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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 20, 2019)
2A ❚ WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2019 ❚ APPEAL TRIBUNE
Leaf drop Nov. 23 and Dec. 14
SILVERTON – Got leaves? Drop
them oﬀ at free events for city resi-
dents on two upcoming Saturdays.
Residents can bring their leaves to
Silverton’s City Shops Nov. 23 and
Dec. 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until
the bins are full. Participants should
bring bagged leaves only. No other
materials or commercial leaf debris
will be accepted. Leaves must be
dumped into bins and bags must be
The City Shops are located at 830
Shop Hop passports now
A Silverton tradition created to
boost local holiday shopping begins
Shoppers who visit 32 (or more) of
40 businesses participating in the
Silverton-Mt. Angel Shop Hop can
be entered into a drawing for a grand
prize of $1,000 in gift certiﬁcates.
Forty winners will also earn $25 gift
To enter, shoppers should pick up
a Shop Hop passport at Silverton
Chamber of Commerce or any par-
ticipating business and get it
stamped while shopping. No pur-
chases are necessary, although
spending money along the way does
generate additional prize drawing
This is Shop Hop’s 17th year in Sil-
verton, and the second year Mt. An-
gel businesses have joined. The
event runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 17.
Brewery hosts trivia Mondays
Address: P.O. Box 13009, Salem, OR 97309
Web site: www.SilvertonAppeal.com
‘Ignite Delight’ showing at art
This month at Lunaria Gallery,
Lori Rodrigues’ watercolor and
acrylic paintings and Susan Brandt’s
books and boxes are on display. The
theme is “Ignite Delight.” Located at
113 N. Water St., the art gallery is
open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
News: 4 p.m. Thursday
Letters: 4 p.m. Thursday
Obituaries: 11 a.m. Friday
Display Advertising: 4 p.m. Wednesday
Legals: 3 p.m. Wednesday
Classifieds: 4 p.m. Friday
The Appeal Tribune encourages suggestions
for local stories. Email the newsroom, submit
letters to the editor and send announcements
or call 503-399-6773.
The low-lying area north of Salem
was never a massive lake.
Survey notes from the state oﬃce of
the Bureau of Land Management de-
scribed Lake Labish in 1851 as a few feet
deep during the wettest season and
nothing but a swamp the rest of the
Still, when the railroad came to town,
a trestle more than 2,500 feet long was
If you look across Interstate 5 from
Keizer Station or Volcanoes Stadium,
you can see a short railroad bridge on
the east side of the freeway. That’s
about where the crash happened, run-
ning across virtually the same stretch
trains do today parallel to I-5.
Drainage work was completed at
Lake Labish in the early 1900s to create
more farmland, but for decades the bog-
Main Statesman Journal publication
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around the world, were shaken but not
The family with six children headed
to California had a host of head, chest,
back, foot and hand injuries. But they
The U.S. marshal from Utah, on his
way to meet with the Oregon secretary
of state, suﬀered a broken leg, broken
nose and internal injuries.
Railroad oﬃcials showed up at the
hotel within just a couple of days and
began oﬀering settlements to injured
Some accepted, but others eventual-
ly ﬁled lawsuits.
Continued from Page 1A
The legend of Lake Labish
Hours: until 7 p.m. Wednesdays;
until 3 p.m. other weekdays
$21 per year for home delivery
$22 per year for motor delivery
$30.10 per year mail delivery in Oregon
$38.13 per year mail delivery outside Oregon
due to arrive at 8:18 p.m. on Nov. 12,
The train was crowded, some pas-
sengers traveling on business, others for
pleasure. Among them were a U.S. mar-
shal, a frontier celebrity, a doctor and
his wife just back from a trip around the
world, and a couple with their six chil-
dren headed for California.
All their travels suddenly came to a
screeching halt in what the headline la-
beled “The Lake Labish Horror.”
