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Train accident killed a man in 1974 in New London

NEW LONDON -- In a story about past railroad accidents in the area, one serious accident was mistakenly omitted from the list.

On Nov. 10, 1974, Mark Davidson, 21, a former Willmar resident, died when a 70-car Burlington Northern going 40 mph was switched onto a short spur in New London. One other man was hospitalized with injuries.

At the time, railroad officials said the deadly incident was likely caused by sabotage, because someone would have had to move the switch manually to divert the train from the main line to the spur.

The train was traveling through New London when it went onto the spur near the Agricultural Products Inc. grain elevator. The nose of the lead engine, carrying Davidson, plowed 15 feet into the ground after it ran off the end of the track. A second engine pushed under the first and eight cars derailed.

Davidson apparently suffocated under the dirt, according to the Tribune story from Nov. 11, 1974.

The cars smashed into the elevator and warehouse in New London. The main wooden elevator building twisted when hit by the train, and one corner of the building had been moved six inches off its foundation. The warehouse was a total loss, and grain bins were damaged.