Train disaster a dark turn for rail veteran

July 23, 2013

A blinding flash of orange light jarred Weyauwega residents awake before dawn on March 4, 1996. An 81-car freight train had been barrelling toward the farm town in central Wisconsin when it jumped a broken rail. The train’s propane and petroleum cargo had caught fire and exploded.

Gerald Poltrock II, a rookie local police officer, thought it was a prank when the dispatcher called to say the city “blew up.”

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