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Death on the Rails: Remembering 49

Fatal Railroad & Streetcar Casualties

See also Military Casualties - Water, Fire and Vehicle Accident Casualties - Accidental Workplace Deaths in the Manufacturing, Mining & Metals Industries

 

Railroads and streetcars have been linchpins of our nation's transportation system and broader economy. Far too many unfortunate cousins have lost their lives in related accidents, in the workplace or in private activity, starting in the year 1869.

Three have been women. A vast majority have occurred in Pennsylvania (28), West Virginia (6) and Ohio (5). This page identifies each name and tells each story -- in chronological order -- so they will not be forgotten

 

~ Name ~
Place ~
~ Year ~

Jordan M. Nesmith

Connellsville, PA - run over by a moving railcar - nothing more known. 1869

Hiram B. Hanshaw

Preston County, WV - Said to have been killed in a railroad accident of some type, although this needs to be confirmed. 1870

James E. Hanshaw

Independence, WV - a newspaper said he had "driven a hog from the track and was in the act of mounting the platform at the station when he was struck by the [Cincinnati Express] train, throwing him under the cars and mangling him in a shocking manner." 1870

Uriah Minor

Leavittsburg, OH - While at work walking between two railcars in order to uncouple them, he gave the signal for the locomotive to back up, but when it did so, it struck the coupled cars. The jolt "caused him to fall across the rail," read an official report. He "was caught by [the] wheel of [the] car, dragging him thirty feet." July 16, 1874

David J. Rowan

Ohiopyle, PA - A report said that he and another man "were watchmen on several miles of track, and at one time, because of the illness of his companion, he was on duty day and night for a week. He became greatly fatigued and worn out from loss of sleep, and while sitting on the track eating his lunch, fell over in a sleeping stupor and was killed by an express train." June 29, 1876
Watson Kerr - family of Hesther "Esther" (Gaumer) Shirer New Concord, OH - Said the Cincinnati Enquirer, he" was bringing a load of produce to town with a spirited team of young horses when they became frightened at a train of cars near the crossing, west of this place, and, starting to run across the railroad, the engine caught the wagon, demolishing it and throwing Mr. Kerr so violently out as to fracture his skull and produce other injuries that proved fatal in a few hours." June 16, 1881
George W. Menefee Potter, NE - Fell from a moving train and was killed while it was braking. Aug. 11, 1895

Unidentified Hanshaw - family of Catherine (Miner) Hanshaw *

Said to have been killed in a railroad accident of some type, although this needs to be confirmed. ?

Elmer E. Moon - family of Enoch Miner Sr.

Rockwood, PA - was "ground to death" in a railroad collision at Rockwood, Somerset County, according to a local news account. Aug. 19, 1902

John J.P. Hoye

Dunbar, PA - killed by a train arriving from Fairmont, WV. Said the Connellsville Weekly Courier, "A number of small boys saw Hoye shortly before he was killed. They say they made an effort to get him off the track, knowing that No. 51 was about due. Hoye was struck near the brick yards, one of the most dangerous places in the county, and a point where more people have been killed than any other. At the point, however, there is no need to walk on either the Pennsylvania or Baltimore & Ohio tracks since there is a public road and a fairly good street on both sides." Dec. 1, 1902

Howard Minerd

Hunker, PA - A stone quarry laborer, was killed by a moving locomotive. "Being cold," said the Connellsville Daily Courier, he " started across the track to a brick yard to get warm. Just as he reached the track local freight came rapidly around the curve. Minerd was paralyzed with fear. He stood stalk still on the track until the engine struck him." Nov. 28, 1904
Charles Manbeck - family of Martha "Jane" (Minard) Manbeck Alliance, OH - Was a brakeman with the Pittsburgh and Fort Wayne Railroad on a route known as the "Penn Lines." Fell from a freight train and "was instantly killed…" said the Cadiz Republican. "His mangled remains were brought home Monday and laid to rest..." Jan. 8, 1905

William Osborne Minerd

Connellsville, PA - Was a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad flagman for 17 years when he was was found lying along the tracks. Said the Connellsville Daily Courier, "He was then in a dying condition and all that he could say ... was that he slipped. He was too weak to give an account of the accident. The hospital ambulance was hastily summoned, and he was removed to the hospital, but his injuries were fatal and he died shortly after arriving there... He began railroading at an early age, having worked on all the different branches of the road." Jan. 3, 1906

William "Clifford" Mayle - family of Rachel (Minerd) Mayle

Said to have been killed in a railroad accident of some type, although this needs to be confirmed. Feb. 16, 1907

Eldora "Elizabeth" Miner

Connellsville, PA - While visiting her father at his workplace, the Davidson Works of H.C. Frick Coke Co., she "stepped backward upon another track and was run down and almost instantly killed by a switching engine," reported the Connellsville Daily Courier. "The crew of the switching engine saw the girl and her companions standing along the track but Miss Miner stepped back so quickly that it was impossible to check the speed of the engine. She was struck and knocked from the track..." Sept. 25, 1907

