The 100-year anniversary of WA’s worst train crash

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Briana FioreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
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Jono Ietto and his grandfather John reflect on the worst train crash in WA after finding century-old artefacts.
Camera IconJono Ietto and his grandfather John reflect on the worst train crash in WA after finding century-old artefacts. Credit: Picture: Briana Fiore

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the tragic Mornington train crash that killed nine people just 10km from the Harvey townsite.

The century-old crash is still the State’s worst railway disaster to this day.

On November 6, 1920, workers from Millars Timber Trading Co. were travelling from Mornington Mills to Wokalup, when the 60-tonne train they were travelling on, The Jubilee, came off the rails.

The Jubilee was travelling from Mornington Mills to Wokalup when it came off the rails.
Camera IconThe Jubilee was travelling from Mornington Mills to Wokalup when it came off the rails.

The locomotive, which was carrying a load of timber, was travelling across a bridge at almost 50kmh when the carriages were flung off the tracks.

According to the Australian Forrest History Society Inc. Newsletter, a jury ruled the crash, which killed nine men and injured two, was caused by “insufficient brake power being applied at the proper time”. The West Australian reported a “gruesome discovery” for the searchers.

The Mornington train crashed killed nine workers in 1920 and is still the state's worst railway crash.
Camera IconThe Mornington train crashed killed nine workers in 1920 and is still the state's worst railway crash.

One report stated the body of Thomas Wilton, the fireman on-board, “hanging on to the brake with one hand”.

The devastating incident occurred just a few kilometres from South Western Highway in Wokalup, on what is now John Ietto’s family farm.

Jono Ietto and his grandfather John reflect on the worst train crash in WA after finding century-old artefacts.
Camera IconJono Ietto and his grandfather John reflect on the worst train crash in WA after finding century-old artefacts. Credit: Picture: Briana Fiore

Mr Ietto said his son Albert was prospecting in the area when he discovered old tracks and remains of the train.

He said although the crash was sad, it was astonishing to think about the amount of manual-labour that would have been required to build a railway network and transport materials in the early 1900s.

His grandson Jono, said it was fascinating to learn about the history of his town and hoped to discover more artefacts in the area.

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