November 7, 1907. Mexican railroad engineer Jesus Garcia Corona drives a dynamite-laden train that has caught fire away from the mining town of Nacozari. The train exploded outside of the town, killing Garcia and 12 other people in the vicinity, but the town of 5,000 residents was saved from being destroyed.
The train’s smokestack was faulty and the operator, who would usually be in charge of safety, had reported sick that morning. No-one noticed then that two wagons of dynamite were placed at the front of the train, near the smokestack, rather than at the rear. Sparks emerged from the stack and the boxes of dynamite caught fire. Garcia told the crew to jump from the train while he drove it at full throttle uphill and away from the town’s large dynamite and gas stores. Fearing that if he stopped or jumped himself the train would simply roll back down towards town, Garcia managed to take the train six kilometres before it exploded. In 1957, a special stamp was issued on the 50th anniversary of Garcia’s heroic actions and November 7 is still celebrated today as Mexican Day of the Railroader.
Also on November 7: the Canadian Pacific Railway is completed (1885); Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are killed after a shoot-out in Bolivia (1908); start of Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, according to the Gregorian calendar (1917); Mary Robinson becomes Ireland’s first female president (1990).
Born on November 7: Captain James Cook (1728) Marie Curie (1867), Leon Trotsky (1879), Albert Camus (1913), Joni Mitchell (1943), Rio Ferdinand (1978).