Examples of When Trains Derailed in Montana
My heart goes out to the people of Ohio and to Minnesota, reading about what happened there shows me what a terror these train derailments can be. I'm writing this because these disasters have brought the subject to mind, so I was curious about when it's happened in my state. Here's examples of when trains were derailed in Montana:
1971 - North of Great Falls
No one particular factor was fully to blame in the collision of two freight trains which killed 4 people and seriously injured two others according to this article from the Great Falls Tribune, rather it was "a series of small mistakes and coincidences that added up to a catastrophe." According to their article the two trains could have been going anywhere from 35 mph to 50 mph when the collided, which explains the devastating consequences.
1981 - "Northern Montana"
I am interested in the idea of having more passenger rails here in Montana, but it's true they don't have a spotless record in the Treasure State. This New York Times article doesn't say the exact location of the crash which injured 19 people, but it had to be somewhere around Kalispell and Whitefish because passengers were taken to hospitals in those cities.
1989 - Helena
Thank goodness no one died as a result of this crash, but it was still a horrible situation. According to Wikipedia the train crew failed to set the brakes properly which caused $6 million in damages and "led to the evacuation of residents within an area of 2 square miles (5.2 km2) due to concerns of possible toxic chemical release." Oh, and this happened on February 2nd, so it was cold. "Temperatures below −30 °F (−34 °C) that morning and with a wind chill factor of as much as −75 °F (−59 °C), which froze the water that firefighters used to attempt to extinguish the fire" so that must have been challenging.
1996 - Alberton
Train derailments are awful to begin with but when they're carrying dangerous chemicals, in this case, chlorine, it's on another level. According to Wikipedia 350 people were injured and 1000 people were evacuated from Alberton and Frenchtown. I can at least take some comfort in knowing that the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and Montana Disaster and Emergency Services made the effort to learn from this situation according to this article from Montana Right Now.
2021 - Joplin
Proof that derailments still happen here, this one tragically killed 3 people and injured 50, 7 of which were hospitalized according to Wikipedia. As for a cause, a bent track was a factor according to the Associated Press.
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