The Hammond Circus Train Wreck is considered one of the worst railroad accident in the history of America with 56 deaths and 127 injuries. The train was part of the Michigan Central Railroad and left Kalamazoo on June 22 1918 crashing just before Chicago between Gary and Hammond in Northwest Indiana.
Alonzo Sergent was the engineer that day and reported after the crash:
I was called shortly after 8 p.m. June 21, for deadhead equipment west, engine 8485, for 10.15 p.m., and left Kalamazoo, Michigan at 10.35 p.m. Had been up since 5 a.m., June 21, dead heading from my home in Jackson on Train No. 41, and had had little or no sleep during the day. Had had a couple of heavy meals before going out, realizing that I would not get anything more to eat until some time the next morning. Leaving Kalamazoo, followed freight train to Michigan City yard and stopped at signal near Center Street. Got proceed signal from some one on ground, pulled up to Michigan City, stopped at standpipe and took water....
Wreck happened at about 4.05 a.m., June 22, and I stayed there for an hour or more assisting in getting people out of the wreckage. I have been in the service of the Michigan Central Railroad Co. for approximately 28 or 29 years, the last 16 of which I have been continuously employed as an engineer. I am in perfect physical condition, as well as mental condition, and have had no illness within 25 or 30 years requiring the service of a doctor. There was nothing defective about the air brakes or other mechanism of the engine or train that I was operating, nor was there any defective condition of any of the signals or track upon which I was operating to the best of my knowledge. The accident was due solely to the fact that I accidentally fell asleep, and I had no intent to injure any person, nor was same done with malice, but solely through an accident, as aforesaid.
A memorial to those who died in the Circus Train Wreck and for many the place of their burial is Showman's Rest, inside a cemetery near Chicago.