COLLISION AT FAIR
Engineer Ryan and Fireman Hall Killed
C., P. & St. L. Engine Left Track Because of a Broken Rail and
Dashed into C. & A. Engine – Part of Hall’s Body Still Buried
A disastrous wreck, one
which resulted in the loss of two lives, occurred at the southeast gate
of the state fair grounds yesterday afternoon at 4:20 o’clock. A
Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis fair ground suburban train was thrown from
the track by a broken rail, and collided with a Chicago & Alton suburban
train entering the grounds on an adjacent track. Both engines were
demolished, and the engineer and fireman on the C., P. & St. L. were
killed, and a brakeman was injured.
JOHN D. RYAN, engineer on
the C. P. & St. L. train.
JEREMIAH P. HALL, fireman
on the C. P. & St. L. train.
J. Mack, brakeman on the C. P. & St. L. train; injured about the
body, perhaps fatally.
The wreck is one of the
most disastrous that has ever occurred in Springfield, and one which
cast a gloom over the community. At the time of the accident a large
crowd were making merry within the state fair grounds. Suddenly there
was a terrible crash, and two lives had been crushed out beneath a
mighty mass of iron. The news of the horrible accident spread rapidly
about the grounds and in an instant large crowds were going toward the
scene. For a moment none could imagine the cause of the excitement and
hurry, but shortly it was announced that two men had been killed, and
this cast a gloom over the large crowd and everything was calm.
RYAN’S WIFE WAS NEAR
None on the
grounds at the time of the horrible accident seemed to realize that
within the gates of the state fair grounds, and only a short distance
away from the wreck, was the wife of Engineer John Ryan. She was on the
scene shortly, and soon learned the worst. Her husband had been buried
beneath the engine. The heartbroken, wailing wife was led from the
scene as soon as possible, and taken to her home on South Eighth
Street. Beneath the C. & A. engine, and only a short distance from
Engineer Ryan, lay the body of his fireman, Jeremiah Hall. Life was
extinct. Death of both railroaders is believed to have been
instantaneous. The news of the sad accident was soon conveyed to the
city, and to the families of the unfortunate victims. The scenes of
sadness presented at the homes of the two men last night can only be
imagined. At the Ryan residence, Eighth and Cedar streets, was his
wife, and beside her, her six children, weeping for the husband and
father. At the Hall residence, Sixteenth and Cook streets, the scene
was the same. A widow and three children survive.
The C. P.
& St. L. train was entering at the southeast gate of the state fair
grounds at 4:20 o’clock. To the west, a distance of only a few feet,
was entering the Chicago and Alton. Both trains were running at a fair
rate of speed, and the rail beneath the former train broke. The train
left the track and dashed into the moving Chicago & Alton train. A
terrible crash followed, which could be heard for some distance. The C.
P. & St. L. engine overturned, carrying with it the engineer and
fireman, and their bodies were caught beneath the Chicago & Alton
engine. The Chicago & Alton engine was leaning on its side, having run
into the house occupied by the custodian of the fair grounds, and
damaged it to some extent. The building was partially knocked from its
foundation. Luckily no one was in the house at the time. The coaches
which were attached to the engines were badly damaged. Both engines are
completely wrecked, and the track for some distance was torn up.
A wrecking crew was
immediately sent for, and willing hands at once went to work in an
attempt to locate the bodies of the missing engineer and fireman. The
search continued for some time, and finally the body of Engineer Ryan
was found beneath the engine. An attempt was made to free him, but to
no avail. The weight of the front end of the engine which was upon him,
had crushed out his life. The wrecking crew at this time arrived, and
the weight of the heavy engine was lifted and the body was freed about 6
BODY STILL IN WRECK
Fireman Hall was found
lying between the drivers of the Chicago and Alton engine. It was an
impossibility to free him, as one driver of the engine stood upon the
form. Work of clearing the wreck to rescue the body continued
throughout the night, and a part of the body was recovered at an early
hour this morning. The weight of the iron mass gradually cut its way
through the human mass, and severed it. The trunk was removed, but the
lower limbs are still beneath the ruin. Throughout the evening, and
late into the night a large gang of men were busily engaged at the
wreckage, in an attempt to clear it, though little headway was made. It
is not probable that the remainder of Hall’s body will be taken from the
wreck until a steam derrick can be procured to place the leaning Chicago
& Alton engine on the track.
The scene which the
wreck presented last night was indeed a dismal one. The C. P. & St. L.
engine lay on its side, and only a short distance west lay the disabled
Chicago & Alton engine. Tracks were torn up and the house on the fair
grounds was almost wrecked. This, however, was not to compare with the
loss of human life, which had been caused by the accident.
Exactly how the
accident occurred, and just how the engineer and fireman on the C. P. &
St. L. engine were caught, and their life crushed out beneath the
Chicago and Alton engine, is not and probably never will be known. The
men, who alone could tell the story, are dead. The engine when it was
derailed ran into the front end of the engine of the adjoining track,
and ran into the house. The C. P. & St. L. engine turned over on its
side. It is very probable that the engineer and fireman, so sudden did
the appalling accident occur, did not have time to attempt to escape,
and were thrown out of the cab, beneath the other engine. Some believe,
however, that the fireman left his engine, and was followed by Engineer
Ryan, and both jumped, only to light beneath the grinding wheels of the
ON THE C.
& A. TRAIN
Engineer John Ettinger,
who was at the throttle of the Alton engine, escaped with a severe
shaking up. Both he and his fireman were not aware of any danger until
the other engine collided with theirs. They were thrown from their seat
boxes, and onto the ground. Neither was injured. Brakeman A. J. Mack,
on the ill-fated C. P. & St. L. train, saw the engine leave the track.
