Train Derails in De Soto, WI


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

A train belonging to Burlington Northern Santa Fe derailed in De Soto, Crawford County, midday on April 27 along the Mississippi River. Two of the 10 derailed train cars fell into the Mississippi River.

Two of the three locomotives, the compartments that provide power, derailed. Many of the train cars that derailed contained lithium-ion batteries, paint and other hazardous materials.

According to the Crawford County Emergency Management’s Facebook page, BNSF’s initial statement at 3:00 p.m. on April 27 included that “two of the three locomotives and an unknown number of cars carrying freight of all kinds are reported to be derailed on the bluff side of the Mississippi River.”

Highway 35 and some roadways from Crawford County B to De Soto have been closed since April 27 to allow heavy equipment to enter the site of the derailment and repair both the railway and roadway. The sudden road closures on Highway 35 prompted public concern and frustration on Facebook.

To answer some frequent questions about the derailment, CCEM posted a question and answer on their Facebook on April 30 about the derailment.

They noted that “BNSF is a private entity that owns the private property which the tracks are on and property adject to the tracks,” but that Highway 35 was closed “to keep repairs going on the track and roadway. BNSF has multiple lines of track on that rail … the State DOT granted access and shut down Hwy 35.”

Along with the road closures and derailment cleanup, Crawford County has been dealing with intense and oftentimes flash flooding along the Mississippi.

CCEM declared that a 211 had been activated as of May 1 to assist in reporting, recording and providing emergency services to residents who have experienced flood damage and/or need help recovering from the floods.

CCEM announced on May 6 that Highway 35 had been reopened.