Colorado History: The Eden Train Wreck
At 8:00 p.m. on August 7, 1904, a train bound for St. Louis, Mo. out of Denver crossed a bridge in the pouring rain just south of Pueblo at a place called Dry Creek, near the town of Eden. As the engine crossed the bridge, a flash flood washed it out and swept the train into the fast-moving water.
In the early days of railroad travel, there were a set of rules the engineers had to follow. In a weather situation, as they had on that day, a thunderstorm caution had been issued and the train was moving at around 15 mph. As it approached the bridge, the engineer was cautious. But would his caution be enough?
Crossing The Bridge
The bridge the train had to cross was a standard wooden trestle bridge with the rails laid on top of it and secured. It was this bridge the engineer would have to cross safely if they were to make St.Louis on time, but as the train crossed the bridge, a large swell of water washed across the engine.
As the wave struck the train, it washed the cars into the fast-moving water and pulled the engine back into it. This action broke off the connection to the other cars and saved several lives. The Pullman car sitting at the edge of the missing tracks shows how close they all were to being pulled into the water. Of the 125 people who were on the train, 100 lost their lives. The engineer was thrown from the engine as it was whipped back into the water and was found some 200 feet from the wreckage.
Rescue and Recovery
The first rescue train arrived four hours after the accident. As the flood waters began to recede, they looked for survivors. The chair car was found almost a mile away, buried in the sand. The smoking and baggage cars were found four miles downstream from the accident and the body of one of the passengers was found twenty-two miles away. The scene of the wreckage by the light of day saw the train cars strewn about like toys, bodies all around and in general a sickening scene.
The bridge, however, had been rebuilt in 24 hours, and train traffic resumed. A simple sign marks the spot where the accident occurred.
To get to the location of the accident, go here:
N 38° 22.555 W 104° 37.145