Stratford Saunders and the Railway Accident

The Skidmore News of September 13, 1917 printed the following travelogue on page 1:

Harve, Mont., Sept. 5, 1917.

Editor Skidmore News. We are now at Harve and at our youngest boys’. But before telling you what has happened since going over the range, I want to tell you a few of the things I saw before we went over.

A few days before we left our children at Kalispell, our son-in-law, Mr. Greig, hitched up his car and took my wife and I, Susa, and his wife down to Summers, a town on the Flathead lake and took us around and showed us all the sights that were to be seen. We first saw the high school building where Miss Minnie Ott is going to teach this winter. It is a fine two-story building, and we saw where she is going to board, just across the street from the school building. She gets $95.00 a month. There is another young lady from Maryville that has gone over there to teach this winter in the same school. She had been employed to teach there but she resigned and came here.

We went from there down south of town on the lake shore to the sawmill and of all the sights we saw there; there were on the lake thousands of logs, just acres and acres of them. We went into the sawmill and these logs were drawn up a trough by an endless chain to where the saws were, two of them, and the logs were rolled onto the carrier by machinery, and two men rode on carrier back and forth and when it was slabbed on one side there was an upright thing there that jumped and flipped the log over and away it would go to the saw. The slabs would fall off on an endless chain and carried off a short distance and then another one running from another direction would carry the slab and dump it on another one and it would carry it to six or eight saws, and they would saw it into cord wood. Then we went through the planing mill.

We then went down to the fish hatchery, and there we saw thousands upon thousands of fish. Some of them were just hatched and some of them were larger, but all small, they had troughs, there were twenty or more, and a constant stream of clear water running through each one, and they fed the young fish in there. Here is where those who have ponds get their fish for them.

Well I will tell you what happened after we went over the range. We stopped awhile at a place by the name of Belton, to get our tickets validated and trunks rechecked, and the train would not wait for us and it would have not taken 5 minutes. I will explain it to you when I get home. Well we took the next train that came along and we went through Glacier park after night. The next morning about 5 o’clock as we were rolling into Harve all at once there was a tremendious shock that liked to have thrown us over the seat in front, the conductor jumped up and ran out, so we jumped up and looked out of the window, and there was an awful fire ahead of us. Our engine had ran into the rear end of a freight train, chushed through two cabooses and mashed them all to splinters, and killed one man that they know of, and seriously injured several others that had to be carried to the ambulance car and carried to the hospital. Our engine after running through both cabooses and striking an oil tank fell over on its side and the whole thing was burn up, that would burn, and one man was seen burning in the wreck. The men got out of the cars and went to the coaches and got them loose and run them back one or two at a time and saved them all. The two cabooses and three oil tanks were burnt up. There was a locomotive came up and pulled a lot of the freight cars out of the way and saved them, and then a construction train came up and lifted them onto the track. We were there for several hours, and would have been there longer but a man there who is acquainted with my sons came with his car and took us to their home.

With best wishes to all of my Skidmore friends I will close.

S. Saunders.

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