Cook County Illinois Genealogy Trails

Crack I.C. Trains Crash
Chicagoan Dies, 54 Hurt
[Date of Newspaper Article c. January 1941]

Flagman Blamed For Tardiness With Signal
In the dim lit cab of a locomotive, rocking through the early morning, a fireman turned to his engineer and said: "There; a rear end up ahead and we're going to hit." The fireman jumped for his life. The engineer threw on the brakes and sand. In the ensuing crash of two Illinois Central trains, the Panama Limited and the second section of the Louisiane, which was struck, Thomas E. Tallmadge, a widely known Chicago architect, was killed and fifty-four other persons were injured. A coroner's jury at Arcola, 156 miles south of Chicago, today was to hear the story of yesterday morning's accident.

Thomas E. Tallmadge

After a preliminary inquiry, J.L. Downs, the Illinois Central superintendent at Champaign, said the Louisiane's flagman, A.S. White of Chicago, did not set out his warning flares soon enough or far enough back of the train.
R.S. Scott of Champaign, engineer of the Panama Limited, was quoted as saying his train's safety control system was out of order. This system, an electrically controlled device, warns the engineer whenever the distance between two trains on the same track is less than half a mile. The engineer then has five seconds to reduce speed. If he fails to do so an automatic control stops his train.
Scott was quoted as saying he reported the device out of order at Centralia, but was told to proceed. Scott was injured, as was his fireman, Fred Duller of Champaign.
The crash occurred as Engineer John Scott of the Louisiane, which had stopped at Arcola to pick up a Chicago passenger, was pulling out of the station.
Engineer Scott was not aware of the unscheduled stop of the Louisiane, but had reduced his speed from 70 to 30 miles an hour because, reports said, of poor visibility. Five cars on the Louisiane were telescoped as were the diner and coal tender of the Panama Limited.

Following is a list of 19 Chicagoans injured in the collision:

BUNTON, Nate, 359 E. 58 St.
CAVANAUGH, M., No Address Available
DAVENPORT, Charles, 6246 S. Park Way
DUNBAR, Thomas, 371 E. 55 St.
GASSNER, Irving, 3404 Carmen Ave.
HANNAH, J.W., colored, 602 E. 41 St., a waiter
HARRIS, Simon, colored, a porter
HILL, Nathaniel, colored, 3906 S. state St. Louisiane chef, burns on head; in Tuscola Hospital
JOINER, Jackson 4397 Michigan av.
MCGUINNESS, Percy, 3939 State St.
MIDDLETON, Dave. No address available
MITCHELL, Charles, colored, 724 E. Marquette road, a porter
PRUSSNER, Mrs. Rose, 59, of 4721 N. Avers av., broken rib, chest injury, in Tuscola Hospital
REASON, Austin, 3523 Michigan av.
SCHMOOK, MISS Anna, 7035 ? Green St., a gymnasium teacher at Harper School, broken ankle; in Tuscola Hospital
SPARGO, John, 716 Foster St., Evanston, professor of English at Northwestern university, dislocated knee; in Tuscola Hospital
SPARGO, Mrs. Gladys, wife of Professor Spargo, broken ankle, bruises and cuts; in Tuscola Hospital
TALLMADGE, Miss Abbey, Homestead Hotel, Evanston, sister of Thomas E. Tallmadge, who was killed
REASON, Austin, 3523 Michigan avenue
WHITLOW, A.S. No address available

List of other Victims
Persons, other than Chicagoans, who were injured, are:

ANDERSON, ALVIN, Greenville, Miss.
BERGMAN, W.H., Greenville, Miss., fractured knee
BOSSON, LIEUT. F.S. JR., Portland, Ore., back bruised
CARSON, O. Champaign, Louisiane fireman
COOPER, ISADORE, Memphis, Tenn, hip injured, in Mattoon hospital
DEATON, MARY B., Superior, Wis.
EKLES, MARY LOUISE, State College, Miss.
ELLIOTT, DAVIS, Greenwood, Miss.
FLACH, G.C., Brookhaven, Mass
FULFER, FRED, Champaign, Panama fireman, fractured ankle
FORD, ELMER P. JR., New York City, foot and knee bruised.
GREEN, EDNA, Youngstown, O.
GREEN, FRIEDA, Youngstown, O.
HAYES, MRS. MARJORIE K., New Orleans, La
HURLBUT, F.W., Green Bay, Wis.
HURLBUT, MRS. F.W., Green Bay, Wis.
JACKSON, ROY, Memphis, Tenn., broken leg
MAULDIN, R.S., Gulfport, Miss.
MILLS, L.E., Centralia, Ill., flagman.
PONSTEIN, LEO., Tunica, Miss
SCHULMAN, BARNEY, Greenwood, Miss.
SCOTT, R.S. Champaign, Panama engineer

Train Flagged for Chicago Girl
Maybe (?) Wreck Wouldn't Have Happened Had Train Gone on Through Arcola That Morning.

