Way Back When, Feb. 17, 2014
Everybody loves a good train wreck but nobody wants to be in one.
Such was the case with the head-on collision between two trains on Saturday, Nov. 19, 1902, at exactly 5:03 p.m.
This photo was taken after the wrecked Colorado Midland Railway train was pulled into the yard at Rifle.
According to the newspaper articles of the day, the fatal wreck took place a half-mile east of Rifle at one of the worst points on the track with a high cliff on the one side and the Colorado River (then the Grand) on the other.
A Grand Junction dispatcher was to blame for the collision involving the Midland doubleheader train, pulled by engines No. 22 and No. 31 in the lead.
The train was carrying 20 cars of cattle. The Rio Grand freight train, heading west, was pulled by engine No. 532.
Both trains were nearly upon each other when the engineers realized the situation.
They immediately jerked the reverse levers and prepared for the worst.
They didn’t have time to jump from the cabs and if they had, they knew they would be pulled under the tracks and killed.
Asa Thorpe, a newly hired fireman on engine No. 31, was the only man to lose his life, although others were seriously injured. Mr. Thorpe was literally cut in half. He left behind a new bride of six weeks in Leadville.
Forty head of cattle were killed and several others injured that had to be put out of their misery. Some escaped. With all their bellowing and running around, it added to the chaos.
The trains were traveling about 20 mph and hit with such a force that the two engines telescoped each other up to their piston heads and could not be separated.
Engine No. 22 jumped completely on top of the tender of engine No. 31 and that is what you see in the photograph.
I found the newspaper article on the Colorado Historical Newspapers site.
If you want to read the more dramatic and grisly details of the wreck, visit coloradohistoricnewspapers.org.
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THE GRAND VALLEY’S 4-DAY OUTLOOK
NATIONAL FORECAST AND TEMPERATURES
WATER LEVELS AND FLOWS
Here’s what’s in store today
High 51, Low 29
High 63 record at 3:46 p.m.
Low 34 at 5:24 a.m.
Average high 46
Average low 24
Record high 61 in 1907
Record low -9 in 1903
High this date last year 46
Low this date last year 21
For the period ending at 5 p.m. 0.00 in.
Total this month 0.55 in.
Average month to date 0.29 in.
Total for year 1.22 in.
Average year to date 0.87 in.
High 89% at 2 a.m.
Low 27% at 4 p.m.
High 50, Low 27, sunny
High 46, Low 25, sunny
High 38, Low 23, sunny
High 42, Low 21, sunny
High 55, Low 34, sunny
High 58, Low 30, partly cloudy
As lawmakers near the middle of the 2014 session, activity will slow a bit this week. Still, there will be a few contentious topics they are expected to deal with.
■ Today: The House Education Committee will hear a bill by Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, that would allow the State Board of Education to waive school testing in some districts.
■ Tuesday: The House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee will consider a GOP bill to do away with the state’s health benefit exchange, the state’s part of the federal Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act.
■ Wednesday: The Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee will hear a bill to name the Claret Cup, or Kingcup, as the state’s official cactus.
■ Thursday: The House Judiciary Committee will consider a bill by Rep. Jared Wright, R-Fruita, to change laws dealing with bonding agents.
■ Next week: The Senate will hear a bill that tries to protect Colorado residents whose arrest photos are published online but were never charged or were found not guilty. Meanwhile, a House committee will look at a bill calling for an audit of the state’s health care exchange.
Watch or listen to floor action and committees at http://www.leg.state.co.us.
High 50, Low 31
High 43, Low 23
High 57, Low 24
High 43, Low 20
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