Thursday September 26, 1985
Pix #1 - Photo taken at CHV&T railroad station at Pomeroy in 1888 shows a steam locomotive of the same type which participated in the staged collision at Buckeye Park in 1896, as described in today's article.
Pix #2 - Paul J. Koebel, Columbus, retired C&O employee, and supplier of data for today's article.
Pix #3 - Willard Richardson, 932 Leonard St., retired employee of CHV&T and C&O and the one who first provided tip for article.
This is a true story about the planned collision of two steam locomotives in the year 1896...just as the headline says. Both were scheduled for retirement from service.
Probably an often repeated story in the last 75 years, I first heard about it several years ago from Willard Richardson, 932 Leonard St., when we were reminiscing about railroad days of the past. He was an employee of the Columbus, Hocking Valley & Toledo, and later the C&O...and I am an old railroad fan, always ready to talk about railroads.
Richardson said he had a good story for Potluck. He thought he could get a copy of the article that once appeared in the Logan paper, where he previously lived. He was never able to find it, but I hoped somehow, someday it would come my way.
COMPLETE DETAILS BECAME AVAILABLE
In May, my hopes were fulfilled when the Chessie News published a very short story about it, excerpted from complete details prepared by Paul J. Koebel Sr., another retired C&O employee, living in Columbus.
Finally, I was able to get a complete copy of Koebel's article, along with the photo of another steam locomotive of the same vintage as the two that were destroyed in the planned collision between two retired CHV&T (Columbus Hocking Valley & Toledo) locomotives.
"Early in 1896, Mr. A.L. Streeter, a former passenger conductor on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad, concluded an agreement with the CHV&T stipulating that the collision would take place as the opening feature season at Buckeye Park.
LOCOMOTIVE DECORATED FOR BIG OCCASION
"The two retired locomotives were repaired and gaudily painted for the event. Engine 12 (Hinkley 1870) wore the name W.H. Fisher on its tender (named for the General Passenger Agent of CHV&T). Engine 21 (Hinkley 1872) became the A.L. Streeter. During May, the two engines toured the entire line to advertise the coming attraction."
"The railroad made a sweeping curve immediately in front of the park, and the special track for the event paralleled this curve. At 4:15 p.m., Streeter announced that the crowd would have to get behind the ropes some 300 feet from the track."
"Engineer P.J. Clancey and Fireman H.E. Arnold backed the W.H. Fisher (Engine 12) 3,300 feet south, while Engineer J.D. Loomis and Fireman William Booth retreated the A.L. Streeter (Engine 21) 3,000 feet north. Receiving the signal, the movement of the engines gave notice that the auspicious moment was at hand."
"Steaming toward each other on a single track, the iron steeds rounded the curve and came charging like demons bent on each other's destruction. Of course, the engineers and firemen jumped off as soon as the throttles were open."
"The exhilarated crowd watched breathlessly as the two trains crashed together, coming to a rest with thir boilers pointing toward the sky."
"The W.H. Fisher ran 3,300 feet in a minute and 20-seconds from a dead stop, achieving a speed of 52 miles per hour at the point of collision. The A.L. Streeter ran 3,000 feet in the same time, reaching the collision point at 50 miles per hour, for an impact speed of 102 miles per hour."
"While experiences varied among the 20,000 or so spectators who witnessed this thrilling event, the general expression was one of complete satisfaction."
SPECTATOR INJURED BY FLYING METAL
"There was only one unfortunate feature of the collision: Tom C. Peck was seriously injured when a piece of iron from a journal box hit him in the leg. Peck, chief clerk in the general passenger department, received a compound fracture, even though he was 300 feet from the track in the roped-off area, he was taken by private car to Columbus. Dr. E.J. Wilson was called and he found that the fracture extended to the knee and that the splintered bone protruded through the flesh. Mr. Peck recovered, but lived with a stiff leg."
"Overall, a railway success was scored. Interest in the affair remained high the following week, so all trains stopped at Buckeye Park to allow the passengers to get a glimpse of the remains before, they were cleared away."
That's the elusive story I had intended to relate to readers earlier. Many opportunities come to those who wait patiently.
READER FEEDBACK: FRED ILER COMES TO TOWN
Readers will remember that Fred Iler, a descendent of the Ilers who settled in Iler, and after whom the village was named, made contacts in Fostoria after the Iler articles were published.
Fred and his wife visited Fostoria recently and stopped to visit with me.
I asked Fred how he happened to be a resident of Westbrook, Maine...so far from Fostoria. He said he went to Maine for a visit and liked it so well he decided to stay.
Of course he met the girl whom he married, that may have had something to do with his decision.
Fred is a firefighter at Westbrook. Before he departed he left a copy of part of the genealogy of the Ilers that he is compiling.
During his visit here he mentioned he had been to Paulding. I started to tell him I knew a person there, but before I could speak his name he said... "I bet I knew who...Ed Hamman, the well-known personage in baseball". He was right.
I am writing about Hamman now, and the article will start soon. Small world.