Trolley Car Collision of 1905

On August 21, 1905 the Butte Miner reported, “loaded with passengers, many of them women and girls, street car No. 2, returning from the Columbia Gardens at 11:10 in the evening, was struck by the end of a freight train on the railroad tracks north of Butte, Anaconda & Butte Depot, and crushed beneath the weight of one freight car, killing ten people. The tragedy was one of the most horrific in the history of Butte, and the most serious ever experienced by the railway company.” Adolph Heilbronner was seated on the rear seats of the trolley car, and stated that just before the collision he heard shrieks coming from the front of the car, and on turning around saw the approaching freight train. He jumped just narrowly escaping injury. Heilbronner rushed to the nearest telephone, called every ambulance and medical assistance from hospitals. The fire and police departments rushed to the scene and the clanging of gongs helped to create a scene of wild disorder in Uptown Butte. Within minutes from the time the alar
m was sent in, hundreds of willing hands were at work to DSCN3902.JPGrescue the injured. Witness accounts varied greatly, some saying the street car did not come to a full stop before crossing the railroad tracks; others saying the freight train did not ring its bells before crossing the intersection. In the end the jurors decided that the street car did not come to a stop before crossing the tracks and the BA&P Railway did not have the appropriate gates in place, and must substitute flagmen at railway crossings with automatic electric alarm gongs.

-Aubrey

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