Thomas Flanigan - family of Mary (Ream) Flanigan

Confluence, PA - Struck by a moving locomotive while walking along the tracks. Said the the Meyersdale Republican, he was "run down and instantly killed by the Duquesne Limited train.. at Huston Station, near Confluence.... The fast train, being over two hours late, was running on the east-bound instead of the west-bound track, and was unseen by Flannigan, whose back was turned." April 11, 1908

William C. Kennell - family of Christena (Emerick) Burkett

Foustwell, PA - Employed by the B&O, was a fireman on a pipe train which collided head-on with an oncoming freight train. The trains lifted upward, with hot water and steam from the boilers scalding him and others "from head to feet," said the Meyersdale Republican. "Their pain was intense and their yells could be heard for a long distance.... Kennell was scalded and both legs were ground off. He also had deep cuts in his head and his skull was probably fractured." June 23, 1910

Deforest "Ralph" Coon Sr. - family of John Adam Sturtz Jr.

Deer Lodge, MT - Was a conductor with the Chicago, Milwaukee and Puget Sound Railroad. At the end of a run, "he fell from the top of the caboose," said the Missoula Missoulian. "The caboose was standing on a bridge, so that his fall was a distance of about 40 feet into the river below. It was not thought at first that Mr. Coon was seriously injured, as he was able to walk to the hospital with a little assistance, complaining only of being cold, owing to the fall in the river. At midnight a hemorrhage developed..." Nov. 12, 1912

Jonas Beal - family of Lydia (Emerick) Beal

Cumberland, MD - While at work in the B&O yards near Oldtown Road, was struck by a moving engine which was in the process of shifting tracks. "His head was crushed and legs broken," reported the Cumberland Evening Times. Dec. 27, 1912

Warren H. Younkin - family of Zobeida Jane (Ream) Younkin

Salisbury Junction, PA - Killed while trying to board a moving freight train at Salisbury Junction, en route to attend a fair at Meyersdale, when he fell between cars and was crushed under the moving wheels. Sept. 10, 1913

Isaac Wortman

Hazelwood, PA - Reported the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, he "was killed instantly when he fell between two cars while at work on the Monongahela Connecting Railroad at Hazelwood yesterday afternoon. Wortman was a [B&O] conductor and was walking on the tops of some cars when he fell." Jan. 12, 1914

James W. Farabee

Woodville, PA - En route from Hackney to Pittsburgh, was struck and killed by a moving passenger train on the Chartiers Valley Railroad. The Waynesburg Republican said that "had started to Pittsburgh, but got off the train at Woodville for some purpose. He started to cross the railroad track and stopped in front of a fast train, whose approach he had failed to notice. He was dead when picked up, both legs being broken and his skull was crushed, besides other injuries. He was unidentified, and his body was taken to the Pittsburgh morgue on the next train. It was not known that it was Farabee who had been killed until Saturday, when two of his brothers, Clinton and Oliver Farabee, of Morrisville, went to the city in search of him and visited the morgue, where they identified his body." Jan. 12, 1915

Louis Kerchensteiner - family of Catherine Ann "Caty" (Comp) Sarver

Sand Patch, PA - Employed as a track walker by the B&O, he was killed while at work in the Sand Patch yards. The Meyersdale Republican reported that he "stepped out of the way of a switching engine and got in front of another engine on the adjoining track, whose approach he did not notice on account of the noise made by the engine he avoided." Oct. 25, 1915

Albert L. Freese

Wooster, OH - A flagman on the Pennsylvania Railroad, was struck and killed by a moving engine. His skull was fractured at the base, and he died within an hour. July 27, 1916

William Rose

Confluence, PA - Was struck and killed by a railroad train while on his way to work at the Laurel Mining Company. The Meyersdale Republican reported that he was "on the Western Maryland Railway about a mile West of Confluence on Monday morning. He was employed by the Laurel Mining Co. at Shipley station, near where his body was found." Dec. 4, 1916

Stephen Robbins

Connellsville, PA - While walking along a busy sidewalk, was struck by a moving West Penn Railways streetcar. Said the Connellsville Daily Courier, "Witnesses said he stepped from the curb a few feet above the Arcade Theatre, just as the car was passing. He was not touched by the wheels. The headlight of the car was broken, the man's head probably hitting against it. The fender kept him from going under the wheels, and his fractured skull was the only injury, aside from being bruised by the force of the fall." Nov. 16, 1917

Norman Prinkey - family of Harriet Ann (Nicklow) Prinkey

Connellsville, PA - Was a railroad brakeman for the Davidson Works of the H.C. Frick Coke Co. Reported the Connellsville Daily Courier, "his foot slipped in the snow, throwing him under a moving freight train. Before his signal to stop could be given the engineer, Felix McArdle, the wheels of the coke car had decapitated the unfortunate man." Dec. 13, 1917

James Harbaugh

Confluence, PA - A B&O track repairman, was killed at work. The Connellsville Courier said he stepped "on the eastbound track to let a freight train pass [and] was struck yesterday morning at Huston station, near Confluence, by train No. 6... He was thrown about 20 feet from the track and was dead when picked up by the train crew." Jan. 16, 1920

