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Broadway Wreck


Two Northern Pacific railcars derailed from their tracks in downtown Fargo on this day in 1903. The two cars, one a Wisconsin Central Furniture Car and the other a Pennsylvania Coal Company car, were reduced to wood kindling and scrap metal. The Wisconsin car collided with the Broadway crossing tower and toppled the tower over in seconds, also snapping heavy cables attached to a nearby telegraph pole. Conrad Otterstetter, the tower watchman, was forced to escape from the falling tower by climbing through a trap door in the floor and jumping to safety. A friend of his who had brought his evening meal jumped right out of the tower’s window upon sight of the enormous railcar hurdling towards them. A falling brakebeam caused the derailment. The beam is believed to have fallen from a broken attachment, knocking the cars from the rail.


Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (Evening ed.). September 1, 1903: p. 4.

-Jayme L. Job