The eight-car train plunged through
an expansive wooden trestle over a
swampy area locals know as Lake Lab-
ish. The engine and tender, followed by
the mail car, careened oﬀ the tracks and
fell 15 to 20 feet. The express and bag-
gage cars were ﬂung at right angles
across the tracks.
The bents supporting the trestle
tumbled like dominoes and the rest of
the train — two day coaches, two sleep-
ers and one tourist — dropped with the
The coaches were described in news-
papers as “blood-stained” and one of
the sleepers as “broken in two.” Mirac-
ulously, though, none of the passenger
cars were overturned.
Three people died instantly — the en-
gineer, the ﬁreman and an unknown
man believed to be a hobo hopping a
Virtually every passenger was in-
jured, many seriously.
News didn’t reach town for nearly an
hour. There were no radios or automo-
biles in those days. Doctors didn’t arrive
for nearly three hours.
A student from Chemawa Indian
School, less than a mile from the crash,
reportedly was the ﬁrst to arrive in town
on horseback, announcing 100 people
had been killed.
Tales of inaccuracy were rampant in
the days that followed.
Rumors of railroad track sabotage
circulated throughout the investigation.
Even today, farmers in the area talk
about the “lost” locomotive.
Silver Falls Brewery has begun
hosting free trivia nights for interest-
ed patrons every Monday at 7 p.m.
Geeks Who Drink Trivia features
ﬁrst-place and second-place prizes,
music and drinks. The brewery is lo-
cated at 207 Jersey St.
Classifieds: call 503-399-6789
Retail: call 503-399-6602
Legal: call 503-399-6789
Posing at the scene
A Southern Paciﬁc passenger train plunged through a dilapidated trestle at Lake
Labish on Nov. 12, 1890. COURTESY OF THE ED AUSTIN COLLECTION
like soil propagated tales of everything
from fence posts to farm implements
sinking out of sight — even a certain lo-
Newspapers described the engine as
being upside down and half-buried in
mud after the crash. Perhaps that’s
where the legend began.
broached the subject when asked about
access to the existing trestle and earth-
en ﬁll for this story.
“Is that the locomotive that’s buried
out there?” one said.
And then the other: “They say it’s in
Crashes frequent across Oregon
Traveling by train was dangerous in
the late 1800s. Only 20 years had passed
since the arrival of passenger service in
Salem, and the Oregon & California and
Southern Paciﬁc didn’t meet at the state
line until 1887.
caused not by just decrepit trestles, but
switch errors, miscommunication, even
wandering cows and sheep.
Between 1890 and 1901, according to
the Smithsonian National Postal
Museum, there were more than 6,000
accidents involving trains with mail
cars. It was common for mail cars to be
placed between locomotives and pas-
senger cars to help protect passengers,
taking the brunt of the impact in the
event of a collision.
Passengers on the Lake Labish train
had even more cushion. In addition to
the engine and tender, there were mail,
express and baggage cars in front of the
Locally, during that decade-long
stretch, there were more than three doz-
en crashes on Southern Paciﬁc lines in
the Portland Division, which included
Salem. A list of those wrecks and a col-
lection of photographs is housed in the
Douglas County Museum library in Ro-
The late George Abdill, a longtime
railroad employee and historian, com-
piled much of the list, which has since
been added to by Lloyd Palmer.
Palmer, who lives in Waldport, has
been interested in train wrecks since
the 1970s. He ranks the Lake Labish
crash among the top-ﬁve most serious
from that era.
“It’s one of the most well-known, and
it’s one of the most photographed,” he
When the dust settled
Photos will never do justice to the
scene. The trestle was referred to in
print as “a pile so rotten it crumbles in
moth-eaten dust.” Doctors summoned
to the site called it “the worst aggrega-
tion of wounded ever seen together in
They arrived to ﬁnd farmers and able
passengers caring for the seriously in-
jured. Some of the farmers transported
the wounded to their homes and provid-
One of the Pullman sleeper cars was
turned into a hospital. Other passengers
were treated on the soggy bed of Lake
Labish, supported with cushions from
the train. Fires were started to keep pas-
sengers warm and light the way for res-
The injured also were cared for in the
study hall at nearby Chemawa and be-
ginning the next day, at the Willamette
Hotel in downtown Salem.
