1941 : Lansing’s Worst Train Wreck

October 7, 2018 all-day

On Tuesday October 7, 1941 a hurtling boxcar smashed into the southwest corner of the building, gouging a hole and partially collapsing the roof.

Approximately a quarter after 4 pm, as the freight train passed through town, wheels on the 18th car behind the locomotive fractured. It jumped the track causing the remaining 32 cars to jam and derail. The initial car was as thrown across Cedar Street. One of the following boxcars plunged into the station. Witnesses estimated the train was traveling nearly 70 miles per hour.

The smashed and twisted wreckage lay scattered for nearly a quarter mile along the track, a block west of Washington to Cedar. Thousands gathered to survey the splintered boxcars and demolished station. The lone fatality was 13-year-old newspaper boy James R. Smith, who was selling magazines. He was hit by flying wreckage as he stood on the platform. Over a dozen others were hospitalized. Many more suffered minor injuries. Beds at St. Lawrence and Edward S. Sparrow hospitals exceeded capacity.

Source : David Votta, History Librarian and Archivist for the Capital Area District Library, “Lost Lansing: Grand Trunk train wreck of 1941”, Lansing Online News, August 2, 2010.  Reposted by Muskegon Railroad Historical Society.

For another see Stu Beitler, “Lansing, MI Train Wreck At Depot, Oct 1941”, GenDisasters, July 16, 2012, based on an article from the Marshall Evening Chronicle, October 8, 1941.

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