Vis Major: Railroad Men, an ‘Act of God’—White Death at Wellington
At 1:43 a.m., March 1, 1910, a wall of snow descended on two Great Northern Railway trains stalled in the town of Wellington, Washington. Ninety-six people died in a single moment. To this day, the Wellington Slide remains North America’s worst avalanche disaster. Although other accounts of this monumental event exist, none are told entirely from the perspective of the railroad men who battled the week-long blizzard leading up to the tragedy. Vis Major gives voice to those men.
With vivid imagery and evocative prose, historian Martin Burwash brings railroaders from Cascade Division Superintendent James O’Neill to brakeman Anthony John Dougherty to brilliant life. Relive the crucial moments where men worked feverishly to clear the snow-clogged line over Washington’s Stevens Pass and intimately feel the fatigue, frustration, and misery of working hours upon hours in the harsh winter weather or aboard steaming rotary snow plows.
Expertly blending historical fact with railroad knowledge, Burwash delivers an amazing fictional account of this incredible, but often overlooked true event and simultaneously reveals the courage and fortitude of the human spirit.