C.W. Scott's

Train Wreck Pictures


Landslide -vs- Train

December 27, 1959, A train carrying 188 passengers coming home to Seattle from Christmas vacation were wiped off the land and into the Puget Sound by two separate landslides. The combination carried away both tracks and train.

On the Puget Sound, north of Carkeek Park, as it turns out, the Great Northern inspector had just been on the scene an hour before. He said everything was alright, well so much for that, take a look......

Lead unit number 363-C in the drink ~ 9:00am Monday

Most of the passengers only felt a jolt ? Mrs. Erica Buffalow, "I saw a storm of mud coming over the tree tops. It happened so fast I couldn't scream"

Night Train

"I was in the first dome car, shown here on the right," Clyde Scott, brakeman"

Cleaning up the wreckage

A huge slide went crashing down on the 50 mile per hour train.

Melvin Rake, Fireman, "It was the trees I saw first, then the rock, and all of a sudden the whole hillside was coming down on us"

Dropping trucks to reduce gross weight

"I yelled at the engineer to dump the air and we both dived into the center walkway of the engine. He landed on top of me and we were both knocked out" Melvin Rake, fireman.......


Dragging the trucks along the bottom

Dr Marvin Wallice, an Empire Builder passenger and radiologist, waded through knee deep mud to help fireman Rake with the injured engineer Burns. Passengers and crewmen lifted the heavy engineer from the diesel to a Coast Guard cutter that was able to pull along side in the shallow water.

Every available ambulance was called out when the first reports trickled in......

Lead unit in the drink

"That Coast Guard cutter crew really saved our necks. They got us into the boat just a minute before the second slide hit all four engines and the baggage car. That slide really pushed them out into the bay" Pat Burns, engineer.


Engine cab

The second slide came about 20 minutes after the first avalanche at 4:00 pm. Four men ran for their lives.

Crews went to work from both north and south sides cleaning up the wreckage......

Loading the unit on a barge

"When the slide hit the tracks, the tie plates were flying past me like bullets," Lynn Watts baggageman on the Empire Builder, who had manned the radio-telephone was knocked out when the first slide hit the train.

The railroad sent two 125 ton cranes to the scene, one belonging to Great Northern, the other to Northern Pacific........

Flopped over on its side

Dr. Wallice narrowly escpaed the second slide by jumping aboard the Coast Guard cutter.

The smashed up remains tips over on the barge........


The disaster scene was so remote, would be rescuers had to walk in about a mile and a half along the tracks from Richmond Beach.

The train scrap is piling up on the barge.....

Interbay Roundhouse

The two injured woman passengers, Florence Simmons and Mrs. Florence Tennert. Great Northern employees injured were dining car worker James Robinson, L.A. Watts, riding in the baggage car, was thrown the length of the the car.

Workers decide where to begin cutting..........

Interbay Roundhouse

The 11 passenger cars of train were pulled back to King Street Station where passengers were re-routed via the Milwaukee Road to Spokane.

Nothing that some train bondo cant fix.......

Smashed car of the witness

Special comment was made on the action of John latimer for reporting the derailmant and pinpointing it's exact location. "Without this cooperation, it is doubtful that we would have been able to save the lives of the fireman and the engineer," a Coast Guard spokesman said.

In Spokane, their cars were switched back to Great Northern tracks.......

Debris Removed - Rail Service Restored

Workers managed to retrieve all mail and baggage from the Empire Builders mail-bagage car. A Great Northern Railway Co. spokesman said their appeared to be little is any damage to the mail or baggage.

The thick unstable soils can be shacken loose by the vibrations produced by a passing train, which usually sends the head end into the (drink) waters of the puget sound