Tank Springs

Willow Valley Train Wreck


On Sept. 17, 1861, Ohio & Mississippi train carrying about 250 members of the 19th Illinois Regiment were enroute from Cairo, Ill., to Washington, D.C. The train wrecked at Bridge 48, west of Willow Valley in Martin County, after passing bridge east of deep cut pass. The train started to cross the bridge and it collapsed, resulting in the deaths of 40 men and injuring about 105 others. 

A reporter from the Cincinnati Daily Commercial accompanied the rescue train to the wreck.... Describing what he seen upon arrival of the wreck he saw a train car thrown off the track some 20 yards from the bridge; that of another car standing on end. The engine passed the bridge safety; the first car was thrown off the track, about 20 yards beyond the bridge. The second car fell directly into the Beaver Creek, the third car went in to the creek, the fourth and fifth cars ran on top of the third, crushing it flat as a board. In the third car was Company I, where the greatest loss took place. The six and last car, containing the field officers and their attendants, was not injured. 

The railroad company asked the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce to appoint a committee of mechanics to inspect the bridge and issue an opinion on the cause of the disaster. On Sept. 25, 1861 eight days after the disaster the committee reported that a broken rail near the entrance to the bridge was the cause. 

At the time local resident of Martin County blamed the large group of Knights of the Golden Circle, who were southern sympathizers, and were suspected of loosening the rail.

In 1899 Willow Valley Tunnel was built which by pass the 3 miles of track where this train wreck occurred. The county would later take over the old railroad bed to make it into a county road Deep Cut Lake Road which goes in front of US Gypsum.

Willow Valley Tunnel


The Willow Valley Tunnel is 1160 ft long.

Willow Valley Tunnel Workers


The tunnel work commenced May 1st 1899 and completed Oct 1st 1900. 



Deep Cut Rd was the railroad track before the willow valley tunnel was built.