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Almost Yesterday is a glimpse into the rich history of our region. Dr. Frank Nickell takes listeners on a journey to specific moments in time, such as the first radio broadcast on KFVS, the history of Farmington’s Carleton College, and the short-lived safari on a Mississippi River island. A gifted storyteller and local historian, Dr. Nickell’s wit and love for the past are combined with sounds and music that augment his narrative.On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Almost Yesterday received First Place in the "Special Programs" category at the Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards Banquet in Kansas City, Missouri.Almost Yesterday airs every Wednesday at 5:42 and 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Almost Yesterday: The Sulfur Springs Train Wreck of 1922


It seems like almost yesterday that the worst train wreck in Missouri history occurred.  The date was August 5, 1922, and the location was on a bridge over Glaize Creek, beside the Mississippi river, between Herculaneum and Kimmswick.  

At this location a fast moving steel passenger train from Texas, train number 4, crashed into the rear of a local passenger train of wooden cars, coming into St. Louis from Hoxie, Arkansas, train number 32, with 190 passengers, including a large contingent of boy scouts returning from a week at camp. The local train had stopped at Sulphur Springs to take on water.

Train number 4 had recently pulled on to a siding to let a southbound train pass, and then pulled back on to the main line and as it did so, the engineer missed the signals regarding the presence of train number 32 stopped in front of him at Sulphur Springs. The result was a terrific collision reportedly heard three miles from the point of impact.

A number of the passenger cars rolled down a fifty foot embankment and into Glaize Creek. Tragically, 34 individuals died in the accident and 150 were seriously injured, making this the worst train wreck in Missouri history.

As in all disasters there are many personal tragedies. This incident included the deaths of five members of one St. Louis family, the loss of an Indiana mother and her two young children, and the death of 19 year old John Crafton of Oran, Missouri. Private Crafton had recently completed basic training, returned home on a furlough and was heading to his first military assignment when he was killed.

Seems as if they were almost yesterday…

Frank Nickell is a retired history professor at Southeast Missouri State University.
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