The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America’s Deadliest Avalanche

Gary Krist

Stories of people trapped on snow-covered mountains are fascinating, even when cannibalism isn’t involved. In this fast-moving narrative, Gary Krist covers a mostly forgotten event, in which—following an intense series of storms—two trains were trapped on the side of a mountain in Washington in 1910. Close to running out of food, water and coal, the trains were hit—and crushed—by a devastating avalanche that killed about 100 people. Relying on extensive research (newspapers, letters, diaries and court transcripts from subsequent lawsuits), Krist brings to life the people on the train, their families and the railroad men. He argues that this was one of a series of disasters—including the 1912 sinking of the Titanic—that ushered in reforms in safety and technology and controls on industry.