Train Wrecks in Warren County

Through the years Warren County has witnessed several serious railroad accidents.

Wabash Route Wreck, 1890 Truesdale, MO

Two freight trains collided just outside of Truesdale and both engines and 18 cars were wrecked. Seven men were killed and several wounded.  Of eight palace cars, laden race horses, en route to the Kansas City races, two were wrecked and seven men in charge of the horses were reported killed. Fifteen horses were also killed and a number of trainmen injured.

Cars and engines were intermingled in one large mass of debris from which screams came of the wounded and dying. One jockey was buried under shelled corn from which it took several men three hours to extricate him. A force of men worked from 2:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the scene. There were eight dead and twenty-five wounded.

Both engines were compete wrecks and about six palace cars were demolished. It was impossible to find out how many horses were killed at that time, as there were a great many still underneath the wreck. It is estimated the loss of the company was $200,000. There were 70 horses on the train.

Wabash Route Wreck, 1943, Wright City, MO

Twenty-seven cars of a St. Louis-bound Wabash freight train were derailed one half mile west of Wright City, Saturday morning about 6 0’clock, attracting hundreds of motorists along nearby Highway 40 who came to see a spectacular wreck and remained o gaze hungrily as the wrecking crews neatly stacked hue side of beef along the right of way.

The derailed cars included six refrigerator car of dressed beef, 10 cars of shelled corn, one car of barley , one car og see potatoes, one car of empty beer bottles and kegs, two cars of equipments for the U. S. Army and one car miscellaneous merchandise consisting mostly of butter, lard, and dog food. The total loss in damaged merchandise was estimated at $40,000.

Approximately one one eighth mile of track was torn up by the wreck, but Wabash officials were able to reroute their trains over the Burlington line’s tracks. Several cars were badly wrecked after telescoping and splintering as they left the rails. One rail was bent into a half circle.

MKT Wreck, 1943 Marthasville- Augusta, MO

Eleven freight cars and four tank cars derailed. Local section men were called to the Katy wreck. They put in a lot of time Saturday and Sunday clearing the tracks.

As an aside, beloved Warren County school teacher, Miss Polson, for an assignment  had two students from Holstein write up the accounts of the Katy train wreck. These accounts were printed in the school paper, the 3R’s, a paper published by Miss Polston. Who were the young news writers? Phyllis Meyer and Glen Huenefeld.

Burlington Wreck, 1966.   New Truxton, MO

On July 13, 1966, excessive heat supposedly caused the railroad tracks at New Truxton to expand which caused the derailment of 24 cars of a Burlington freight train. The train was headed to Kansas City from East St. Louis. The wreck occurred after the engine and first car passed over the overheated rail. One of the derailed cars was balanced on top of two other cars high above the level of the engine. There were no injuries.

“The wreck is one of the most spectacular train wrecks that I’ve ever seen. Overheated rails are rare,” said, I. G. Toland, division superintendent at Hannibal.

This story was provided by the Warren County Historical Society, which is funded by donations and run by volunteers.

The museum is located at 102 W. Walton in Warrenton, and is open from 10 to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, to attend an event or to make a donation, call 636-456-3820 or email museum@warrencountymohistory.com. Website: warrencountymohistory.com

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