Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Haunted rail

Forrest is a rather non-remarkable town located on the prairie of north central Illinois. Forrest is located on a railroad line most noted for tragedy. On the night of August 10, 1887, an excursion train on the Toledo, Peoria & Western Railroad encountered a burning bridge about seven miles east of town. Unable to stop in time, the train collapsed the burning structure, plunging into the ravine and destroying two engines and many of the 20 wooden passenger cars.

Harper’s Weekly published a gripping account of the wreck and reported 600 passengers on the train bound from Peoria to Niagara Falls. Reports vary on the number of those killed in the accident. A nearby historical marker states that 85 people perished in the wreck, the worst in U.S. history.

Today the railroad history of the town is commemorated in a small park off U.S. Highway 24 and Illinois Highway 47 and within a stone's throw of the ill-fated railway. This photo was taken to capture the essence of those railroading days gone by.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

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