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Today, August 25, in Rochester History: Railroad Disaster Claims 29; Injures 62

August 25th, 2011

Scene of terrible disaster on Lehigh Valley Railroad near Rochester N.Y. on August 25, 1911. [PHOTO: A. Newman, Copyright 1911]
One of the deadliest accidents* in our area’s history took place exactly 100 years ago today. 29 people were killed and 62 injured when a Lehigh Valley Railroad train derailed about 20 miles east of Rochester. According to investigators at the time, it was a defective rail on a 400 foot bridge in Manchester, NY that shattered into seventeen pieces and sent at least 3 of the cars into Canandaigua Outlet. Newspaper reports described the scene as a “twisted and splintered mass of wreckage.”

An engineering reportexternal link by the Bureau of Standards detailed the events leading up to the accident…

28 passsengers and 1 employee were killed. [PHOTO: A. Newman, Copyright 1911]

“Train No. 4, east-bound, left Buffalo, N. Y. at 10:35 A. M., 40 minutes late. It consisted of twelve cars, and was hauled by engines Nos. 2476 and 1804. At Rochester Junctionexternal link, a station 20 miles west of the point of accident, two additional cars were picked up, so that at the time of the accident there were fourteen cars in the train, in the following order: One express car, one mail car, one baggage car, four coaches, Pullman sleeper Austin, dining car, two coaches, parlor car Emelyn, and two coaches.
The train was derailed by a broken rail, 247 feet west of a steel girder deck bridge in Manchester (about 20 miles east of Rochester).Several of the derailed cars fell off this rail bridge into the Canandaigua Outlet.

On approaching the west end of Manchester Yard, train No. 4 found the signals at caution, and, being required by rule not to exceed a speed of twenty-five miles per hour through this yard, the speed was reduced accordingly.

On arriving at the east end of the yard, all of the blocks being clear, the enginemen of both engines began to use steam in order to increase the speed of the train, so that at the time of the accident the train was probably not exceeding a speed of about 25 miles per hour.”

Lehigh Valley coach No. 237, the 10th car in the train, resting on its side in the bed of the Outlet. Lehigh Valley coach No. 293, the 11th car, is standing on one end. [PHOTO: A. Newman, Copyright 1911]

“The train was derailed by a broken rail, 247 feet west of a steel girder deck bridge spanning Canandaigua Outlet, causing the death of 27 passsengers and 1 employee, and injuries to 59 passengers and 4 employees. One of the injured passengers died afterwards, making a total of 29 persons killed and 62 injured.”

The Pullman sleeping car 'Austin' leaning on its side. In the background the Lehigh Valley coach No. 293 is standing on one end in the bed of the Outlet, and resting against the corner of the parlor car 'Emelyn' on the bridge. [PHOTO: A. Newman, Copyright 1911]

“The two engines and the first five cars were not derailed. Grand Trunk coach No. 2187, the sixth car in the train, had one truck derailed, while all of the following cars were derailed. The Pullman sleeping car Austin was leaning over to the right; the dining car was down the embankment on its side, just east of the bridge; Lehigh Valley coach No. 237, the 10th car in the train, was resting on its side in the bed of the Outlet, 40 feet below; Lehigh Valley coach No. 293, the 11th car, was standing on one end in the bed of the Outlet, the rear end of it extending about 15 feet above the top of the bridge and resting against the corner of the parlor car Emelyn, which remained on the bridge. The majority of the fatalities were in coaches Nos. 237 and 293, both of which were of wooden construction.”

Emergency crews pull the injured passengers to safety. [PHOTO: A. Newman, Copyright 1911]

An article printed in the Syracuse Herald on August 26, 1911, made public the following list of the 29 individuals who perished:

In Rochester morgue:
Unknown Woman, died at Hahnemann hospital this morning.
W.P. RUNDLE, Easton, Pa., died this morning.
HARRY BEAKER, trainman, Waverly, N.Y.
E.M. Bell, veteran, Los Angeles, Cal.

