Italian/American Train Wreck Memorial
The deadly collision has become known as the “Wreck on the Wabash.” At approximately 6:45pm on Thanksgiving Eve, November 27, 1901 – the No. 4 & No. 13 trains collided head on between Seneca & Sand Creek – near Adrian, Michigan.
The No. 4 was eastbound to Detroit carrying passengers home for the holiday.
The No. 13 was westbound carrying a group of 75 to 100 recent Italian immigrants to the mines in Colorado & California for work and a new life.
When the trains collided,the No. 4 exploded on impact. Fortunately, many lives were saved from fire by a quick thinking engineer, Aaron T. Strong.
When the No. 13 was hit, the wooden cars shattered caught fire when an overhead kerosene lamp fell. The fire and debris blocked the escape and trapped people inside. With temperatures reaching over 2,000 degrees, those trapped were cremated instantly.
Local residents rushed to the aid of the victims, but could only watch in horror as the flames consumed the wreckage. The fire was so hot and large that it could easily be seen that evening for up to five miles away.
After the accident,the ashes and remains of the dead were collected into five caskets and buried.Their exact whereabouts were lost for decades. That was until the recent discovery of old cemetery records showing that the forgotten lay at rest in Oakwood Cemetery in Adrian in unmarked graves.
For decades, the dead were forgotten. Now is the time to remember them and this tragedy.
The following link is a Michigan Public Radio segment by Kyle Norris about this story.
115 year old train crash killed 100 Italian immigrants still stirs deep emotion
You can also go to: Italian/American Train Wreck Memorial where you can see Italian artist Sergio Di Giusti and the amazing sculpture he has created.