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2018-01-09 13.59.09

1938 School Bus / Train Accident Memorial

Bus Passengers:


  • Rela Marie Beckstead
  • Neal Wilson Densley
  • Robert Hansen Egbert
  • William H. Glazier
  • George Albert Hunt
  • Lois Anna Johnson
  • Byard Larson
  • Rosa Larson
  • Naomi Lewis
  • Helen Lloyd
  • Lois Rae Miller
  • Virginia Nelson
  • Roland Blaine Page
  • Louis Duane Parkinson
  • Allen Ole Petersen
  • Kenneth C. Peterson
  • Harold W. Sandstrom
  • Farrold H. Silcox (Driver)
  • Carol Vincent Stephensen
  • Viola Sundquist
  • Naomi Webb
  • Wilbert Webb
  • Dean Lee Roy Winward
  • Helen Young


  • Mack Bateman
  • Chloe Beckstead
  • Manuel Beckstead
  • Marjorie Beckstead
  • Doug Brown
  • Laraine Freeman
  • Oneva Green
  • Marjorie Groves
  • Louise Hardman
  • Glen Kump
  • Manford Osborne
  • Ida Smith
  • Mabel Smith
  • Ann Webb
  • Russell Webb

2018-01-09 13.58.59

Tragedy Strikes Small Farming Communities

December 1, 1938 dawned as a snowy, foggy, eerily quiet day.  While a school bus headed through the dense winter storm toward Jordan High School, a loaded Denver and Rio Grande freight train rolled north toward Salt Lake City.  Near the railroad crossing at 10200 South and 400 West, the driver stopped the bus.   He opened the door to look beyond the thick fog but did not see the 80+ car “Flying Ute” train approaching at over 50 miles per hour.  At 8:43 a.m., the wet rubber tires of the bus strained up the gentle grade and pulled slowly forward across the tracks.  Upon seeing the bus, the train crew immediately applied the brakes, but the collision was inevitable.  The tragedy killed 23 children and the bus driver.  The 15 survivors faced a lifetime of serious physical injuries and emotional scars.  The devastation felt by all residents of the South Salt Lake Valley is impossible to describe in words alone.  At the time, Jordan High was the only high school serving the present day boundaries from the Cottonwood Canyons to 8400 west, and Point of the Mountain to 6400 South.  The impact and tragic loss left no family untouched.  Every South Jordan home had lost a son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin or friend.

Tragedy Draws National Attention

This bus/train accident sent the community and the nation into mourning while various religious, charitable and governmental organizations rallied to support the area.  Local and national media coverage brought an outpouring of sympathy for the victims and their families.  Business and governmental investigations combed through massive amounts of data to determine what practical improvements could be made to avoid similar catastrophes.  Countless generations have benefited from railroad crossing laws and mechanical crossing arms.  Often taken for granted is a mandatory requirement for bus drivers to not only stop at railroad crossings, but also to open their door and driver side window to look and listen for oncoming trains.  Resulting from a disaster in this small Utah town, these national regulations are still in place today, making the loves of many school children much safer.

Naomi Lewis, age 17, penned this poem the night before she died in the bus/train wreck.
Earth’s Angels.
 I like to think that the wind
Is Angles in the trees,
Stanley noble Angels
that no one ever sees.
When the world is peaceful
and people are living right,
They rustle the branches gently
throughout the entire night.
But when the world is wicked
Then sorrow bursts from the trees,
and it sounds like the wailing,
woeful hum
of hostile atrocious bees.
Buy in my imagining
It’s angels sorrowing in the tree.
At night they call a council
Of angels on the earth,
Each angel chooses a mortal
to guide to his preordained worth.
So I like to think that wind
Is angels in the trees
Stanley noble angels
That no-one ever, ever sees.
This monument is located in the Cemetery in South Jordan.