Remembering The Hammond Circus Train Wreck in Indiana
The circus has long been an attraction for families, and in the 1800's and early 1900's, was one of the most widely popular forms of entertainment. But one story stands above the rest, that left a massive scar on the circus world over 100 years ago. On June 21st 1918, The Hammond Circus successfully performed a show in Michigan City, and were on their way to Hammond, IN for another show late in the night.
More than 300 laborers and circus performers were on board one of the circus’s two trains when it was forced to stop to deal with a mechanical issue. The vast majority of passengers were asleep, unaware entirely that another train was bearing down on them at full speed, and that in just a few minutes the Hagenback-Wallace Circus would suffer one of the worst tragedies it would ever endure.
While dealing with mechanical issues and stopped on the tracks, the brake man of the train noticed a bright light approaching, which is when he realized it was another train. The brake man apparently sprinted down the tracks, and in an attempt to get the attention of the driver, he even threw a signal flair at the window. The train never slowed down and violently collided with the stopped train.
Oil lamps used to brighten the train then caused large fires throughout many carts, and many performers were trapped in a terrible situation. In the end, 86 people were killed 127 people were injured. It was later discovered that the driver of the train that crashed into the circus train had fallen asleep at the wheel, and although criminal charges were brought forth, a mistrial led him to get out of the ordeal jail free.
An Elephant Buried Underneath Abandoned Michigan Mall
54 Years and 1 month to the day after their Michigan City performance, another tragedy struck, this time in Michigan. The abandoned Summit Place Mall in Waterford, Michigan is apparently the burial site of a 4-ton circus elephant named Little Jennie, who passed away in the afternoon of July 21st, 1972.