The Chatsworth Train Disaster- August 10, 1887

Because the summer of 1887 was hot and dry, the company owning the Toledo, Peoria and Western Railroad, fearing sparks from the wheels could ignite a fire, conducted a controlled burn along the tracks in grassy eastern Illinois. Late at night on August 10, a train en route to Niagara Falls from Peoria crashed near the town of Chatsworth when the bridge it was crossing collapsed. An investigation determined that the bridge had been weakened by fire from the controlled burn. Between 81 and 85 died in the wreck.



The Bridge was Burned at Chatsworth – T. P. Westendorf

From city, town and hamlet there came a happy throng
To view the great Niagara, with joy they sped along.
The maiden and her lover, the husband and the wife,
The merry prattling children so full of joyous life.

With hand upon the lever and eye upon the track
The engineer is standing while shades of night are black
They pass the town of Chatsworth, & rush into the gloom.
Ah! could some power have stopped them-
e’re they had reached their doom

For oh, how much of sorrow, and oh, how much of pain
Awaited those who journeyed on that fatal railway train.

For see! the smoldering embers That lie along the ridge,
Ah God, in pity save them, It is the railway bridge.
Too late to turn the lever, Too late to stop the train,
Too late to soothe the sorrow Too late to ease the pain.

A mighty crash of timbers, a sound of hissing steam;
The groans and cries of anguish, A woman's stifled scream.
The dead and dying mingled with broken beams and bars
An awful human carnage, A dreadful wreck of cars.

And oh, how much of sorrow, and oh, how much of pain
Awaited those who journeyed on that fatal railway train.

All honor to the heroes who flame and fury fought
All thro’ that night of horror, A glory dearly bought.
As over land and water, This thrilling message crossed:
The bridge was burned at Chatsworth. A hundred lives are lost

Recording Info:
Jon Waterman- Vocal and Guitar
Jackie Damsky- Violin
Kirsten Manville- Backing Vocal
Chris Paglia- Bass
Jeff Pearlstein- Drums

For a lot more on the Chatsworth Railroad Disaster visit the page about the wreck on Mary Runyon-Hanshew's website Chatsworth Illinois Memories. The site also has a lot of interesting information on the town of Chatsworth, poetry and photos.

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