internal injuries. His condition was dire.