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Railroad wreck near Lynd

Train wrecks were big news in the early days of settlement. Trains were an essential part of everyday living, carrying and delivering goods to each station along the tracks, reloading and hauling goods (mostly grain and animals, as well as being the main mode of travel for residents and/or visitors.

The train wreck that took place on Monday, June 10, 1907, was described in the News Messenger of Lyon County as one of the strangest accidents in railroad history that took place on the Great Northern at about 4 a.m. and which did not result in many fatalities or more serious damage.

“The Sioux City passenger from St. Paul passed the stations at Marshall and Lynd about on time, and when about two miles beyond the latter station, the engineer running slowly and at not more than twelve miles an hour, the high-embankment sank without warning from beneath the engine. The engine left the track and turned completely over with the tender inside rolling down the embankment. The baggage car partially left the track and was pushed clear later to open up the way by the wrecking crew. The passenger coaches all remained securely on the rails, the air brakes taking effect in time when the engine broke away.”

The high embankment, which was about seventy feet high, and heavy rains that had been falling for more than twenty-four hours probably contributed to the embankment giving way. Also the hills at Lynd and Camden are full of springs, and the high embankments would get filled with water when heavy rains occurred. Even though the engineer had set the air brake he did not have time to shut off the steam before both the engineer and the firemen were hurled about twelve feet beyond the point where the engine landed. The setting of the air break stopped the train within the length of the engine and baggage car, and as these plunged down the embankment, the connection broke, and the remainder of the train was left intact on the track. Interestingly the engine did not turn over but went straight down the distance of 40 feet where it was stopped by a heavy wooden culvert that passed beneath the embankment. The engine was not wrecked except the cab and trimmings were torn off. The removal of the cab saved the lives of the engineer and fireman. “As the engine went down, the tank pitched against the engine with such force as to throw the cab twelve feet ahead of where the engine landed, and with the cab (that held the two occupants) twelve feet ahead of where the engine landed. Had this not occurred, doubtless both men would have lost their lives, for, strangest of all the strange accident, the engine remained intact, and steam not being shut off, it continued to work, and with the escaping steam and working machinery, it could not be approached for some fifteen minutes, when the steam became exhausted.

The engineer was bruised, not seriously injured, while the fireman suffered two broken ribs. The mail agent and brakeman who occupied the baggage car were not injured even though the baggage car went down quite a distance before breaking away from the tender. Soon after the excitement ended, these men went back to sorting the mail. Occupants of the sleeping car slept soundly until seven o-clock, only to awaken and find the close call they had with their lives.

A special train from Garretson was called to the scene where it picked up the passengers and mail, while a wrecking crew was sent down from Willmar. By four o’clock in the afternoon a track was built around the cave-in and traffic resumed.”

Source: News-Messenger, June 10, 1907.

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