In morgue at Shortsville:
MRS. A ZUBECK, Buffalo.
T.C. MADDEN, No. 628 North Olden Avenue, Trenton, N.J.
MRS. C.F. JOHNSON, Cleveland, O.
CHARLES HICKS, Newark, N.J.
MRS. I.S. UNCLE, Smithfield, N.J.
JOSEPH HICKEY, Philadelphia, Pa.
ELLEN E. BROWNELL, Newton, Pa.
C.P. JOHNSON, Philadelphia.
A.M. HUNSICKER, Vineland, Ont.
E. PANGBURN, Brooklyn.
HELEN E. POWALL, address unknown.
Unknown woman, about 30, blonde hair, blue eyes, blue serge suit.
Unknown woman, initials “E.H.” on clothing.
Unknown woman, 30, initials “C.H.” on stickpin.
Unknown woman, initials “E.T.P.” on clothing.
Unknown woman, gold band ring engraved “Minnie, November 28th, ’83.”
MRS. FREDERICK A. WINKLER, 55, Philadelphia.
REBECCA A. DANERLITT, 55, Niagara Falls.
EDGAR B. ANDERSON, 62 Brooklyn, N. Y.
Unknown woman, 35 or 40 years old.
Unknown woman, dark hair, about 175 pounds in weight.
Unknown woman, 40, dark hair.
Unknown boy, about 12 years old.
MRS. EMILY HILL was the unknown woman who died at the Hahnemann hospital this morning.
WILLIS RUNDELL, mail clerk, 49, died at Homcopathic hospital, Easton, Pa.
MISS RANDALL, Niagara Falls, at the General hospital, is dying.
MR. DRAPER at the General hospital, is dying.
MRS. ESTHER or MABEL LAWRENCE, is unconscious at Hanneman hospital and will die.

*OTHER NOTABLE U.S. RAIL ACCIDENTS:
In July of 1918, 101 people were killed in a 2-train collision near Nashville, TN. Four months later a derailment of a NYC subway train left 92 dead in Brooklyn. More…external link

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2011 at 10:55 pm and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Train/Railroad Stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

17 Responses to “Today, August 25, in Rochester History: Railroad Disaster Claims 29; Injures 62”

  1. Trevor Bailey says:

    I lived in Manchester for over 20 years and never knew this. Very sad to read.

  2. @Trevor,
    I was amazed to find this story myself. I wonder if there’s any sort of marker at the site? Next time I’m out that way I’m stopping to check it out!

  3. Stephanie Hartsock says:

    I DID NOT KNOW OF THIS HAPPENING.

  4. Joe McInyre says:

    I never heard of this accident before. I cannot place where the yards in Manchester cross the Canandiagu outlet.My Dad (Tricky Mickey) worked in the Manchester Yards for 48 years, never herd him metio it.

  5. twoeightnine says:

    I grew up in Manchester (well, Shortsville but we’re the same place) the tracks cross the outlet directly behind Bliss Shurfine. As far as I know there’s no markers or anything. I’ll have to check next time I’m in the area.

  6. @twoeightnine, Let us know if you find one.

  7. Andrea says:

    Surprised at how many killed were “unknown”

  8. James says:

    I could have sworn that I saw a news story some time ago on local news about researchers diving the Upperfalls/Highfalls to document a train down there? Any one know if this is true. Did a train wrech ever end up there?

  9. @James, I haven’t heard of this but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Any idea when it might have occurred? I can check into it but a timeframe would be very helpful.

  10. @James, I’ve heard of Niagara Falls being partially shut down for things like that. Is it possible you’re thinking of Niagara? A few quick searches for news stories about High Falls turned up nothing for me.

  11. make accident claim…

    [...]RochesterSubway.com : Today, August 25, in Rochester History: Railroad Disaster Claims 29; Injures 62[...]…

  12. Rachel says:

    I know this is an old post but I just wanted to say that I remember editing photos of this wreck for RMSC when I interned there. It’s interesting to finally know the story behind the pictures.

  13. @Rachel, sounds like a very cool job for an intern. Probably the amazing Albert Stone collection?

  14. Rachel says:

    Yep. I believe it was his collection. I promise you though it was not a cool job – with the exception of the occasional crime scene or train wreck (nothing graphic). I had to go through and crop and adjust the contrast settings on hundreds of scanned images. I developed a deep respect for the RMSC though.

  15. Well it was very important work and I thank you for it!

  16. Melissa Jones says:

    I’ve lived in Shortsville my whole life (32) years, and just learned of this last year. There is now markers at the site. There is now a public walking trail that leads right to it. Amazing but sad piece of history for such a small town. If you ever go there, you will notice the rock material of the bridge is wider than normal. They removed the damaged track section and laid a new one right next to it.

  17. Interesting Melissa. Thank you! Can you believe in just five days it will be 103 years? Time flies!


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