This is Hope Woodside with your weekly Park City History Bit.
On July 5, 1905, spectators watching the Rio Grande Western train depart were horrified to see the engine suddenly rear up, topple down the embankment and settle on its side - just a thousand feet from the depot.
News of the wreck spread quickly around Park City.
Steam spewed from the broken engine and famous local ball player George Spillman made the courageous and risky move to jump inside the train’s cab to close the air valve.
Spectators found engineer Joe G. Bywater lying to the right of the tracks, alive, but with a badly broken leg. Bywater had seen an open switch on the track just 80 feet ahead of his advancing train, and he had immediately barked at fireman George Edgar to act. Edgar jumped up, reversed the engine, applied the air, and leapt out of the cab.
Sadly, Edgar perished, pinned in the gangway, leaving a wife and six children. Other than a few bruises, however, none of the passengers were seriously hurt. A local investigation ensued which found an unknown railroad employee had negligently left the switch unlocked.
This Park City History Bit is brought to you by the Park City Museum, and their newest exhibit, “Miners to Moguls: 50 Years of Park City Skiing”, and is sponsored by Julie Hopkins of Keller Williams Real Estate.