Cherry Coal Mine Disaster

The Milwaukee Road's Last Days
Cherry Mine Disaster Story
Story of Disaster by Steve Stout
The Fatal Day
Story in a Nutshell
Mine Site photos
Description of Cherry Mine
James Cherry
page two mine pics
Page Three Mine Pics
Page four Mine photos
Page Five Mine Photos
Page Six Mine Photos
Page Seven Mine Photos
Page Eight Mine Photos
Page Nine Mine Photos
Bell Signals etc.
Page Ten Mine photos
New Mine photos
Aerial Views
Cherry Mine Artifacts
Sunday Morning Crowds
Cherry Mine Model
Model Pics Set Two
Twelve Heroes Story
John Flood: Hero
Alex Norberg (Hero)
Read about Eight-Day Men
John Thomas Brown
George Eddy
Which Story Deserves Movie?
The Memorial and More
Miners Tombstones
Cherry Depot
Soldier Trains and more
Morgue Tent
Names of Victims
Names of Victims section two
Coal Mining Words
Map Diagrams
No Respect For History
The Day the Tipple Fell
Farewell letters
Sam Howard's Letter
More on the Subject
"Oneness" Press release
TRAPPED: Karen Tintori's new book
Ray Tutaj Model Projects
Last Days of The Milwaukee Road
Milwaukee Road Car
St. Paul Coal Mine Office
Remembering the disaster.
100th Anniversary/Car Show
100th Anniversary Photos
100th Anniversary photos by Candy Brown
100th Anniversary pics from Karen Tintori
We need Your Help (1909 song)
Cherry Word Puzzle
Favorite Links
About me
Tour of Mine Site
Contact Me
100th Anniversary Documentary Available and More!
Cherry Mine Disaster Historical Society
T-Shirts, Sweatshirts etc.(100th anniv.)
Train Photo CDs Available
Train Video DVD's Available
Train -e-books NEW!
Workers Compensation
Cherry MIne Enthusiasts Remembered
How You Can Help

   The C. M. & St. P. RR began operating through Mendota in 1904, the same year the St. Paul coalmine opened in Cherry.  The railroad kept this line open for many decades after the demise of the coal mines, operating until 1981.  It would be grain, plastics, chemicals and steel, to name a few of the products that would sustain this railroad up to 1981. This was the last chapter in this railroad's history. I was lucky enough as a teenager to witness it.  It was locos such as the one pictured below that pulled the trains from Janesville, Wisconsin through Mendota, Ladd and the line ended in Oglesby.  However coal was still hauled by the Milwaukee on this line in the late 70's.  The coal was brought up from southern Illinois by the Illinois Central railroad. I remember the IC setting a whole string of cars out onto the milwaukee tracks in Mendota.  It was the better quality of coal in the southern part of the state that helped to bring an end to the northern mines such as the one in Cherry IL.  You can see at the left side of this picture below some of those coal cars set out by the I.C. RR.  The coal was then hauled by the Milwaukee Rd. north to a power plant in Wisconsin if I remember correctly.

The Milwaukee "covered wagons" in Mendota
Photo by Howard Neilson taken in 1979

  The photo here below shows the rails abandoned. This section of track from Mendota to Route 251 (old 51) was used occasionally by the Burlington Northern to service a chemical plant just across the highway. I was able to grab a few photographs of the weed covered rails in the late 80's.  As I was walking these Lonely Rails I imagined the steam engines pulling the coal trains from Cherry and thought about the history of these rails right here i was walking.  It was over this line that some of the first help arrived at the Cherry Mine Disaster. The Chicago Fire department came to assist with fire fighting equipment on this line.  A train from champaigh IL. came on the ICRR to Mendota, carried some men with special breathing equipment, and then headed down this line of the Milwaukee to help at the disaster.  Now these rails are gone and even the traces of the roadbed are disappearing quickly.  Recently (2002) I was able to salvage a "Junction One Mile" sign just south of Mendota. The sign stood tall and proud and was like a weathered and war-torn flag still waving in the eerie winds. The sign stood to let the trains know that they were just one mile south from the Junction of Mendota. I took a few last photos before i brought it down, and with tender loving care brought it to the Mendota Railroad Museum to be preserved.  If I didn't do this, the sign would have ended up on a farmer's burn pile as they are turning this roadbed into farmland.  Just a couple hundred yard from this sign you can still see an old trestle spanning over a creek.  I will try to find a pic of the sign and this trestle and post it on this page below, so watch for it. And you can come and see this sign at the Mendota Rail Museum forever!

Abandoned rails of the Milwaukee Road near Mendota
Photo taken by Ray Tutaj in 1988

Lonely Rails looking toward route 251
Photo by Ray Tutaj Jr.

The photo below brings back many memories for me. From age 9 to 17 I witnessed scenes such as this one just about everyday.  I lived along seventh avenue on the east side of the IC tracks. I was amazed when we first moved from LaSalle to Mendota in 1973 that my front yard was a theater of trains. Close action everyday for eight years. It was truly fascinating but i always thought the railroads would be there and never took any pictures. My excuse is Iwas just too young.

Milwukee Rd. Locos in Mendota at Depot
Photo by Loius Richards III Great picture!!

Milwaukee Railroad