The following is the poem and story of the death of Wayne’s brother, Melvin Edward Knapp, born July 28, 1906, Wausaukee, Wisconsin, and died of a train accident November 28, 1943. He was married to Helen Griffiths, July 28, 1906, and left behind three children, Pat, Ila, and Irene. For more information on our Knapp family, see our Nicholas Knapp Descendents Family Tree.
A RAILROAD TRAGEDY
by Wayne Knapp
From Seattle, this mighty juggernaut,
Roared swiftly on her way;
Carrying government top priority,
she was not to be delayed!
At night, the headlight cast it’s beam,
Probing the rails ahead,
While the powerful railroad train gained speed,
With it’s firebox glowing red:
Through the cascade tunnel, and eastern plains,
The big train thundered on,
Through Ritzville, and into Idaho,
She pushed steadily along.
Three times, he’d asked assurance,
That the rail line would be clear;
Three times the word was given,
that he’d nothing there to fear.
So with his happy section crew,
They sped along the tracks —
But Wait! What’s that? A whistle’s sound?
There was no time to turn back!
Around the bend came the speeding freight,
With it’s whistle’s open wide!
“Jump off — and hurry,
And save your lives!” The frantic foreman cried!
The workers jumped, their lives were spared;
But the foreman vainly tried,
To save the speeder they’d ridden on;
And for this — the poor man died!
For the speeder was smashed – struck from behind!
And the foreman was pitched to the ground!
His head split open on the jagged rocks!
It was there his body was found!
I pay tribute to him, for a man never lived,
More thoughtful, unselfish, and kind,
Than that foreman, and father, and brother so dear,
That worked for the Milwaukee Line!
Handwritten Note: To Red and Anita from Wayne P. Knapp circa 1975-1985