[Unknown date (c. 1941), unknown newspaper]

Who Caused the Wreck?
Indirectly, it was Norma Jean Woodward, 15, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Woodward of Chicago. It was for her that the Louisiane stopped in Arcola and had it not been for picking her up, the Panama would not have overtaken the Louisiane here and probably the semi-phone light signal on top of the interlocker tower a quarter of a mile north of the station would have indicated to Engineer Stout that there was danger ahead had not the Louisiane lost the time which it did in making the stop at Arcola. Or, if the Louisiane had cleared the distance covered by the block signal and the board been favorable with the Panama overtaking the Louisiane a few miles farther north, doubtless Engineer Stout would have had his eyes on the track instead of watching for the block signal and noticed the lights on the rear of the train ahead in time to have avoided the crash. That, of course, is all speculation but sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

Miss Woodward had been visiting Virginia Clinard, daughter of Mrs. Jess Tague, of Oakland, during the holidays. Virginia and her brother, Richard, brought her to Arcola to board the train for Chicago. They saw Miss Woodward get on the train and started to leave but before getting to their car, heard the crash. They returned to the day coach, saw that Miss Woodward was all right and thinking only a small amount of damage had been done and that the train would soon depart, left for Oakland. However, after they reached home they heard reports over the radio of the extensive damage and the number that had been injured and they returned to Arcola to view the wreckage and see Miss Woodward. But the special train which was dispatched here from Champaign to take the passengers from the Louisiane and Panama on in to Chicago, had left only a few minutes before and Miss Woodward, presumably, went on it as they were unable to locate her.

[Many thanks to Gina Wolveck for sending all these newspaper clippings. The "Chicago Girl" this story speaks of was her mother, and by her age mentioned here, figures the date of this newspaper article to be January 1941.]

Limited Plows into Rear End of Crack Flyer

Prominent Chicago Architect Killed

A widely known Chicago architect - Thomas E. Tallmadge - was killed, and 54 other persons were injured early yesterday in a collision between two passenger trains on the Illinois Central railroad at Arcola, in Douglas county, 156 miles south of Chicago.

The accident occurred just before dawn, with the temperature six degrees above zero, when the Panama Limited plowed into the rear of the Louisiane. Nearly 150 passengers were aboard the two flyers, en route to Chicago from New Orleans. After a preliminary investigation of the accident, which is to be carried on today by the Douglas county coroner and later by the Interstate and the Illinois commerce commissions, J.L Downs, the Illinois Central superintendent at Champaign, indicated that much of the blame rested with the Louisiane's flagman.

Champaign railroad officials identified the flagman as A.S. White of Chicago. Downs said the flagman did not set out his warning flare soon enough and far enough back of the last car.
Another cause of the wreck was given both by R.S. Scott of Champaign, engineer of the Panama Limited, and dispatchers, who were quoted as saying that the Panama Limited's safety control system was out of order. This system is an electrical device which automatically gives warning whenever the distance between two trains on the same tracks shrinks to less than half a mile. The engineer then has five seconds in which to reduce his speed. If he fails to do so, an automatic control stops his train.

Reports Control Out of Order.
Scott was quoted as saying that he reported the control system out of order at Centralia, but was told to proceed. This version was confirmed by dispatchers who added that Scott was given special instructions, and that the Louisiane was notified that the Panama Limited was following "without train control." The dispatchers are said to have reported that "the accident apparently was caused by failure of the flagman to provide proper protection."

Five all steel Pullman sleepers on the Louisiane were telescoped in the wreck as were the diner and coal tender of the Panama Limited. Most of the passengers in both trains were asleep at the time. The weather was clear. Earlier reports said it was foggy. The Panama Limited was about two miles behind the second section of the Louisiane.

Engineer John Stout of the Louisiane stopped at Arcola to pick up a Chicago passenger. During that brief stop the Panama Limited closed up the normal two mile gap. Engineer Scott of the latter train was not aware of the unscheduled stop of the Louisiane. Nevertheless, as a matter of caution, he had reduced the speed of his train from 70 miles an hour to about 30.

Fireman Leaps from Cab.
Suddenly his fireman, Fred FULFER of Champaign, shouted: "There's a rear end up there and we're going to hit!" Fulfer jumped from the cab. Scott applied his brakes, but his heavy train skidded into the Louisiane which at that moment was slowly pulling away.

Tallmadge was crushed in the wreckage. He was returning from the south with his sister, Miss Abbey Tallmadge, with whom he lived in the Homestead hotel, Evanston. Miss Tallmadge was pinned in the wreckage. She and most of the injured were brought to Chicago during the afternoon.

A vivid description of the wreck was related by H.P. Walker of Jackson, Miss., who occupied a berth across the aisle from Tallmadge.

"I happened to be awake when the crash occurred," he said. "The train had just started moving. Debris came piling all around me, and pinned me down." "The man across from me groaned for about three minutes. I judge it was two hours at least, before they were able to cut him out of the metal.

"All the lights in the car were out. It was bitterly cold. Water pipes apparently were broken, for the sound of hissing steam went all thru the car. It was fully half an hour before any one brought a light.
"From where I lay I could see the outline of a woman's head which had been knocked into such a position that it rested in a triangle of metal, trapped there. She screamed. I had a terrible feeling of frustration in not being able to help her."

On the Louisiane's two day coaches, near the engine and packed with a holiday crowd, passengers were thrown from their seats. Two of these, Dr. E.H. Webster, a student at Harvard university medical school, and Miss Eleanor Reidell, a medical student at the University of Illinois, both of whom had boarded the train at Mattoon, went into immediate action. They hurried to the telescoped sleeping cars and began administering first aid. Fifteen minutes later ambulances, doctors and nurses were on the scene.

Many thanks to Gina Wolveck (source #24) for this article
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Train News Stories

Collision of Freight Trains in Illinois
Chicago, February 4. - Early this morning a wild freight train on the Illinois Central ran into a stock train standing at the station at Peotone, Ill,. Not seeing the signals because of the heavy fog. It crashed into the caboose of the stock train
[FEB 5 1890
THE QUINCY DAILY HERALD - submitted by Src #83]

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