While we worry these days about terrorist airplane hijackers, our grandparents also had their worries when they traveled. At the turn of the previous century some strange and twisted folks apparently derived some perverse pleasure from wrecking trains as they passed along the rails.
In 1899 near Toledo, on the night of November 9th, the people on board Train number 310 enroute from Toledo to Detroit had no idea they were about to thrown into chaos and danger. A group of “train wreckers” had loosened and widened the rails along the route near Vienna, Michigan, south of Detroit, sending the locomotive and train cars tumbling off the tracks. Three people were killed in the accident as passenger cars rolled over and people were sent flying. Many others were injured including Maxine Faneuff of Walbridge who suffered a dislocated shoulder. Investigators later found loosened nuts on the tracks and large wrenches, indicating that someone had deliberately loosened the track with the intention of derailing the train. The news reports from the New York Times stated that a special hospital train arrived from Detroit, and another from Toledo to handle the injured.
Not much is written about “train wreckers”, but they were a real concern about a hundred years ago. What motivated these deadly vandals to engage in such cowardly deeds? Some believe it was an attenpt to loot the train, while in some cases, they might have been hired by railroad competitors to deal out some competitive terror. It is also reported that the wreckers may have been compelled by sheer insanity, or “lunacy” as it was stated in those days.