It was raining, hardly a way to start a festive occasion. The prominent passengers who climbed aboard the fifteen decorated wooden railroad cars that day were on their way to Jefferson City where there also were decorations and a special dinner planned. Actually, they were on a train trip to tragedy and into history. It was 1855 and the Pacific Railroad had been struggling westward across the state for a couple of years. The legislature was to go back into session that month and the railroad had hurried to open the line in time for the lawmakers to use it. Since more state railroad aid was necessary, a completed rail line to the capital would be an important public relations gimmick. A bridge over the Gasconade River needed some finishing touches. But a day earlier, a gravel train had run across the 800-foot trestle and there had been no problems.
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