Today’s Rumbling Yet Truly Morbid Fact!
It occurred to me that although I’d shared my review of the book The White Cascade I had neglected to share the full story of the Wellington Train Disaster. This is an excellent summary of that dreadful night in the Cascades. – DeSpair
During the early morning hours of March 1, 1910, an avalanche roared down Windy Mountain near Stevens Pass in the Cascade Mountains, taking with it two Great Northern trains and 96 victims. This was one of the worst train disasters in U.S. history and the worst natural disaster (with the greatest number of fatalities) in Washington.
On February 23, 1910, after a snow delay at the east Cascade Mountains town of Leavenworth, two Great Northern trains, the Spokane Local passenger train No. 25 and Fast Mail train No. 27, proceeded westbound towards Puget Sound. There were five or six steam and electric engines, 15 boxcars, passenger cars, and sleepers.
The trains had passed through the Cascade Tunnel from the east to the west side of the mountains, when snow and avalanches forced them to stop near Wellington, in King County. Wellington was a small town populated almost entirely with Great Northern railway employees.
The train stopped under the peak of Windy Mountain, above Tye Creek. Heavy snowfall and avalanches made it impossible for train crews to clear the tracks. For six days, the trains waited in blizzard and avalanche conditions. On February 26, the telegraph lines went down and communication with the outside was lost. On the last day of February, the weather turned to rain with thunder and lightning. Thunder shook the snow-laden Cascade Mountains alive with avalanches. Then it happened.
On March 1, some time after midnight, Charles Andrews, a Great Northern employee, was walking towards the warmth of one of the Wellington’s bunkhouses when he heard a rumble. He turned toward the sound. In 1960, he described what he witnessed:
“White Death moving down the mountainside above the trains. Relentlessly it advanced, exploding, roaring, rumbling, grinding, snapping — a crescendo of sound that might have been the crashing of ten thousand freight trains. It descended to the ledge where the side tracks lay, picked up cars and equipment as though they were so many snow-draped toys, and swallowing them up, disappeared like a white, broad monster into the ravine below” (Roe, 88).
One of the 23 survivors interviewed three days after the Wellington train disaster stated:
“There was an electric storm raging at the time of the avalanche. Lighting flashes were vivid and a tearing wind was howling down the canyon. Suddenly there was a dull roar, and the sleeping men and women felt the passenger coaches lifted and borne along. When the coaches reached the steep declivity they were rolled nearly 1,000 feet and buried under 40 feet of snow” (Roe, 87).
A surviving train conductor sleeping in one of the mail train cars was thrown from the roof to the floor of the car several times as the train rolled down the slope before it disintegrated when the train slammed against a large tree.
Charles Andrews would not make it to the bunkhouse warmth for many hours. Along with other Wellington residents, Andrews rushed to the crushed trains that lay 150 feet below the railroad tracks. During the next few hours they dug out 23 survivors, many with injuries.
Some of the train wreckage after the avalanche.
In the days that followed, news of the tragedy that reached the rest of the country was inaccurate. On March 1 there were reports of “30 feared dead.” On March 2 there were “15 bodies … recovered … [and] 69 persons missing. One hundred and fifty men, mostly volunteers, are working to uncover the dead.” On March 3 a headline stated, “VICTIMS NOW REACH 118.”
The injured were sent to Wenatchee. The bodies of the dead were transported on toboggans down the west side of the Cascades to trains that carried them to Everett and Seattle. Ninety-six people died in the avalanche, including 35 passengers, 58 railroad employees sleeping on the trains, and three railroad employees sleeping in cabins enveloped by the avalanche.
Slip-slidin’ the bodies away.
The immediate cause of the avalanche was the rain and thunder. But, conditions had been set by the clear cutting of timber and by forest fires caused by steam locomotive sparks, which opened up the slopes above the tracks and created an ideal environment for slides to occur.
It took the Great Northern three weeks to repair the tracks before trains started running again over Stevens Pass. Because the name Wellington became associated with the disaster, the little town was renamed Tye. By 1913, to protect the trains from snow slides, the Great Northern had constructed snow-sheds over the nine miles of tracks between Scenic and Tye.
In 1929, a new tunnel was built, making the old grade obsolete. This 1929 tunnel is still today (2003) used by the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad.
The old grade is now the Iron Goat Trail, a hiking trail through the forest and past various examples of railroad archeology. The name Iron Goat was taken from the Great Northern Railway corporate symbol — a mountain goat standing on a rock. “Iron goat” was applied to Great Northern locomotives climbing mountainous rail line in the Rockies or Cascade mountains.
Culled from: HistoryLink.Org
Arcane Excerpts: Ordinary Drunken Edition
I love reading old medical texts, as much for the social criticisms found within them as for the shaky science. I was just reading this discussion of Alcoholism from the 1924 opusHealth Knowledge, Vol II by the Domestic Health Society and I just had to share.
Symptoms. – Ordinary drunkenness is too common to need much description. First the person is brightened, his spirits rise, his conversation is witty, and the blood runs joyously through his veins. As he becomes really drunk a phase of depression-excitement comes on; one person becomes angry, resents fancied affronts, and tries to pick quarrels, another becomes melancholy, a third grows maudlin [Guilty as charged – DeSpair], and weepingly recounts the secrets of his family to perfect strangers, while a fourth type assumes a regal manner and gives away his money and valuables or makes promises which he cannot possibly fulfill, and all lose the controlling power of reason. A third stage is that in which all feeling of shame is lost, and there is dullness of sense and loss of power, the drunken man or woman reeling or falling and rising with difficulty. The fourth stage is popularly known as “dead drunk”; the person lies in a state of insensibility, with stertorous breathing and dilated pupils.
