McLean County, Illinois
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News Stories on
Fires, Accidents, Train Wrecks
and other Calamities


Train Wreckers. Unsuccessful Attempt by a Gang Near Danvers, Illinois.
Bloomington, Ill., August 31 -- News has been received here of an unsuccessful attempt made by a gang of masked men early Sunday morning to burn a bridge on the Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western Railroad, near Danvers: It is thought their intention was to wreck the through express train which passes here after midnight. A farmer discovered the bridge on fire and started to quench the flames, but was commanded to "move on and let that alone." He drove hastily to Danvers, three miles distant and gave the alarm in time to stop the express. The train approached cautiously and stopped, and a half dozen men fled to the bush. The bridge was 84 feet long and 15 feet high. It had been saturated with kerosene and was badly burned. [1885 Sep 1 - Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania]

Train Thrown from the Track.
BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Oct. 1.-At 4 o'clock Wednesday morning the Indiana, Bloomington & Western west-bound passenger train was derailed at Downs by a broken locomotive axle. The speed was high, and all but the rear chair car went into the ditch. Isaac Cornell, of Ellsworth, Ill., returning from a visit to Ohio, had his shoulder broken and sustained concussion of the brain, which will be fatal. Luke Cornell, of Ellsworth, and a young son of Dr. Taylor, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa were badly cut and bruised. The others were but slightly injured. [The Argus (Rock Island), October 1, 1885, page 2]

Fatal Collision.
INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 1.-Indiana, Bloomington & Western and Indianapolis & St . Louis freights collided on the crossing of the Belt and Indiana, Bloomington & West ern roads Wednesday morning. Conductor Frank Fife, of the Indiana, Bloomington & West ern train, was killed, and twenty cars of freight smashed. Loss, $10,000. [unknown newspaper, c. October 1, 1885]

Chatsworth Train Wreck

The Flourishing City of Colfax, Illinois, Thought To Be Doomed. Bloomington, Ill., Aug. 21. -- The flourishing city of Colfax, in this county, on the Illinois Central twenty miles northeast, is in flames, and it is believed will be entirely destroyed. Bloomington has been telegraphed, asking for aid from the fire department. No particulars are likely to be obtained for some time. The Fire Under Control. At 2 o’clock the fire was under control. The total loss will reach $75,000 and several of the largest stores in town were destroyed. [August 22, 1889 - Oregonian]

Dec. 18, 1908: Two Big Four passenger trains wrecked head-on in the fog about three miles east of Danvers. Seven people were hurt, the worst being engineer John Stacker of Urbana. He is hospitalized with scalds and burns. Stacker was driving the westbound train.
[The Pantagraph - How Time Flies - By Jack Keefe]

Dec. 21, 1908: Engineer John Stacker, seriously injured in the wreck of two passenger trains near Danvers a few days ago, will probably not lose an arm due to his injuries. Also, the Urbana paper says facts will come out to show the head-on wreck was not his fault.
[The Pantagraph - How Time Flies - By Jack Keefe]

It’s Christmas Day. Stanford residents are relieved that the volunteer fire department could save their bank building from a difficult blaze that began night before last in Armstrong’s Hardware Store. [Dec. 25, 1933, The Pantagraph - How Time Flies - By Jack Keefe]

Three explosions rocked the Bloomington-Normal Sanitary District plant on West Oakland Avenue. They could be heard all over town. Authorities blame gasoline in the sanitary sewer system for the blast. Worker David Peasley of Heyworth was injured. [Dec. 15, 1958, The Pantagraph - How Time Flies - By Jack Keefe]

For many it was a merry Christmas. But in Shirley, the Larry Atkins family will return from Kentucky to find their house burned down. They had bought it only a few months ago.[The Pantagraph - How Time Flies, Dec. 26, 1958 - By Jack Keefe]

The Harold Wright Family of 1211 West Hovey, Normal, returned from church to find their home and most of their belongings destroyed by fire. Firemen say a circulating oil heater in the living room was the cause. Loss was set at $6000. [Dec. 29, 1958, The Pantagraph - How Time Flies by: Jack Keefe]


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