Wreck at Sheep Creek

Sometimes when things go bump in the night, it can make a real mess.  On August 27,1992, at about 7:30 PM,  a Rio Grande piggyback train sideswiped a Utah Railway coal train near Sheep Creek, Utah, on the western approach to Soldier Summit between Thistle and Mill Fork.  A local resident captured the aftermath on film.  His description:

Back in 1992 I got to see an incredible accident.  A switch didn't make up at Sheep Creek and a piggy back freight nailed a Utah Railway coal haul on a siding.  I wanted to show you this photo of 3146 which was on the lead.  Also in this wreck were 3155, which I was quite fond of, 3039 and 3051.  In the clean-up, they used the GP30's 3008 and 3020. 

Both trains were westbound.  The piggyback train had a clear block indication, but a crossover switch was lined improperly, so as to send the piggyback into the side of the coal train it was passing.  The subsequent investigation revealed a problem with signal maintenance.

The lead unit was ex-Conrail GP40 No. 3146.  When it hit the misaligned switch it sideswiped the coal train on the adjacent track, then went on the ground.
The trailing units are visible in this view.  Notice the piggyback trailers that have also spilled onto the ground.
Railroad employees are checking out the lead unit in this view.
Another look at the trailing units.  No. 3155 is a GP60, one of only three delivered in D&RGW paint, and is only about 2 years old at this time.  No. 3039 behind it is a GP35, nearly 30 years old, and No. 3051 (GP40) is only a year or so younger.

The next day, a work train is cleaning up the mess.  It's in the care of a pair of GP30s, Nos. 3008 and 3020.
Here's a look at the opposite side of the lead unit, showing the effects of scraping along the coal train.


Railroading can be a hazardous business.  The forces involved in moving several thousand tons are considerable.  Hats off to all those who do this for a living...

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