A Forgotten Tragedy (6-22-1918)

It happened 99 years ago today.

Just before dawn, a Michigan Central train plowed into the rear of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train just east of Hammond.  The cars in the circus train caught fire, and 61 people were killed, most of them as they slept.  The Michigan Central engineer said the warning semaphore he went through had been obscured by steam.

The victims’ remains were buried in a mass grave in the Showmen’s Rest section of Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park.   Despite the elephant monuments—and contrary to urban legend—only human performers are interred at the site.


For 366 stories like this—one for every day of a leap year—buy a copy of my book, On This Day in Chicago History



1 Response to “A Forgotten Tragedy (6-22-1918)”

  1. 1 Jody Kostal June 22, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    My family, Mother Father her parents and many others are buried there. Been there many times.

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