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Iowa History Daily: March 21 - Green Mountain Train Wreck

Iowa History Daily: At 8:17 a.m. on March 21, 1910, the worst ever railroad accident in the state of Iowa happened four miles north of Green Mountain and near Gladbrook in Marshall County. The wreck killed 52 people, including many women and children.

Earlier in the day, an unrelated wreck in Shellsburg forced all Rock Island Line trains to divert from Cedar Rapids to Waterloo over the Chicago Great Western tracks through Marshalltown. Due to the accident, the No. 19 and No. 20 trains, due on the Rock Island for St. Paul, were combined. The combined ten-car train featured two locomotives traveling backwards, pushing the tender first.

As the trains reached a point just east of the Marshall County border, the lead engine left the tracks. Two wooden cars, sandwiched between the locomotive engines and a steel Pullman car, smashed together as the train derailed. Officials after the crash believed the train ran too high a speed for the weight of the combined tonnage of the cars. 

The wooden coaches, a smoking car and a ladies’ day coach containing many children, made up the bulk of the fatalities. A sleeper, a chair car, and a baggage coach were also destroyed. “I have seen what I shall see all my life when I dream,” remarked one uninjured woman after the crash. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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