Chatsworth Wreck 1887

In the dark of the night on August 10, 1887 a small town in rural America became a community of heroes when an excursion train fatally crashed. The train departed from Peoria, Illinois and was headed for Niagara Falls, as more than 700 vacationers were taking advantage of a special offer to travel east. Two steam engines pulled six fully loaded wooden passenger cars, six sleeper cars, and three luggage cars. At approximately midnight of the summer of 1887, the train crossed over a trestle that had become weakened from a fire earlier in the day. The first steam engine crossed successfully, but as it was crossing, the weakened bridge collapsed. The second engine crashed into the side of the hill, and each following passenger car crashed into the back of the next. The catastrophe was one of the most devastating fatalities of the 19th century, as 85 passengers journeyed to their death and 365 others on board were injured or maimed. The citizens of Chatsworth came to the rescue for these strangers on this ill-fated train. Makeshift hospitals were set up in private homes and public buildings became morgues when the Great Chatsworth Wreck created one of the most horrifying scenes of humanity since the Civil War.

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