Rock Island Train Wreck – Green Mountain, Iowa

IA, Gladbrookss
The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, 21 Mar 1910,

WHAT: Train wreck
WHEN: March 21, 1910 – 8:17 a.m.
WHERE: Between Green Mountain and Gladbrook, Iowa
FATALITIES: 52 dead, 39 injured

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From the front page of the La Crosse Tribune, Monday, March 21, 1910:

The worst wreck in the history of Iowa railroading occurred at 8:17 a. m. today four miles north of Green Mountain on the Chicago Great Western tracks when a Rock island double, header passenger train of twelve coaches went off the track killing forty people and injuring an equal number; some of whom will die.
DES MOINES, Iowa, March 21. A double header Rock Island passenger went into the ditch early this i morning at Green Mountain, Marshall county, and many were killed. The number of dead being estimated from 30 to 42.
Numbers 19 and 20, passenger, trains on the Rock Island for St. Paul due to leave Cedar Rapids at 12:30 and 1 o’clock this morning were held up because of a  wreck on the line. These two trains were consolidated and made into a double header which r left over the Northwestern tracks to Marshalltown and thence started for Waterloo over the Chicago Great Western train. The train while running at a high rate of speed left the track eight miles from Marshalltown. Among the dead are Jacob Neuholz and Harry Mott, Cedar Rapids.
Wreck Is Burning
Latest reports, from the scene of the wreck say that 42 are dead and nearly twice as many injured. Wrecking trains from Waterloo and , Marshalltown are on the scene and scores of doctors from the country nearby have rushed to the scene In automobiles. Both engines were wrecked and three coaches filled with people were piled upon them and the entire mass caught fire and is burning. The relief trains have been’ loaded with the dead and injured, and will be taken to Marshalltown, where they will be cared for.
Many homes have been thrown’ open to receive the injured.
A passenger telephoned here that 37 dead had been laid out along the tracks. None of the dead have been positively identified.
Cause Not Known
One sleeper, one chair car and on baggage coach were destroyed. Few of the details have reached; here but it is said that most of the persons killed were riding in the chair car when the wreck occurred. The cause of the derailment is not known. .
Gen. Manager Tinsan said this afternoon: “We have already begun a thorough investigation. So far we know nothing except the wreck occurred and that a number of persons were killed. We are hoping that the death list will not be as great as at first reported.”
A Double Header
According to Rock Island officials here the wreck occurred between 8 and 9 a. m. today, 15 miles from Marshalltown, Iowa, and four miles from Gladbrook, Iowa. The train was a consolidation of two Minneapolis-St. Paul trains which left Chicago and St. Louis last night.
It was a double header and was running over the tracks of the Great Western on account of a wreck on the Rock Island.
The front engine was derailed, the officials declare, and the second engine and three cars toppled over. All three cars, one a sleeper, and one a passenger coach, were destroyed.

All in all, a total of 52 people would perish and 35 more were injured. The accident remains the deadliest wreck in the history of Iowa. No official cause was ever listed, although it was probably going too fast with too much weight.

Train wrecks were a popular subject in early postcards. The wreckage had a tendency to look splintered and spectacularly awesome. The on-lookers and covered bodies added to the scene of chaos.

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Looking at the damage to the railroad tracks after over 50 people died in this horrific train wreck near Green Mountain and Gladbrook, Iowa on March 21,1910. 1910 postmark .Courtesy Grinnell College
Children looking over the demolished coal car and engine after over 50 people died in this horrific train wreck near Green Mountain and Gladbrook, Iowa on March 21,1910. Courtesy Grinnell College

IA, Gladbrook

The names of the dead are listed below. Interesting to note that even in death race had to be identfied.

A.P. ADAMS, Wilmar, Minn., identification incomplete
J. BAMBRIDGE, Toronto, Ont.
LOUIE BIEBUCK, Muscatine, Ia.
THOMAS G. BETTS, traveling man, Cedar Rapids, Ia.
GEORGE P. BUNT, Waterloo, Ia.
ALFRED X. BROWN, Waterloo, Ia.
MRS. ALFRED X. BROWN, Waterloo, Ia.
FRED COLTON, Washington, Ia.
R. E. CHARTER, Cedar Rapids, Ia.
MRS. WALTER DAVIS, Waterloo, Ia.
C. G. EVES, West Branch, Ia.
W. W. EGGERS, Waterloo, Ia.
F.F. FISHER, West Branch, Ia.
DAVID FAUST, Dalhart, Tex, partial identification
J. S. GOODNOUGH, Cedar Rapids, Ia.
MAY HOFFMAN, Waterloo, Ia.
N. C. HEACOCK, West Liberty, Ia.
FRANK HEINZ or HURTZ, Muscatine, Ia.
CAESAR C. HOFF, Burlington, Ia.
DR. LEWIS, woman physician, Haley Junction, Ia.
F. D. LYMAN, Waterloo, Ia.
MRS. B. G. LYMAN, Cedar Rapids, Ia.
EARL T. MAINE, Williamsfield, Ia.
J. NAUHOLZ, Cedar Rapids, Ia.
MRS. PEATS, Gladbrook, Ia.
BESSIE PURVIS, Washington, Ia.
ARCHIE PRICE, colored, Cedar Rapids, Ia.
MILTON PARRISH, Cedarville, Mo.
H. L. PENNINGTON, Galesburg, Ia.
L. W. PARRISH, Cedar Falls, Ia.
R. B. ROBINSON, Cedar Rapids, Ia.
GEORGE ROSS, Cedar Rapids, Ia.
ROBERT L. TANGEN, Northwood, Ia.
E. M. WORTHINGTON, address unknown.
WILLIAM WARD, West Branch, Ia.
ANDREW J. WHITE, colored St. Paul, Minn.
A. X. BROWN, wife and two daughters, of Waterloo, Ia.
BESSIE SERVICE of Washington, Ia.
M. B. KENNEDY, of Burlington, Ia.

One thought on “Rock Island Train Wreck – Green Mountain, Iowa

  1. Interesting article. Thank you. Another, albeit indirect, victim of the Green Mountain train wreck was Dr. E.W. Jay of Marshalltown. He died from injuries received when a horse-drawn ambulance he was riding on (while tending to a victim of the train wreck) overturned at the corner of West Main and 13th Street, just a block from St. Thomas Hospital in Marshalltown. He is the only person connected with the train wreck who was buried at Riverside Cemetery, a large historic cemetery in Marshalltown.

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