Tragedy came to town
A photo identified as the “Frisco Train Wreck” is presumed to picture debris from the 1917 train collision at Kellyville, about 8 miles southwest of Sapulpa.
Courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Tulsa City-County Library
Sept. 28, 1917, was a clear day, good for traveling on the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad. But as passenger train No. 407, en route from St. Louis to Lawton, Okla., left Kellyville, it would become part of what some have called the worst train accident in Oklahoma history.
At the time, trains along this part of the line were governed by timetables and orders transmitted by telephone. An investigation by the Bureau of Safety found the mistake was two-fold: an order was misunderstood and a train was misidentified.
They were costly errors.
At approximately 2:42 p.m., carrying an unknown number of passengers, No. 407 collided just west of Kellyville with freight train 1322.
The human impact was most significant to No. 407’s “smoker” and “Jim Crow” cars. Thirty-two passengers, mostly black, and one employee were killed, according to the investigation report; 57 passengers and five employees were injured.
“Persons who saw the wreckage described the scene as one of awful horror,” according to a Daily Oklahoman article published the following day.