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Collection of Purdue Train Wreck materials



Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Memorabilia, Memorials, Media coverage, Oral History, and Eye-Witness interviews

Oversized Large

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Collection of Purdue Train Wreck materials, 1903-2006 | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

By Nolan Eller

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Collection Overview

Title: Collection of Purdue Train Wreck materials, 1903-2006Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1903

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.

Subjects: Purdue Boilermakers (Football team), Railroad accidents--Indiana--Indianapolis

Forms of Material: Articles, Clippings (Information artifacts), Magazines (Periodicals), Maps, Memorabilia, Oral histories (Document genres), Printed ephemera

Languages: English


Newspaper articles, eye witness interviews, an oral history, and memorabilia relating to the 1903 Purdue Train Wreck.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

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.

Collection Historical Note

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.

Subject/Index Terms

Purdue Boilermakers (Football team)
Railroad accidents--Indiana--Indianapolis

Administrative Information

Repository: Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Accruals: This collection my occassionally be added to by Archives' staff.

Alternate Extent Statement: 1 mss box, 1 oversize folder

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.

Related Materials:

MSA 21, Simeon V.B. Miller scrapbook

MSA 277, John F.G. Miller papers

UA 49, 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.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Memorabilia, Memorials, Media coverage, Oral History, and Eye-Witness interviews, 1903-2006],
[Folder 1: Oversized Large, 1903-1978],