Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

June 10, 1993, Page 28

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 

 

 

Good Old Days  

  

By Dee Zimmerman

 

Merrillan, Wisconsin was a hub of the railroad train routes, where people of this area went to board the passenger trains to St. Paul-Minneapolis and points west or Chicago-Milwaukee to the east.

 

Through the years, many railroad cars have clickety-clacked over the rail line that passes through Merrillan; passenger and freight trains.

 

After years of countless rail cars traveling over the Merrillan line, a derailment occurred when the 60 foot railroad bridge over Hallís Creek collapsed in June of 1964.  A three engine 111 car, Green Bay and Western freight train lost nine loaded cars, immediately following the three engines. (Transcriberís note:  This train wreck actually took place in May of 1968)

 

The freight train had left Winona, Minnesota and was en-route to Wisconsin Rapids.  The railroad bridge was located on the northwest wedge (edge) of Merrillan.  The nine cars fell into the creek in a pile like jackstraws.

 

The engineer and others in the engines escaped injury when all the engines left the track due to the jolt created when the nine cars separated and fell 30 feet into the creek.

 

Shortly after 12:35 p.m., on that day, railroad cars were still passing the railroad depot when the crashing noise of the bridge could be heard a quarter of a mile away.  The Merrillan depot agent, Clint Burghardt, heard the airline snap and cars still rattling by the station when the derailing happened.

 

There was a ripping and crunching of steel plates, as one after another, the cars toppled into the chasm and onto a heap, until the brakes automatically set and the loaded cars behind were brought to a standstill.

 

Several rods of track on the east side of the bridge were torn up.  A portion of the C&NW railroad tracks were blocked temporarily until a path could be cleared.

 

With the bridge down, the Green Bay and Western was re-routed through Neillsville on the Omaha branch of Chicago and Northwestern running from Marshfield to Merrillan.

 

News of the accident traveled quickly and attracted many curious people from all parts of the area.  The onlookers resembled the atmosphere of a festival as they trekked their way over the wreckage site viewing strewn tracks and a collapsed bridge.

 

There was no indication of why the bridge collapsed.  It was fortunate that none (of) the crewman were injured, all but one were from Wisconsin Rapids.

 

The railroad cars stacked as jackstraws in the Hallís Creek bed on Merrillanís northeast side, when the Hallís Creek Bridge collapsed in June of 1964.  (Merrillan photos courtesy of Bill Joyce, Loyal)

 

One of the rail cars that de-railed and tipped on its side at the Hallís Creek bridge approach.

 

A slab of lumber fell from a freight car, onto the track, creating the derailment of a train on the Soo Line Bridge crossing the Black River west of Withee in 1912.  Not only did it derail the train, but also caused the collapse of the bridge.

 

The old trestle at Owen:  This trestle carried the Owen log trains over the Soo Line tracks.  It was erected to avoid a crossing at grade.  The trestle was constructed in the early years of the railroad, before the 1900ís.  The engine on the trestle was property of the Owen Lumbering Company, which had a large operation at that time.

 

Photos of the 1968 Merrillan, Jackson County Train Wreck.

 

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Compiled by Lori Liddell

 

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO

 

Downtown Area Parking Lot is voted on by Council:

 

A large, centrally located off-street parking area in the heart of Neillsville downtown shopping district has been provided for completion in the next year by action of the Neillsville City Council.

 

The city this week was completing arrangements for the purchase of two pieces of property on West Fifth St. and west of the former Penney and McCain building from Charles Anderson and John E. Schiesel.  The properties presently house the Anderson Dairy Bar and bus stop, and the Neillsville Maytag Company. 

 

FIFTY YEARS AGO

 

Business is Good under Rationing!

 

Rationing and business are beginning to get on together in Neillsville.  Business is good, much better than was anticipated by most business persons when rationing made its first appearance.  I unit sales in some lines are down dollar sales are normal or better.  And sales are easier much easier, because there is money and because goods are in higher esteem than in days of abundant supply.

 

Rationing has stimulated demand, especially in canned goods.

 

SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO

 

Warning! The government has ordered all copies of the ďFinished MysteryĒ to be confiscated.  This book was sold recently by a traveling agent, and after investigation it has been found that this book contains statements derogatory to our government that it published with funds provided by disloyal people.  Anyone selling or circulating this book is liable to a heavy penalty and the Clark Co. Council of Defense advises everyone in possession of this book to send it to the chairman or secretary of the Council so as to avoid any trouble that may be caused from the possession of such a book.

 

ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO

 

Knocking for Admission:

 

The people living north of the river near the Grand Avenue bridge have organized and petitioned for admission to our city school district.  They have about 25 children of school age, and at present are compelled to send then off to the Mound School, a long distance through the country.  Or enter them at our own first ward school and pay the non-resident scholarship fee, thus assuming a double tax burden.

 

It is reported that fifty families of Swedes are to locate farms in the Town of Hewett this year and become permanent settlers.

 

A young man named Daniels jumped off a train as it crossed Hewett Street and was badly shaken up and rolled about.  He was carried into Huntzickersí Hotel by an excited crowd, but got up and walked away after a few minutes.  No bones, blood vessels or fiddle strings were broken, busted or bruised.

 

 


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