Mania a potu is the form which often affects neurotic young men or women with a family taint of insanity. [Oh wait, maybe this is me? – DeSpair] A state of excitement, fury, or violence, sometimes with attempts at murder or suicide, comes on after, it may be, only a few glasses of spirits, and lasts some hours or days, without any tendency to dullness or sleep. [Sounds familiar. – DeSpair]
Delirium tremens is the most serious form, and is popularly known as “blue-devils,” [Duke’s mascot is named after alcoholism? Makes sense! – DeSpair] because of the hallucinations accompanying the state. It follows on a long course of drinking which had ended in a bout, or may be brought on by an injury or business worries in a heavy drinker; or even, it is said, by the sudden stoppage of excessive drinking, but it does not follow a single “spree.” Tremors all over the body, but especially in the hands and tongue, are the first sign of its onset, then complete loss of appetite, sickness, rise of temperature, weak pulse, and constant purposeless movements. Finally hallucinations come on; spiders, flies, mice, rats are described on the clothes or floor, or disgusting objects like snakes, toads, and demons [“We’re just as God made us, sir!” – Snakes, Toads and Demons], or the bystanders are taken for policemen, hangmen, etc., and the furniture distorts itself into weird shapes. Lastly, delirium of a terrified or raging type comes on, in which there is more or less danger of suicide or homicide. Pneumonia of a serious type is apt to ensue , and if these two be combined the case is usually fatal. About ten per cent of hospital cases die owing to exposure before admission, but in private practice most cases recover.
Causes.– The alcoholic habit is of two kinds: vicious, in which people, often in the lower strata of society, drink because their associates do, because they have no sense of their duties to society and love the stimulating and soddening effect of drink, though they have no absolute craving therefor, or because they are driven by their misery and worries to find the only relief from their woes in drunkenness; and diseased, in which persons often of fine mental and moral feeling, are driven, sometimes irresistibly, always against their wish, to satisfy a craving for the effects of alcohol, regardless of consequences. Dipsomania is the name given to the latter, and it has been ascribed in different cases to (1) a weak mental heredity with family history of insanity, epilepsy, hemophilia, etc.; (2) the fact that father or mother was under the influence of alcohol at the time of conception; (3) long-continued vicious drinking, causing almost a necessity for alcohol in the system; (4) injuries to the head or sunstroke; (5) the use of alcohol when the system was in a weak state; (6) its use for the first time at one of the critical periods of life, as at puberty or the menopause.
Symptoms. – Mental symptoms. One symptom occurs only in the dipsomaniac form of alcoholism, which is that though the person is perfectly aware that his habit is shortening his life, blunting his finer feelings and impulses, and even leading him to ruin and crime, and though he struggles sincerely and vehemently against it, the craving repeatedly overpowers him. This may occur constantly, or the victim may have long intervals with no desire for drink, till at definite periods the craving comes, either with some warning of headache and malaise, or absolutely suddenly, and dipsomaniac rushes, as if possessed, to the nearest bar or saloon to pour alcohol down his throat. All feeling, all morality for the time being perishes, and no crime is too heinous to stand between the slave and his master. Among chronic drinkers the first symptoms are mental. There may be no drunkenness; in fact, the most vicious alcoholics are those who are constantly having “drams” or “nips” and “cocktails” the whole day and every day, with seldom a real “bout” or “spree”. The drinker becomes lazy, dyspeptic, untrustworthy, forgetful. Later he grows tremulous, suspicious, bad-tempered, and develops a special dislike for those who were before nearest and dearest, and, as the case advances still farther, develops fixed delusions that his friends are attempting to rob, poison, or otherwise injure him. Most of the revolting murders of wife and children, followed by suicide, are committed by chronic drinkers who are passing into delirium tremens. Or, if the mental balance be more stable, the result is a gradual loss of all intellectual power, till the tippler, between forty and fifty, becomes weak, silly, and demented, entering on his dotage soon after fifty.
Treatment.-The first thing to do is to give up alcohol entirely. For the person with a dipsomaniac craving or vital organs damaged by excess there is no question of moderate drinking. The treatment of symptoms such as vomiting, dyspepsia, paralysis, is given under these heads. All sorts of drink-cures are advertised and sold; some contain drugs, such as bromides and caffeine, which tide the drinker over the depression caused by an attempt to shake off his habit; others, such as hypnotism, Christian science, religious revivals, active crusades against drunkenness in others, rouse up in unstable persons dormant powers of resistance; but, though a few veritable cures take place when the habit is once broken, in general, relapses occur, and if drugs be injudiciously given more pernicious drug-habits may be learned in addition. The idea that some drug may be given without the drunkard’s knowledge, to cure him, is unlikely.
As a substitute for alcohol, the following may be taken:
Rx Caffeine Citrate …….. one-grain capsules
DOSE: One capsule every three hours during the day. The capsules are to be stopped each night, two hours before retiring.
Doesn’t that sound like a great substitute for alcohol?