Pere Marquette Railway Disaster

Thirty-one persons were killed and more than seventy injured, many of them seriously, when a Pere Marquette excursion train bound from Ionia to Detroit crashed into a west-bound freight train in a cut located at a sharp curve of the Pere Marquette Railroad about a mile east of Salem.

The passenger train of eleven cars, carrying the Pere Marquette shop employes of Ionia and their families on their annual excursion, was running at high speed, probably fifty miles an hour, down a steep grade. It struck the lighter locomotive of the freight train with such terrific force as to turn the freight engine completely around. The wrecked locomotives lay side by side, both headed eastward.

On July 20, 1907 an excursion train of 800 passengers from Ionia to Detroit collided near Salem with a freight train, killing 31 and injuring 101. The accident apparently happened because of a hand-written schedule on unlined paper whose columns did not line up, and were misread by the freight crew. The Interstate Commerce Commission investigation also cited various safety violations including use of pine instead of oak for car walls and an omission of steel plates required for mail cars. This remains Michigan's worst rail disaster

Salem has many claims to fame but none is greater than its connection with the July 20,1907 Wreck on the Pere Marquette Railroad. However it took place not in Salem Twp but just across the Washtenaw/Wayne County line in Northville Township. Salem was the last station passed by a special excursion train carrying more than 600 persons before a horrendous head on collision with a local freight train. With 33 persons killed and over 100 injured it was and still is Michigans worst passenger train accident.