[Non-DoD Source] Re: [RealSTMFC] Burning Box Car

Gatwood, Elden J SAD

Fabulous story, Ken!


This is the weird stuff we rarely talk about, but is fascinating.


The correspondence is a good read, because the car owner and RR on which the car was destroyed/damaged, usually carried on a peppery dialog on whose fault it was.  “It was YOUR maintenance responsibility!”  “Yeah but you loaded it with hot steel!”


Elden Gatwood


From: <> On Behalf Of Ken Vandevoort
Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2021 11:17 AM
Subject: [Non-DoD Source] Re: [RealSTMFC] Burning Box Car


I am going to take a wild guess about the photo.  In the late 60's, a westbound Burlington freight train had a boxcar of bombs or some sort of ammunition from the Iowa Ordinance Plant in Middletown, Iowa.  The train was west of Chillicothe, Iowa and east of Albia, Iowa.  This was an area where the double track is physically split and not next to each other.  A hotbox caught the wood floor of the car on fire and the car blew up.  There was a casualty and it was a hobo.  I later was introduced to a railroader and he was the conductor on that train.  That is a steam crane. If this was the event, the crane was probably out of Galesburg.  I don't think the BN merger had taken place yet when the train blew up or else it was fairly new.  This may not be the event, but the scenario would fit.

I was stationed overseas when this happened.  When I returned home, a friend showed me where the car blew up.  There was still nothing growing in that area.

Ken Vandevoort