Trisha Shetty (Editor)

1894 Rock Island railroad wreck

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Date  9 August 1894
Country  United States
Time  21:20
Cause  Sabotage
1894 Rock Island railroad wreck
Location  Wilderness Park, Lincoln, Nebraska
Rail line  Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad

The 1894 Rock Island railroad wreck occurred when a locomotive carrying two passenger cars was sabotaged on August 9, 1894, in Lincoln, Nebraska. The train was purposely derailed from a 40-foot trestle which today passes above the Jamaica North Trail at Wilderness Park in Lincoln, Nebraska, killing 11. To date, the sabotage is one of the largest instances of mass murder in the state of Nebraska, along with the 1958 killing spree of Charles Starkweather, and the Westroads Mall shooting of 2007. It is also the largest officially unsolved crime in Lincoln history.



Locomotive 213 departed with two passenger railcars from Fairbury, Nebraska, at 7:30pm on 9 August 1894, due to reach Lincoln two hours later. At approximately 9:20, the train careened 40 feet off a 400-foot-long trestle which was then southwest of town. The engine burst, spilling hot coals everywhere, and soon the whole train was aflame. Eleven of 33 passengers died.

The crash was determined to be an act of sabotage. There were pulled spikes present, as well as wrench marks in the rail, and gouges in the ties made by a crowbar. A 40-pound crowbar was located near the scene. Within two days, police arrested George Washington Davis, who some survivors claimed to have seen holding a lantern at the accident site.

In 1895, Davis, an African-American, was convicted of second-degree murder after two jury trials. During the first trial, first-degree murder could not be proven. Davis never confessed to any wrongdoing, and had a strong bed of supporters who believed he was wrongfully convicted. He was paroled ten years later, with then-Governor John Mickey citing a lack of evidence or motive, and "grave doubts" as to Davis' involvement.

Historical marker

In 2010, on the 116th anniversary of the wreck, a historical marker was dedicated along Jamaica North trail, at the site of the crash.


1894 Rock Island railroad wreck Wikipedia

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