BNSF Derailment Photos
Shrewsbury, MO - August 31, 2002

On August 31, 2002, a taconite train going from Wisconsin to Alabama via the BNSF River Subdivision derailed in the early morning hours while crossing the bridge over Watson Road (old Highway 66) in Shrewsbury, MO. Here are some pictures of the cleanup process.

Surveying The Damage
Here are some general shots of the derailment site.
The collapsed bridge span is obvious, although I'm not sure if the span failed on its own, or if a car derailed and went into a span, causing it to fail.

Note the "good" hopper car coupled to the dangling one, presumably to help keep the one end on the trestle.

A couple of Geeps waiting to haul away the remaining hopper car.

Hopper Car Removal
Most of the derailed hopper cars had already been moved to the sides of the track.
They were winched along by bulldozers to Watson Road, where they were then loaded on flatbed trucks.
A bulldozer (the one to the left, with the large arm) hooks up to a damaged hopper and pulls it along the tracks.
They reach a clearing, then the dozer takes it up to Watson Road.

Notice the impromptu dirt "road" that dump trucks had made, allowing access to the site.

They prepare to lift the car up so it can be put on a trailer. Note the shovel in the rear has been chained to the other end of the car to help lift it up.
The truck backs up, and the hopper is gradually lowered onto it.
"Is it just me, or are we leaning left?"
After repositioning the load and fastening it down with chains, it's ready to go. How'd you like to drive THIS down the highway?

Rebuilding The Grade
After clearing the damaged cars off the mainline, bulldozers smoothed out the grade where the tracks used to be. Dump trucks accessed the line via a nearby business adjacent to the tracks, then dumped their loads to help begin rebuilding the line.
Backing up and dumping out the dirt.

Removing The Derailed Hopper
Meanwhile, crews worked on removing the dangling hopper. It had already been secured by a large mobile crane.
The hopper was emptied of its load of taconite by workmen blowtorching holes in the bottom bays, then letting the load pour out.
Once emptied, the Geeps moved in to pull away the other hopper that had been coupled to it.
Why go to the St. Louis County Fair when you can watch a train wreck being cleaned up!
Finally, the crane removes the hopper and places it in the cleanup area.

In no particular order...
These specially-equipped bulldozers, with an arm and hook on one side and counterweight on the other, are used to lift and move derailed freight cars.
Some interesting trucks at the derailment.
"Gee Bob, I sure hope those cars don't slide into our building! Them ribs done yet?"

The Finished Product
By 09/02/2002, reconstruction is complete and traffic begins moving again.
Notice how the fill was extended to make up for the missing support trestles.


Last modified: June 17, 2007