Oscar Bair of Portland is Victim at Parkplace.


Fireman, Injured When Thrown from Cab, Attempts to Shut Off Steam.

Oregon City, OR, Oct 22, 1920.

E-WGN-135 1920 train wreck

Photos by Ralph Eddy

Oscar Bair, engineer on the Southern Pacific extra freight No. 2560, was killed instantly at Parkplace today, when his engine and three cars telescoped and were thrown into the ditch after a flange on a gondola car had broken. Bair’s engine was running as a helper, and was near the center of the train.

The gondola car was loaded with coal and was two cars ahead of the engine. This car was twisted and broken, while the two other cars that left the track, both wooden box cars, one loaded with lumber and the other with flour, were completely demolished.

Bair was pinned under the wreckage and was scalded to death. B. A. McCall, the fireman, was thrown clear of the wreck although the engine toppled on his side of the cab.

Attempt at Rescue MadeE-WGN-137 1920 train wreck

Members of the crew declared that the train was making about 15 to 20 miles an hour when the accident occurred, but Mrs. K. Zielaskwski, who resides near the scene of the accident and who was an eyewitness, said it was running at a high rate of speed. Mrs. Zielaskwski was looking out the window of her home at the time. She said that she saw the fireman thrown clear of the cab about 15 or 20 feel away and that he immediately ran back and attempted to shut off the steam that was scalding the engineer.

The truck of the gondola was torn loose from the car and the engine plowed on ahead of the coal car before it went over.

E-WGN-136 1920 train wreckFuel from Engine Spilled.

The engine was an oil burner, and much fuel was spilled on the ground but did not ignite.

Paul Praueger, another eyewitness of the accident, immediately rushed to the train, but he said the engineer was dead when he arrived. Bair was formerly a guard at the penitentiary and leaves family in Portland. The body was brought to the Holman  & Pace undertaking establishment in this city, and McCall received medical attention here.

Trains were tied up in Oregon City all morning pending removal of the wreck, the first going through at 1 P.M.

A board of inquiry has been named by the Southern Pacific to make a complete investigation of the cause of the wreck and report its findings as quickly as possible.

Oregonian, October 23, 1920