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Bomb Explosion at Tolar, NM November 30, 1944

Santa Fe train at Tolar in 1943

The westbound train is in the siding at Taiban. You can see the conductor and rear brakeman walking up the main line inspecting the train. Jack had time to load his other camera with color film and take the following picture.

Santa Fe train at Tolar in 1943

The little town of Tolar just four miles to the east, would be literally wiped off the map a year later. On Thursday, November 30, 1944 a westbound train with 81 cars was approaching the town. The train crew detected a hot-box on a tank car loaded with oil. When the engineer applied the brakes to stop the train the tank car derailed along with 36 other cars 200 yards from downtown Tolar. In the wreckage was a boxcar with 41 tons of explosives. The resulting fire set off the load of 500 pound bombs. The explosion leveled the town. Of the town's 30 residents, most were out of town working or running errands and the kids were in school at Taiban. There were only six people in town and miraculously only one person was killed in the accident.

Santa Fe train leaving Taiban

It is March and the wind that day was out of the south. As you can see the only thing to slow the wind down is the occasional barbed wire fence. The road to the left is US 60.