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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Commemoration set for Tipton Ford Tragedy

  • Almost 100 years ago, a tragedy struck near Tipton Ford, a small community between Neosho and Joplin. This summer the tragedy will at last be memorialized.
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  • Almost 100 years ago, a tragedy struck near Tipton Ford, a small community between Neosho and Joplin. This summer the tragedy will at last be memorialized.
    The tragedy occurred when two trains met head-on near Tipton Ford killing at least 41 people. The trains, one a motorcar on the Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad (M&NA) and the other a Kansas City Southern (KCS) freight train, collided in a ball of fire on Aug. 5, 1914.
    The Missouri & North Arkansas was traveling south toward Neosho and the Kansas City freight was northbound. It was determined that the M&NA car failed follow to orders stating that it should pull onto a siding at Tipton Ford to allow the KCS to pass.
    No one knows why the M&NA car ignored its order.
    The M&NA car was a motorcar, much like a passenger bus, that was used to transport passengers on rails. The motorcar was self-contained, with the engineer sitting in the coach with the passengers.
    Fueling the motorcar was gasoline, and the eruption of the fuel tank caused the unusually horrible tragedy.
    The KCS was a freight train, which had been converted to carry passengers.
    Many on board the M&NA were returning to Neosho after attending Emancipation Day activities in Joplin.
    A large funeral service was held on the Neosho town square on Aug. 7, 1914, with 33 caskets, 17 black and 16 white. Positive identification was impossible and no one knows how many people actually died or their race. The victims were buried in a mass grave in the Neosho I.O.O.F Cemetery. A large stone with the names of 15 known victims marks the burial site.
    This Great Tipton Ford Motorcar Wreck will be commemorated on Aug. 5, 2014, the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. Shoal Creek Heritage Preservation, a small private group, is leading the commemoration with help from the Carver Birthplace Association and several other groups or individuals.
    For the commemoration, a stone will be dedicated on the grounds of the Undercliff Restaurant at Tipton Ford. The dedication ceremony is open to the public and those with close friends or relatives on the trains are especially invited.
    A commemorative booklet, telling the story of the accident with pictures of the aftermath is being written and will be published by Shoal Creek Heritage Preservation. Proceeds from the sale of the booklet will be applied to the cost of the stone and the ceremony.
    There will be only 500 booklets printed and they will be available at the ceremony and in the Carver Monument Bookstore. Orders for the booklets may be purchased now for pick up after they are printed.
    Anyone who wishes to contribute toward the cost of the memorial stone, the booklet or the ceremonial activities may send their donations to Shoal Creek Heritage, 400 Susan Place, Neosho, 64850. Pre-print orders for the booklet ($5) may be sent to this same address.
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