January 29, 2022

The Zaniest Railroad Accident in Prescott History

It seemed a normal July day in 1888 Prescott, but soon a ridiculous, domino-effect of events would cause the most bizarre railroad accident in the city’s history.

The heart of the city was bearing its usual traffic. A team of horses was approaching the Plaza, headed north on Cortez. 

Two pedestrians were walking south along the Plaza sidewalk. One was a man who was closely following a “big Dutch woman who was carrying a jug of molasses in one hand and a basket of eggs in the other,” the Weekly Journal-Miner described. She had just purchased them at JI Gardner’s store. Also on the Plaza was a homeless man.

In a couple of minutes a freight train loaded with livestock would be arriving at the Prescott depot.

Such was the scene when “a three-legged dog started from the post office,” the paper explained, “with a tin can tied to his tail.” The dog became increasingly frightened by the noise behind him which, of course, he could not escape.

Perhaps the homeless man was suffering from a hang-over; perhaps he didn’t like dogs, but for whatever reason, he threw a brick at the canine. Frightened, the dog bolted for what he considered his closest protection—in between the large Dutch woman’s legs. This caused her to lose her balance, spilling the entirety of her purchases. 

The man who was closely following her immediately slipped on the molasses causing him to “sit down on the Dutch woman who said: ‘Mine Got.’ The [man] said something about ‘mad dog,’ but said it backwards,” the paper quipped. Undoubtedly, the dog became even more distressed.

Haplessly, the ongoing slapstick scene spooked the team of horses that was driving by and they made a mad dash for the depot. No one could stop them as they charged down Cortez Street, crashed the rail yard, and tore a rail loose from the bed. 

This caused the incoming freight train to derail, killing 700 hogs in the process. 

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"The dog kept on the evil tenor of his way up Montezuma Street,” the paper reported. He reached Alexander Ayers’ Saddler Shop, which was at the time being patronized by lariat champion Riley Johnson. Johnson brought an end to the episode by showing his skill when he lassoed the wayward canine. Fortunately, there was no mention of any other injuries to man nor beast.

And that is how a three-legged dog killed 700 pigs.


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Weekly Journal-Miner, 7/18/1888; Pg. 3, Col. 5.

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