Ash Grove, June 3, 1947

The worst accidents on the Monon took place at Ash Grove on the morning of June 3, 1947.

At the stroke of 3:00 a.m., on a clear dark morning of June 3, 1947, Monon Train #70 stood ready to depart Shop Yard in Lafayette, bound for South Hammond. F-3s 64A and 64B were coupled to 53 cars and a caboose. In the hands of the train's crew was order 207, which read "No 75 Eng 62 meet no. 70 Eng 64 at Ash Grove." Train 70 eased out of the Shops at 3:10 a.m., crossing the Wabash River, climbing towards Ash Grove, 7.7 miles distant, bound for its meet with Train 75 and history.

Twelve minutes after departing Lafayette, Train 70 neared Ash Grove rounding a one-degree curve, ascending a .76% grade, rolling at 40 mph, its crew confident that Train 75 would be in the clear on the Ash Grove siding, honoring the CI&L timetable instructions which read, "All northbound trains are superior to trains in the same class in opposite direction."

But, instead, Train 70 and its crew rounded the curve to witness the glare of a headlight and to plunge head on into Train 75 which had overrun Ash Grove siding and was sliding downgrade at 35 mph.

  

Left and Right, Above and Below: Some pictures of the aftermath of the Ash Grove wreck.

  

Additional photos

The tradgedy of 3:22 a.m. of June 3, 1947, left the engineer and fireman of northbound Train 70 dead. In the cab of F-3A 62B, power of Train 75 (along with F-3s 62C and 62A) the engineer was injured, the front brakeman was killed. The fireman of Train 75, in the second unit at the time survived. Diesels were twisted and lay askew amid 15 derailed freight cars, coal hoppers, that jackknifed and piled atop each other in the cut where the collision occurred. F-3 62B, the lead unit of Train 75, rested upside down at a 90 degree angle south of the main line. F-3A 64A, the operating unit of Train 70, was spun 180 degrees and sat crushed, half under a coal hopper. Both lead units along with F-3B 64C, were beyond repair and were later scrapped.

In the Interstate Commerce Commission investigation that followed, the engineer of Train 75 recalled that he had grown "drowsy"and was unaware that his train had passed three red semaphores and the Ash Grove siding. The ICC concluded, matter- of-factly, that the Ash Grove diaster, the worst accident of the Monon's postwar era, was caused by "failure of the inferior train to obey a meet order and signal indications."

ICC Accident Report

-Excerpts from Monon, The Hoosier Line, by Steve and Gary Dolzall-

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