James and Ellen White boarded the train bound for Michigan with some misgivings. Pastor White had felt uneasy that afternoon, wondering if they should make the journey at all.
“I feel strange about starting this trip,» he told his wife.
“But we’ve promised the believers we’d come,
“ Ellen responded.
To relieve their uncertainty. the young couple did what they usually did under such circumstances. They knelt and prayed, thanking God that He’d be traveling with them.
At the station James placed his trunk filled with printed religious materials in the baggage car and then the couple settled themselves in a coach. Ellen hadn’t been there more than a minute when she told her husband, “I can‘t stay here. I must find a new seat“
They moved to the last passenger car in the train. Even that didn’t make Ellen completely comfortable. “I don’t feel at home,» she admitted.
They’d traveled only three miles when BANG, BOOM, CRASH! a terrific jolt threw them forward in their seats. The car filled with choking dust, and then all was silent. James hurried out to see what had happened. The locomotive had hit an ox lying on the tracks, derailed, flipped over, and then come to rest—upside down. The cars immediately behind it had been crushed. But the last passenger car remained safely on the rails because the coupling pin, the device that linked train cars together in those days, had somehow slipped out. The brakeman said he hadn’t removed it. Perhaps a quick-thinking passenger had saved their lives. No one knows for sure.