Word soon spread that 100 fatalities
had dwindled to ten, then ﬁve, and ﬁnal-
Two passengers later died of their in-
juries, bringing the total to ﬁve.
More than 125 were reported to have
sustained injuries. A roster of 80-some
passengers and their injuries ran in the
Capital Journal. Spinal injuries and bro-
ken arms and legs were common. One
man bit oﬀ his tongue. Some escaped
only bruised, like the frontier celebrity
known as the “Poet Scout.”
A few, such as the doctor and his wife
from Philadelphia just back from a trip
In the days following the wreck, peo-
ple ﬂocked to the site to gawk at the col-
lapsed trestle and crumpled cars. Imag-
ine an airliner going down near Salem,
only you had to rush to the crash site in a
horse-drawn buggy instead of an SUV.
That’s what it was like.
Photographers came, too, and the im-
ages are remarkably sharp.
Fourteen black and white prints from
rail historian Ed Austin oﬀer various
views of the tangled wreckage. They’re
meticulously labeled in one of 800 bind-
ers in his collection of 100,000 rail-relat-
ed photos at his home just south of Sa-
Most of the images are posed and
show several men standing on top of or
leaning against train cars with their
thumbs casually tucked inside their
vest or pant pockets. One photo, with
the engine on its side, has a throng of
people 12 deep behind it.
Clackamas County Historical Society
also photographs, too, from the William
Howell Collection. Credit is given to F.J.
Catterlin, who had a studio in down-
One of his photos oﬀers a diﬀerent
perspective of the engine from atop
what’s left of the trestle looking down.
Another shows an interior shot of an el-
When Austin examines his collection
of photos, he can’t help but notice the
train doesn’t look that bad, especially
when you consider wooden cars were
“If this had been a high-speed derail-
ment, a car like this would be crushed,”
The train was traveling 20 mph when
it approached the north end of the tres-
tle. It appears, from what Austin can
make out in the photos, that the bents of
the trestle simply fell like dominoes and
the train settled down.
“The rear cars of the train are all just
sitting on the track, only about 15 feet
lower than they’re supposed to be,” he
said. “If you were going to be a train
wreck, this was the one to be in.”
Local newspapers reported the tres-
tle wasn’t inspected the previous year as
it should have been. A trade journal, the
“Railroad Gazette,” oﬀered this explana-
tion for why it was passed over:
“The Commission, on its annual in-
spection a year ago, recognized the poor
See TRAIN, Page 3A
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Continued from Page 1A
ment, assigned contracts, intellectual property assets
and packaging material and approximately $72 mil-
lion in estimated inventory.
The ﬁling says competing bids must be submitted
by Dec. 9 and must exceed Oregon Potato Company’s
$93.5 million oﬀer by at least $1 million.
NORPAC owes over $165 million to more than 5,000
creditors and is valued at $315 million, according to
“Debtors and buyer desires a closing as soon as
possible,” the ﬁling states. “It is in the best interest of
the Debtor and the estate to close the sale as soon as
A hearing on the motion has been scheduled for
1:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Port-
NORPAC has ﬁled notiﬁcations with Oregon it
could lay oﬀ nearly 1,400 workers at its Stayton, Salem
and Brooks locations, but didn’t ﬁle a similar notiﬁca-
tion with Washington about the Quincy facility.
The ﬁlings with the state indicate the Stayton proc-
essing plant, which is the company’s original location,
will close Nov. 27 and the Salem and Brooks facilities
will close Jan. 12, 2020.
NORPAC attorney Al Kennedy stated in court Tues-
day the company is entertaining oﬀers from four suit-
ors to purchase parts of its operation.