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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Babcock in Wood County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Babcock

 
 
Babcock Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Keith L, May 5, 2009
1. Babcock Marker
Inscription. Railroading gave the first impetus toward Babcock's settlement. The settlement of Remington, located on the west bank of the Yellow River, was abandoned in favor of this site when the railroad named Babcock a division point. Two lines of the railroad merged just west of the river. Babcock reached national prominence on August 11, 1910 when this junction became the site of a wreck involving a circus train and a passenger train. Both trains vied for the junction. The circus train won the race, but became the loser when the passenger train ran into it. Several cars of the circus train were demolished, resulting in death and injury to several circus animals. Other exotic animals escaped, and Babcock became the site of an elephant hunt. Several of the animals are buried near here.

Babcock is noted for being the site of the last known, natural sighting of a passenger pigeon. The extinct specie was a game bird in the 1800's, and its migratory flights darkened the sky for several minutes as the birds passed over. The last passenger pigeon was killed here in 1899.

With the demise of the passenger pigeon, prairie chickens flourished, and this area became noted for its abundance of these birds. Special trains converged on Babcock, bringing hunters, including Wisconsin's Governor J.J. Blaine, who chartered a special train on
Babcock Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Keith L, May 5, 2009
2. Babcock Marker
one occasion.

Cranberry processing has replaced railroading. Deer hunting is now more popular than bird hunting. Nevertheless, Babcock continues to be a small, stubborn community that refuses to pass into oblivion.
 
Erected 1970 by the South Wood County Historical Corporation. (Marker Number 8.)
 
Location. 44° 18.103′ N, 90° 6.73′ W. Marker is in Babcock, Wisconsin, in Wood County. Marker is on State Highway 80/173 west of Pine Street, on the left when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1522 Necedah Road, Babcock WI 54413, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 15 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Cranberry Culture (approx. 7.3 miles away); City Foundersí Cemetery (approx. 9.8 miles away); Monroe Cemetery (approx. 15 miles away).
 
More about this marker. The marker notes August 11, 1910, as the date of the train wreck, however, old newspapers indicate that the circus exhibit was on Monday, August 15th, and the mishap occurred on Tuesday, August 16, 1910.

The collision was between a passenger train, northbound from New Lisbon to Star Lake, and a Campbell Brothers Great Consolidated Shows circus train southbound for Tomah, following a show in Grand Rapids (now Wisconsin Rapids). The passenger train, 15 minutes behind schedule, hit the circus train that had been cleared through the intersection, killing one man (John McKay of Texas) and numerous animals. Besides the escaped animals, a big box of imported "monster" snakes broke open and were at large in the county. Injured men were placed on a train the same afternoon and taken to the hospital at Tomah. It was reported that two of the men were so badly hurt that it was impossible for them to live.

Sources: Grand Rapids Tribune, August 17, 1910; Stevens Point Daily Journal, August 20, 1910; Janesville Daily Gazette, August 18, 1910.
 
Categories. AnimalsRailroads & StreetcarsSettlements & Settlers
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,364 times since then and 65 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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