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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Unnamed circus-train fire victims get new headstone



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Patti Morgan replays one sentence from an Associated Press story in an 1884 publication of the New York Times over and over in her mind.
“The odor of the roasting flesh and the distant cry of the coyote added to the general horror,” the story read. “The voices of the dying grew fainter and soon ceased.”
The story was about 10 men who were employees of Orton’s Anglo-American Circus Show. In 1884, they were on their way to a show in Golden when the train they were on caught fire near Greeley, burning them alive and injuring dozens of others.
According to a coroner’s report, 60 men were crowed in one railroad car that was also carrying two barrels of gasoline. The report said a torch used to light the car ignited the gas. Luggage blocked one end of the car and the fire blocked the other, leaving only a small window to escape through.
After the accident, the circus continued on its way and the victims were buried in a mass grave.
The image that one sentence conjures up is terrifying, Morgan said, but the idea of those men being buried in the same grave has left her with nightmares.
“It just messed with my head,” Morgan said. “It was the saddest thing I’d ever heard.”
Then she learned the men were never identified. It made it even worse for the 33-year-old Greeley woman.
“It was a very haunting thing to think of 10 men buried together,” Morgan said. “They burned together. They were literally thrown away. The circus just threw them away.”
Morgan first learned of the accident earlier this year when she bought a ceramic bowl from Goodwill that was wrapped in newspaper. When she got home she was looking at the newspaper and read a story by retired Tribune reporter Mike Peters about the number of unmarked graves at Linn Grove Cemetery. Again, one sentence stood out and replayed in her mind.
“The most famous of the unknowns were 10 circus workers who died in a circus train fire in Weld County in 1884,” the story read. read more at:http://www.greeleytribune.com/article/20111229/NEWS/712299963/1002&parentprofile=1001

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