The cars can been seen floating in the lake. Notice the little boy standing at the end of the tracks looking at the lake, as well as the cars that had made it across the bridge can be seen on the other side. The Winsted Lake dam can be seen in the upper right portion of the photo. Phot courtesy of Jack and Petie Littfin.
50 years ago: train trestle collapses into Winsted Lake
By Ryan Gueningsman - Herald Journal 2003
Half a century ago, Winsted looked a little different.
It had a train depot, a depot agent, as well as a bridge, or "trestle" as it was locally known that went across the southeast bay of Winsted Lake.
Fifty six years ago Friday, Oct. 17, 1953 at 2:30 p.m., that bridge collapsed while a train was going across the lake. Nine cars ended up submerged in Winsted Lake. Workers tried unsuccessfully to fill in where the bridge was, and the bridge was never rebuilt.
The railroad track was diverted to go around Winsted Lake where the Luce Line State Trail is today.
The following excerpts were taken from back issues of local newspapers, and are reprinted exactly as were written.
Railroad trestle collapses, 9 cars in lake
From the Winsted Journal, Thursday, Oct. 29, 1953
Plans to re-build old right-of-way abandoned
All available help at work building new road on south side of bay
Excitement was at high pitch here Saturday afternoon when the alarm came in that the timber trestle supporting about 600 feet of track on the Minnesota Western railroad about one mile east of Winsted across the south bay of Winsted Lake, formerly known as Lake Eleanor, collapsed in the center and nine cars loaded with corn and oats went into the water.
It was a train load of 34 cars, six cars and the locomotive had gone over the break, the next nine cars went down, and the 19 cars in the rear remained on the track. Cause for the collapse has not been determined.
Immediate action was taken to fill up on both sides of the trestle so that repair work could be started as soon as possible. The work continued for two days with the fresh dirt sinking in the mud as fast as it could be hauled. Finally the road officials came to the conclusion that to repair the damaged road was too great a task and it was abandoned and a decision was made to build the right-of-way around the south side of the bay.
In a matter of a few hours large "bulldozers" were at work pushing over trees and clearing the ground for a new track. All available manpower has been put to work taking up the old track, and just how long it will be before the newly constructed right-of-way will be ready for service, only time will tell.
The trestle is approximately 600 feet long and was built 40 years ago. We have been told that it is 39 years since the first train passed over it.
For the present the mired cars will remain in their present position, however some of the corn is being salvaged. It has been sold to local farmers.
The accident has been mentioned by Twin City broadcasting stations and some pictures were also shown by TV, thus the affair has created much curiosity and thousands of folks have come to view the mess.
One of the old landmarks that had to "give-way" for the new right-of-way is a rail fence on the Ferd. Rhode farm of which he had great pride. The fence no doubt was built over half a century, but re-located when the road bed was laid 40 years ago.
The Journal had obtained a mat, a reproduction of a picture of the accident that appeared in Monday morning's Tribune, which we had intended to use in this week's issue, but in attempting to cast it for our use the mat warped and the stereotype wasn't fit for use.
Railroad bridge collapses at Winsted Saturday
From the Lester Prairie News, Thursday, Oct. 29, 1953
The middle span of the 600 ft. railroad bridge over Winsted Lake collapsed last Saturday as a 34 car Minnesota-Western freight train passed over it. Nine railroad cars, some loaded with corn and oats, plunged into the 8 ft. deep lake. No one was injured.
Recovery and repair was started immediately.
Nine freight cars plunge into lake
From the Howard Lake Herald, Thursday, Nov. 5 1953
Nine freight cars plunged into the south end of Lake Eleanor near Winsted Sunday before last when a bridge collapsed. Minnesota Western Railroad bridge over the lake is about a block in length. No one was injured in the accident.
The bridge gave way after the engine and several of the loaded freight cars had crossed the crucial point. Nine cars plunged into the water, and the other cars remained on the bridge rails.
Some of the cars were half submerged and were badly damaged with splinters floating in all directions. Contents of the cars was shelled corn and it too was strewn all over the water.
Railroad officials are investigating the cause of the derailment. Repair work was begun immediately.
Enjoy the stroll!!