Growing up in Houghton-Hancock, we kids talked a lot about the mythical “circus train crash,” in which a circus vehicle lost control and crashed into the canal, drowning – in various tellings – several people and a bunch of animals. The real story is pretty horrific:
3 Killed in WreckThree men were killed early on the morning of April 29th when the Carden-Johnson-Clyde Bros. Circus prop semi slammed into a railroad bridge at Houghton, Mich. Three other men who were also riding in the truck were injured, one seriously.An eyewitness said he heard a semi coming coming down the hill on Bridge Street in Houghton – faster and faster it came — people were screaming – it crossed busy US 41 – and crashed into a Soo Railroad bridge. One survivor said the last thing he remembered was the sound of leaking air — then awful silence.A borrowed truck was used to bring what props could be salvaged to the show’s engagement at Menominee, but gone were some sections of the ring curbs, the organ, drums, amplifier, the PA system and lights, plus some props and rigging.A turnaway crowd was on hand to greet the circus for both shows that day, as local citizens welcomed the circus in its moment of tragedy. It was a sad show, but a good one, is the way one spectator expressed his reaction.Killed in the accident were Carl A. Nordin, 43, of Lubbock, Texas, driver of the truck; Anthony Gilio, 61, of Corona, New York; and Wayne Lee Sater, 38, of Springfield, Mo.
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This is a true story– I was in college at Tech at that time, and had met several “roadies” that were in town for the circus- nice fellows, they stopped in at the Big Boy, I was a hostess there. The next morning when I came in was the morning after the circus truck crash– one of the waiters was the first on the scene after the crash, and came in later, he was still shaken up– he tried to save the guys in the cab, and said that there was gore everywhere.