COBWEB CORNERS: The miraculous train wreck of 1903
By Mel McFarland
Back in 1903 there was a great train wreck in Colorado City. Here is a bit of the tale, as taken from the Gazette-Telegraph:.
"A miraculous railroad wreck occurred this morning on the Colorado Midland when freight train No.42 due in Colorado Springs at 11:45 a.m. collided with a switch engine after a dash down six miles of 4 per cent grade through Ute pass. Two engines, sixteen cars and one caboose are piled at the Sixth street [now 26th Street] crossing in Colorado City and there is not a piece of timber in the entire mass more than half the size or an ordinary stick of cord wood.
"By nothing short of a miracle no lives were lost. The runaway train passed through eight tunnels and rounded all the curves on what is generally regarded as the most treacherous six miles of railroad in Colorado. Engineer Frank Watts and Fireman James Brandenburg saved themselves by jumping. They say the air brakes failed to work, causing the accident.
"Trains from the east on the Colorado Midland were delayed several hours yesterday by a wreck at Colorado City. The wreck was the result of a runaway on the steep grade leading up to Ute Pass. A freight train got away and went madly careening down the steep grade, colliding with a switch engine. Both engines and a number of cars were derailed and the track torn up for a considerable distance. The trains were delayed four hours by the accident. A peculiar feature of the wreck on the Colorado Midland revealed when one of the large box cars was turned back to an upright position. There, with one end firmly embedded in the ground stood one of the railroad company's signals bearing the legend, "Look Out For Cars."
The warning signal had become embedded in the earth at a point where the tracks cross Sixth (26th) street, and could have been seen before, had it not been for the mass of wreckage which covered it. The debris took several days work before the crossing was cleared.