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Collection of Purdue Train Wreck materials

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 117

Scope and Contents

The Collection of the Purdue Train Wreck materials (1903-2006; 0.25 cubic feet) documents the Purdue Train Wreck of 1903.  The collection includes memorabilia, memorials, newspaper clippings, eye witness interviews, and an oral history pertaining to the tragic event.  This collection is made up of one series entitled Purdue Train Wreck.  This collection is extremely valuable to anyone interested in the history of Purdue University. This is collection has been assembled by Purdue Libraries staff over the years.


  • 1903 - 2006

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Acquisition Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Some material in this collection are in the public domain, while other material copyrights are held by Purdue University. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Historical Information

The Purdue train wreck of 1903 occurred on the morning of October 31st.  The 14 car special chartered Purdue train was packed with roughly 1000 Purdue students, administrators, supporters, and the entire football team and football staff all on their way to the tenth  annual Indiana University versus Purdue University football game to be played at the neutral site of Washington Park in Indianapolis.  The crash occurred when the Purdue special collided with a string of steel coal cars at 9:45 a.m. just outside of Indianapolis.  The engineer of the Purdue special attempted to put the train in reverse and put on the brakes, but it was too late.  The first car, carrying the entire football team, was completely demolished being cut in half by the steel coal cars and then smashed by the cars behind it. Seventeen individuals were killed as a result of the wreck and many more were seriously injured.  Sixteen of the seventeen victims were seated in the first coach.  Thirteen of the dead were football players, the other victims were a trainer, an assistant coach and former Purdue football standout, a student manager, and a Lafayette Indiana business man and football booster.  In 1909 Purdue University dedicated Memorial Gymnasium, now known as Felix Haas Hall, to the victims of the 1903 train wreck. Entering the building are seventeen steps, one for each of the victims of the wreck.  In 2003 the tunnel that the football players use to enter and leave Ross-Ade stadium was dedicated to the victims of the crash. Source: Purdue Reamer Club.  A University of Tradition The Spirit of Purdue 2nd Edition. West Lafayette IN: Purdue University Press, 2013. Pgs. 182-186.

Note written by Nolan Eller


0.40 Cubic Feet (one half-width manuscript box and one folder)

Arrangement Note

The series is further categorized into four sub-series entitled memorabilia, memorials, media coverage materials, and eye-witness interviews.

Other Descriptive Information

Materials origially from Pres. Stone's papers that were housed with this collection have been returned to Pres. Stone's presidential papers collection 4/2/2013.
Collection of Purdue Train Wreck materials
In Progress
Nolan Eller
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Second edition.

Revision Statements

  • 2020-04-29: Collection description updated by Adelle Rogers.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States