Train Wreck

Published by Saint Vincent Archabbey Public Relations on

Wimmer Wednesday. Recently I went to Kansas on a visitation and came near to arriving either injured or dead. Twenty-nine miles from Steubenville all coaches without exception leapt over a 65 foot embankment. The baggage cars went into a thousand pieces. The sleeping coaches were burnt. Our coach, the next to the last, was burning also, but the fire was extinguished, and–wonderful to say!–only one man had a broken arm and two others received less serious injuries. All the others escaped with minor wounds. At first, I felt nothing at all, but afterwards (and now) it feels as if I slammed my forehead quite hard against something. My left hip and shoulder are also affected. Brother Franz, who was with me, also received minor injuries to his feet and back. Because the cliff was not only very high but also very steep, we all fell head over heels on top of each other, i.e., we were in a heap from the floor to the ceiling. Yet the coach did not turn over twice. That is, it did not roll. Otherwise, it would have broken, and then many would have been seriously injured or even killed.
This happened about 7:30 pm, after we had our supper in Cadis Junction. There I heard from the innkeeper that the morning train had left the track several miles back from the junction. All the passengers received minor injuries. As we returned to the coach, I related this to the brother and thanked God that our train had arrived about seven hours late in Latrobe, or we would have been on the morning train. Then I began to pray in silence and to place us under the protection of the holy guardian angels when suddenly it went bump! bump! bump! and we, too, tumbled down into the deep ravine. The angels surely helped. Otherwise, you would perhaps not have seen me again.
After we had removed the two over-turned stoves and extinguished the flames at either end of the coach, we extricated ourselves and climbed the high and steep embankment in the hard frozen snow. Only when we looked down into the ravine and saw the wrecked coaches did we realize the danger we had escaped.
—Boniface Wimmer, Letters of An American Abbot, February 7, 1863.