Superior Couple Recounts Train Derailment - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Superior Couple Recounts Train Derailment

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SUPERIOR - Crews with heavy machinery worked to remove the wreckage from an early Wednesday morning train derailment near Superior that sent rail cars into Clark Fork River.

Alan Brockway and his wife, Jane, have owned ranch land four miles east of Superior along the Clark Fork River for 35 years, but they have never experienced a train derail from the tracks high above the river.

"We heard a loud, very loud noise," Alan said. "Originally, we thought it was some sort of micro-burst, a weather-related event. We've been having a lot of thunder, lightning and wind. We've lost a few trees. Some neighbors have lost some trees."

Around 4:30 Wednesday morning, 23 cars of a 66-car Montana Rail Link train bound for Laurel derailed.

"I was heading out on my walk and the neighbor was heading down the road and said he heard there was a train wreck. I said, well, if there is, I know exactly where it is. It's down on the rocky point."

Spokeswoman Linda Frost said four cars rolled down a steep embankment and plunged into the Clark Fork River. Alan said Montana Rail Link has experienced problems in that area before due to the rugged terrain.

" 'Cuz it's such a narrow, rocky point. So, it's been a problem area."

While the train had 19 empty cars, it was carrying a variety of commodities, like cedar chips and lumber. The empty cars, which were submerged in the river, once carried sugar and fuel. Still, the Brockways say it could have been much worse.

"It is a mess, but it could have been much worst. There was really no toxic waste that got in the water, thank Heavens."

For Jane, Wednesday's derailment brought back memories of a 1996 train crash in Alberton, in which toxic chlorine and other chemicals leaked from the cars.

While no injuries were reported, the cause of the derailment is still under investigation.

Frost says about 20 trains travel that line each day and will be diverted to another route.

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