Betty Meyers Collection

Betty and Ron Meyers donated this panorama shot which shows the aftermath of the Granite Train Wreck which occurred September 7, 1926. Betty’s father was an engineer for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad and was not working on this train when the wreck occurred.

The History of the Granite Train Wreck:

30 people died and 54 people were injured when Passenger Train #2 went off the tracks about 2 miles northwest of Granite. The wreck was spread along the tracks in zig-zag fashion and most of the dead were found in car #3. A commissioner’s report later determined that car #3 was at one point standing perpendicularly in the air before coming to a rest on its side in the Arkansas River.

Four Denver & Rio Grande engineers (two were traveling as passengers) died that day. Engineer Harpending rallied for close to an hour but succumbed to internal scalding injuries from breathing in the vapors. The Salida Mail reported that ‘the steam created [from the engine] when the firebox landed in the river was like a cauldron.’

People who rushed in to help the injured reported seeing bodies floating down the river. The dead were placed alongside the railroad tracks until a relief train arrived.

This is May Bruggemeyer’s eyewitness account:

‘The car we were riding in started to shake from side to side and was bouncing up and down, over the ties. Just then a thousand thoughts came to my mind, the first one was to pray to God for then I realized our predicament … Then everything went upside down, and over and over. The darkness came and I was dazzled, and my head was down one minute and then another crash, then all was quiet. My head was in the water and I was trying to gather myself together, and straighten up, as I was standing on my head. I wanted to be of help to someone and could see nothing but water, and told the people we would all be drowned.’

It was determined that Passenger Train No. 2 was traveling at an excessive speed of nearly 45 mph as it entered the curves of the Granite canon.