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The Great Circus Train Wreck of 1918: Tragedy on the Indiana Lakeshore
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What really happened on the circus train in 1918? Read the story of this tragedy for the entertainment industry of the time.
In the cool, pre-dawn hours on a June night in 1918, a train engineer closed his cab window as he chugged toward Hammond, Indiana. He drifted to sleep, and his train bore down on the idle Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus Train. Soon after, the sleeping engineer's locomotive plowed into the circus train. In the subsequent wreckage and blaze, more than two hundred circus performers were injured and eighty-six were killed, most of whom were interred in a mass grave in the Showmen's Rest section of Chicago's Woodlawn Cemetery. Join local historian Richard Lytle as he recounts, in the fullest retelling to date, the details of this tragedy and its role in the overall evolution and demise of a unique entertainment industry.
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Historic Disasters in Southeast Minnesota
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Southeast Minnesota has regularly felt the wrath of nature.
In 1890, a driving straight-line wind on Lake Pepin overturned the Sea Wing, killing ninety-eight people within minutes in the worst marine tragedy in Minnesota history. In 1940, a raging blizzard trapped duck hunters on islands in the Mississippi River and left motorists stranded across the region, leaving dozens injured or dead. Then, in 1965, flood waters of the Mississippi River and its vast network of tributaries kept area residents in fear for two months, shattering records for high water marks and destroying buildings and farmlands before receding and leaving behind damage that took years to rebuild.
Local author Steve Gardiner examines these powerful natural disasters and their ramifications on the people of Southeast Minnesota.