By Nolan Eller
Extent: 0.25 Cubic feet. More info below.
Arrangement: The series is further categorized into four sub-series entitled memorabilia, memorials, media coverage materials, and eye-witness interviews.
The Collection of the Purdue Train Wreck materials (1903-2006; 0.25 cubic feet) documents the Purdue Train Wreck of 1903. The collection includes memorabilia, memorials, newspaper clippings, eye witness interviews, and an oral history pertaining to the tragic event. This collection is made up of one series entitled Purdue Train Wreck. This collection is extremely valuable to anyone interested in the history of Purdue University.
This is collection has been assembled by Purdue Libraries staff over the years.
The Purdue train wreck of 1903 occurred on the morning of October 31st. The 14 car special chartered Purdue train was packed with roughly 1000 Purdue students, administrators, supporters, and the entire football team and football staff all on their way to the tenth annual Indiana University versus Purdue University football game to be played at the neutral site of Washington Park in Indianapolis. The crash occurred when the Purdue special collided with a string of steel coal cars at 9:45 a.m. just outside of Indianapolis. The engineer of the Purdue special attempted to put the train in reverse and put on the brakes, but it was too late. The first car, carrying the entire football team, was completely demolished being cut in half by the steel coal cars and then smashed by the cars behind it.
Seventeen individuals were killed as a result of the wreck and many more were seriously injured. Sixteen of the seventeen victims were seated in the first coach. Thirteen of the dead were football players, the other victims were a trainer, an assistant coach and former Purdue football standout, a student manager, and a Lafayette Indiana business man and football booster. In 1909 Purdue University dedicated Memorial Gymnasium, now known as Felix Haas Hall, to the victims of the 1903 train wreck. Entering the building are seventeen steps, one for each of the victims of the wreck. In 2003 the tunnel that the football players use to enter and leave Ross-Ade stadium was dedicated to the victims of the crash.
Purdue Reamer Club. A University of Tradition The Spirit of Purdue 2nd Edition. West Lafayette IN: Purdue University Press, 2013. Pgs. 182-186.
Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.
MSA 21, Simeon V.B. Miller scrapbook
MSA 277, John F.G. Miller papers
UA 2.05, Winthrop E. Stone papers
Preferred Citation: MSP 117, Collection of Purdue Train Wreck materials, Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries
Other Note: Materials origially from Pres. Stone's papers that were housed with this collection have been returned to Pres. Stone's presidential papers collection 4/2/2013.
1 Tickets to the Purdue/IU Game, October 31, 1903
2 Resolutions of the Purdue Alumni, 1903
3 Purdue’s memorial service, November 11, 1903
4 Memorial Issue of The Exponent, November 11, 1903; November 18, 1903
5 Memorial Gymnasium, 1903-1904
6 Funeral Programs-Edward Robertson and Jay Hamilton, 1903
7 Memorial Gymnasium and Ross-Ade Tunnel Dedication, 2006
8 Newspaper clippings, October-Nov.2, 1903
9 Newspaper clippings, 1959-2006
10 Photocopies of the Purdue Exponent, October 28, 1903 – October 31, 2003
11 The Purdue Debris, 1904-1915
12 The Purdue Alumnus, 1936 and 1951
13 Purdue Publications, 1929 and 1944
14 Oral History and Interview with relative of eye-witness to the wreck, 1969
15 Hand drawn map of the scene of the accident, 1951
Newspaper clippings and pages:
1 Purdue Exponent, 1978
2. The Chicago Daily Tribune, November 2, 1903
3. The Journal and Courier, Lafayette Indiana, November 14, 1959
4. Morning Journal, Lafayette Indiana, November 12, 1903
6 different pages from the same newspaper kept together by folded acid
5. The Chicago Sunday Tribune, November 1, 1903
6. The Indianapolis Sunday Star, October 27, 1912
7. Daily Bulletin, Anderson Indiana, October 31, 1903
8. The Indianapolis News, November 10, 1903