He attempted to jump and was thrown against a post and severely
injured. He was picked up and immediately taken to Springfield
Hospital, where an examination of his injuring revealed the fact that
three ribs on his left side were broken, his right shoulder injured, and
he was otherwise bruised and scarred about the body and limbs. He
suffered much pain last night.
When the accident
occurred a number of physicians were summoned and went to the scene
immediately to render assistance, but no one was injured with the
exception of the brakeman, and it was beyond their power to assist the
two men beneath the engine.
BROKEN RAIL UNKNOWN
What caused the broken
rail cannot be accounted for. It is a fact that this track leading into
the state fair grounds is only used once a year, but road officials
state that a short time ago the track was inspected and repaired. They
say that yesterday morning it was in the best of condition.
The body of Engineer
Ryan, after being removed from the wreck was taken to Foster’s
undertaking parlors. The face and head were badly bruised, and on the
left temple was a deep gash, which penetrated the skull. The remains
were taken to the family residence, Eighth and Cedar streets, this
morning. Engineer John Ryan was 42 years old. He was well and
favorably known in Springfield, where he has resided for many years.
The greater part of his life he spent in railroading, and on all roads
which he had worked was a most trusted employee. He was a general
favorite with his fellow employees, and none will miss him more than
they. For many years he was employed on the Wabash road, and left that
company during the strike of 1894. About three years ago he secured a
position on the C. P. & St. L. road in the capacity of engineer, and was
a trusted employee. He is survived by his wife and six children.
Walter, William, Francis, Annie, Elizabeth, and Marguerite, and three
sisters, Mrs. Margaret Hughes, of Chicago; Mrs. Nora Davidson, of
Springfield, and Mrs. Beard, of Bluffs, Ia; also his mother, Mrs.
Hurley, of Bluffs, but who at present is in Chicago. Mr. Ryan was a
member of the Knights of Columbus court No. 181, Order of Foresters, and
division No. 416, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. He was also an
associate member of the Modern Woodmen of America.
Fireman Jeremiah Hall
resided at 1528 East Cook street. He was 36 years of age. He was also
an old employee of the Wabash road, leaving in the strike of 1894. Two
years ago he went to work for the C. P. & St. L. road. For some time he
was employed as engineer of the switch engine, and only a few days
returned from St. Louis, where he was acting in that capacity. He was
acting as foreman during fair week when he was killed. He leaves a wife
and three small children, Catherine, Mary Ellen and Dennis Hall. He
also leaves his father, Thomas Hall, and four sisters Mrs. Mary Hickey,
Maggie Dunham, Mrs. Katie Engle and Annie, all of Springfield, and three
brothers, Edward and Thos. Hall, of Springfield and Dennis Hall, who is
now in the south. He was a member of court No. 181, Order of Foresters.
The funeral arrangements of neither have yet been
completed. Coroner Baer will hold the inquest this afternoon.
Illinois State Register
- September 26, 1900
Engineer and Fireman Killed at Fair Grounds
Engines Causes a Loss of Two Lives
Broken Rail the Cause of the Initial Accident During the Week
of The State Fair
Engines on the Chicago,
Peoria & St. Louis and Chicago & Alton railroads collided at the
entrance to the state fair grounds at 4:20 o’clock yesterday afternoon.
Two trainmen were killed and two other men were seriously injured.
JOHN D. RYAN, engineer
JERRY HALL, fireman
J. Mack, brakeman
T. F. Crotty of Los
Angeles Cal., passenger
The accident occurred
within fifty feet of the entrance to the exposition grounds, at a time
when the station platforms within the grounds were crowded with persons
waiting to take trains for the city.
followed the crash of the engines. A number of women fainted and the
crowd was temporarily panic stricken. Ryan and Hall were thrown beneath
the tons of steel of the big Alton engine and both were instantly
killed. Mack, who was on the C. P. & St. L. train, jumped when the
crash came. He was caught by the flying debris and sustained a fracture
of two ribs and a bruised shoulder. Crotty was aboard the Chicago &
Alton train, riding in the front coach. He was thrown violently against
a forward seat by the crash and received a cut on the scalp and a
fracture of one rib.
A broken rail on the
tracks of the C. P. & St. L. road caused the accident. At the entrance
to the fair grounds the tracks of the two roads run parallel for a
considerable distance. Two suburban trains, carrying passengers to and
from the exposition grounds, were entering the grounds side by side, the
C. P. & St. L. leading by half an engine length. Fifty feet from the
entrance to the grounds the engine struck the defective rail. The
forward trucks of the locomotive were thrown from the tracks; the iron
monster reared on its rear trucks, seemed to hesitate for an instant and
then plunged toward the Alton engine, running alongside.
When the recreant
engine left the tracks both crews of enginemen jumped for their lives.
John Ettinger, engineer of the Alton engine, remained at his post and
was uninjured. W. S. of Bloomington, fireman of the Alton engine, made
the following statement of the affair to the representative of the
“When the rail of the
C. P. & St. L. track broke it threw their engine upon us, just as we
came up alongside. They had passed us and were about a car length and a
half ahead. If we had been running at a high rate of speed, we would
have been killed also; or, if, instead of toppling upon us they had run
straight ahead into our engine it would, in all probability, have killed
us instead of them.
“I did not leave my
post, but closed the throttle and set the brake and was one of the last
to join the crowd that had formed as if by magic. Bryant, my fireman,
jumped in time to save himself from injury.”
Fireman Bryant said:
“When I saw what was happening I jumped. How I cleared the wire
fence I don’t know, but I struck in that tree in front of us.”
Illinois State Journal
- September 26, 1900