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A big mess

By Staff | May 5, 2013

A train derailment inside the city limits of Blue Earth last Sunday evening broke the silence of the adjoining neighborhood.

“The whole house just shook,” says Candy Sass who lives near the railroad tracks by the closed Third Street crossing.

Eight fully-loaded grain cars had flopped onto their sides near the Third and the Fifth Street crossings around 5:15 p.m. on Sunday, April 28.

The train cars were loaded with corn which had spilled onto the ground.

In addition, several more cars had derailed off the tracks but had remained upright.

Other nearby residents, Bob and Pat Schavey, also described the derailment as pretty loud.

“There was this really loud thumping going on as the train was going by,” says Bob Schavey. “That was unusual. Then there was the loud crashing sound as the cars went over.”

His wife, Pat, was on the deck grilling supper.

“I heard the train going by and it sounded very strange so I went to look,” she says. “Then the cars all fell over one after another very fast.”

About 45 of the train’s cars had made it through the area without derailing and came to a stop across the Seventh Street crossing. By 8:30 p.m. they were able to continue to the southeast and the Seventh Street crossing reopened to traffic.

There were no injuries reported from the accident and no damage to any public or private property other than that owned by the Union Pacific Railroad.

The UP Railroad estimated that they will have to repair and replace 1,400 feet of rail. The rail work was expected to be done by last Tuesday, however, the grain car and corn cleanup was expected to take longer. The exact cause of the derailment remains under investigation.

Local officials expressed relief that there were no injuries and that the rail cars were carrying corn and not a substance such as ethanol, which could have meant evacuation of the neighborhood.

“We are used to the trains making noise as they go by,” says Bob Schavey. “But this was something else.”

A large crowd of residents were wandering around the scene and taking photos, but the Blue Earth Police Department and Faribault County Sheriff’s Office were patrolling the area in an attempt to keep sight-seers off railroad property.