The #297 shown here was one of UT's first deluxe cars (along with #298). Both had parlor and buffet features.
On September 21, 1910, a wreck occured on the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley's Bluffton Division just north of Kingsland.
A Indiana Union Traction car, filled with people going to a fair in Ft. Wayne and a WV car which was running empty (except for the motorman and conductor) headed from Ft. Wayne to Bluffton to pick up more passengers for the fair, collided head-on.
The WV car was two stops beyond its scheduled meeting site with the UTC car, and was running 60 mph. The UTC car, which had stopped north of Bluffton to put on a WV crew, had just stopped again to pick up passengers, and was picking up speed, when the two cars collided on a curve. Growth along the r-o-w prevented the crews from seeing the other car until it was too late to stop.
The heavy metal WV car ran about half way through the lighter wooden UTC car, and all the 42 people killed were on the UTC car. The crews of both cars survived.
Among those killed was Louis C. Justus who headed the Bluffton, Geneva & Celina Traction Co. He reportedly was planning to construct an interurban line running west from Ft. Wayne along what became U.S. 30, but nothing was ever built due to his death.
The Union Traction car was reportedly burned at the site, while the Wabash Valley car was repaired.
Thanks, to Dick Salomon for the above information.
More on the Kingsland wreck.
The following is from an email that was forwarded to me from Charles Willer.
30 years ago we interviewed a UT motorman who said Motorman Corkwell was so infamous that if you pulled a major operational boner, you were said to have "Pulled a Corkwell"! He had 90 demerits at the time of the wreck, 50 of which he got just before the wreck.
Conductor Wilson had barely passed the written test to make Interurban Service the DAY BEFORE!
For crying out loud, they passed the Yoder Siding without calling in, they STOPPED in Ossian so Wilson could get some matches and DID NOT CALL IN. They sailed past Ossian and Erie Sidings and thanks to ONE OF YOUR
PHOTOS, we have determined the crash happened just north of the curve, not south of the curve nor on the curve. You have the only photo I have ever seen with LE&W track showing in foreground.
If Van Dine had been 5 seconds later or Corkwell 10 second earlier, they might have had a hard bump instead! If Van Dine was 20 seconds later and Corkwell 30 seconds earlier, they would have had a staring match at the Erie diamonds.
I have just discovered a 1980 Wabash College student research paper on the ISC that has even more details on the wreck... and other wierd stuff like the original propsal for the FW&SW line I am writing a book about. The original promoters called it Oil City Traction and they were rich from Ohio oil. I guess they BOUGHT the towpath, but never got track started. I NEVER knew about THAT part of the history until some Wabash College student dragged it out for his FRESHMAN research paper (!)
- Charlie Willer -
A disasterous wreck occurred on Ground Hog Day, Feb. 2, 1924, just west of the village of Alfont, on the line between Anderson and Indianapolis. The wreck involved wooden cars # 276 (Montpelier) and # 286, both pulling trailers. The wreck was caused by the interurban headed for Anderson not being able to make speed, over running it's meet, and colliding headon with the interurban enroute to Indianapolis. The cars telescoped (as in the photo above), the wood stoves overturned, and a fire broke out. Many people who were otherwise unhurt, died because of the seats in front of them being pushed back and pinning their legs. Trapping them in the inferno.
Note: There is a common grave at Maplewood Cemetery in Anderson containing the bodies of the four unidentified victims.
Until recently, scaps of metal and glass could still be found in the field where the wreck occured. Due to the new construction of storage buildings on the site, all evidence of the wreck site has been obliterated.
TO READ THE OFFICIAL ICC REPORT OF THE ALFONT WRECK, CLICK HERE and follow the links to Historical RR accidents, and then click on 1924.
E. Maplewood Cemetery, Anderson, In.(J.J.Grant collection)
Wreck, location unknown.
Anderson interurban station.
UTC of I padlock
UTC of I padlock
Orestes, In. station