The Train Explosion of 1989

Train Explosion

A community is rocked

February 2, 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the Montana Rail Link train collision that rocked the community of Helena and Carroll College. 
The explosion caused by the run-away train cars occurred at 4:48 a.m. sending plumes of ominous black smoke into the sky while scattering train debris across campus.  The collision of train cars caused massive damage to the Carroll campus and forced the pre-dawn evacuation of hundreds of students from the dormitories as temperatures dipped to 70-below zero with the wind chill.
Twenty-five years later we are able to reflect back on that day and recount the shared experiences, revisit the physical devastation, express our gratitude to the Helena community and most importantly, be forever thankful that miraculously no one was seriously injured during this truly monumental event.

Memories from the Blast

A poem by Ed Noonan

People of faith,
being the way they are,
did not see the February blast
as a measurable human failure to set brakes,
allowing a train to roll down the side of the Divide
impacting another train,
exploding outside the windows of the College,
shaking Bishop Carroll's old foundations
in ways soon to be explained 
in insurance ledgers of hours and costs.
No, people of faith,
analyzing facts the way they do,
saw an act of God,
who knows the force and direction of the Arctic winds
and the smallest measurements of the continental slope
and the hour of Helena's awakening,
to make our reawakening
to that special God place,
and those same people,
looking at reality in the way they do,
saw the black cloud
burning some unknown mixture
suspended over the College
on that frigid February day,
as a burning of everything old,
old sins, mistakes, misunderstanding,
all that had been misplaced,
allowing those waiting on the perimeter of the campus
to return to a restored
and well loved God place,
a fresh beginning,
a new start
to those people of faith,
who see new creation
as their God's art.