Downers Grove train wreck

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Downers Grove train wreck
Date 3 April 1947
Time 22:41 CST
Location Downers Grove, Illinois
Coordinates 41°47′44″N 88°00′32″W / 41.79556°N 88.00889°W / 41.79556; -88.00889Coordinates: 41°47′44″N 88°00′32″W / 41.79556°N 88.00889°W / 41.79556; -88.00889
Country United States
Rail line MinneapolisChicago
Operator Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
Type of incident Derailment
Cause Obstruction on line
Deaths 3
Injuries 30+

The Downers Grove train wreck happened on April 3, 1947 at the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad station in Downers Grove, Illinois. The Twin Cities Zephyr had left Minneapolis at 5:10 PM pulling seven coaches which carried many college students and others traveling for the coming Easter weekend and was due at Chicago's Union Station at midnight. At 10:41PM, traveling about 70 MPH through the Downers Grove depot, it struck a heavy caterpillar tractor which had fallen from a freight train only seconds before. The locomotive went airborne then landed on its side, upon which it skidded and caught fire while the coach cars broke free. The first two of these jack-knifed into an empty waiting room of the brick masonry station building, which had been closed early for the night. All three sets of track running through the depot were torn up. At least three people died in the aftermath (the train's engineer among them) and more than 30 were injured. The local fire department, police and townspeople (along with a boy scout troop) quickly began giving aid. Police from many nearby towns also came to help, along with state police. After being given first aid at a doctor's office across from the station or in the lobby of the Tivoli Movie Theatre, most of the injured were taken to the Hinsdale Sanitarium and Hospital about five miles east of the accident.

On May 8, 1947 a DuPage County Coroner’s jury found that International Harvester (the shipper) and the Burlington were negligent in loading and inspecting the tractor.[1][2][3][4] [5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^, Zephyr Wreck of 1947 (gathered newspaper articles, mostly from the Downers Grove Reporter in April 1947, along with photos and recollections), retrieved 16 September 2010
  2. ^ The Marion Star (Marion OH), Downers Grove, Il train derails & crashes into depot, 6 April 1947, retrieved 16 September 2010
  3. ^ Dunham, Montrew; Wandschneider, Pauline (1982). Downers Grove 1832 to 1982. Heritage Festival Task Force of Downers Grove. p. 153-154. ISBN 0-9608670-0-7. 
  4. ^ Dunham, Montrew (2003). Downers Grove Revisited. Arcadia. p. 46, 56. ISBN 0-7385-3195-2. 
  5. ^ "Photos Bare Clew to Cause of Zephyr Wreck:". Chicago Tribune (ProQuest Historical Newspapers). 5 Apr 1947. 
  6. ^ "JURORS BLAME ZEPHYR WRECK ON NEGLIGENCE". Chicago Tribune (ProQuest Historical Newspapers). 9 May 1947.