Charles W. Houchins - family of Charles Addison Dillow

Bloomington, IL - Laboring in the shops of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, "a crane chain broke and fell, striking him squarely on top of the head, while he was at work with a companion in the coal chutes," reported the Clinton Daily Public. "A part of the hat which he was wearing at the time ... was driven into his head. Mr. Houchins was conscious all of the time, the terrible blow not even rendering him unconscious." Oct. 1922

John David Evans

Allison Park, PA - Was caught in a freak accident at work and suffered second and third degree burns of his left thigh and left hand. The Pittsburgh Post reported that "The last cold spell was the indirect cause of another death recorded at the coroner's office last night... Evans' overalls ignited at Allison Park ... when a sudden gust of wind blew the flames toward him from a bundle of oily waste burning on a shovel which he was holding. Evans ... was endeavoring to thaw a frozen pipe on his engine when the accident occurred." Jan. 26, 1924

Charles H. Smalley

Ohiopyle, PA - He had made stops to obtain mail at the post office and to purchase groceries at the store of R.W. Whipkey Company. While heading home, his horse was startled by a noise, and bolted toward the railroad crossing. At the same time, a B&O locomotive was bearing down on the crossing. He managed to turn the horse away, but his sled crossed into the path of the train, demolishing the sled, and killing him instantly. Dec. 2, 1924

Andrew Jackson Harbaugh - family of Winfield "Scott" Harbaugh

Braddock, PA - The county coroner wrote that the "body severed and arms and right leg due to being run over by a train, prob. accidentally." Dec. 24, 1925

John L. Strauch

Clarksville, PA - He fell, said the Uniontown Morning Herald, "between two railroad cars while working on the Monongahela Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.... [He] had worked for the railroad for a number of years, at one time working out of the Rainey yards here, and was employed in the Brownsville section at the time of his death. The crew was shifting cars when the accident occurred." June 6, 1926

Charles J. Addis

Uniontown, PA - Was struck and killed by a B&O train bound from Pittsburgh to Clarksburg, WV. The Uniontown Daily News Standard reported that he “was said to have been walking along the tracks picking up pieces of coal at the time of the accident. The engineer saw the man and after blowing the whistle in an attempt to warn the victim, tried to bring the fast train to a stop. Death was instant." Jan. 27, 1927

John M. Weaver

Salisbury Junction, PA - While at work as a conductor, was “struck by the engine of passenger train No. 13,” said the Meyersdale Republican. “His body was badly mangled, the neck and both arms being broken.” The coroner reported that "Struck by passing train. Head crushed. Both arms double fracture. Left leg fractured. Also neck broken (accidental)." Oct. 7, 1927

Elzie "Burley" Mayle - family of Emily Jane (Minerd) Mayle

Cecil, WV - Was struck and killed by a moving train, dying of a fractured skull. The Grafton Sentinel said that he was "sleeping across the track on the opposite side from the locomotive engineers" and that "physicians believed him to be under the influence of intoxicants at the time he fell asleep on the railroad track." Sept. 21, 1930

William G. Miner

Morgantown, WV - After possibly suffering a stroke on a streetcar bound for Sabraton, he got off the car without assistance. Reported the Morgantown Dominion News, he "apparently slipped from the platform and under the car, his left leg protruding inside the rail... The car was started [again], but Miner's cries quickly brought a stop... Some said he had reached up to pat a little child leaning from a car window when the car started and that he slipped and lost his balance, the car pinning his leg between the platform and trucks. Others said one wheel ran over the leg below the knee." Aug. 6, 1932

Robert Edward Lee Jennings

Newell, PA - Was a track foreman with the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. On his way to work, Robert had stopped at an improvised box-car on a siding, which he used as a shelter in inclement weather, to store his lunch and start a fire. His oil-saturated clothing ignited and he was incinerated, dying at the spot about a mile from home. The Connellsville Daily Courier said his body had been found "in a lonely tool shanty constructed out of a box car, ... "burned to a crisp." March 28, 1934

William E. Singer

Indianapolis, IN - While walking across the street at the corner of Alabama and East Washington, he was struck by a streetcar. His skull was crushed, and combined with internal injuries, he died instantly. Aug. 27, 1935

Newton R. "Sonny" Mayle Jr. - family of Rachel (Minerd) Mayle

Mingo Junction, OH - Slipped while trying to hop onto a moving train, and his foot became caught in the wheels. Death was due to a "skull fracture [and] traumatic amputation of lower right leg," wrote a physician. July 30, 1944

Reuben Warren Birch - family of Samuel William Birch

Hooversville, PA - Was killed when accidentally struck by a freight train, fracturing and crushing his skull, with the coroner ruling that the death was accidental. March 8, 1947

Paul Lewis Falkenstine - family of Victoria (Martin) Falkenstine

Fairmont, WV - A bookkeeper and/or salesman a wholesale food business in Fairmont, he died after "throwing him self under a freight train on the Gaston Junction Bridge at Fairmont," said the county coroner. The Fairmont Times noted that he was "near the center of the railroad bridge crossing the Monongahela river near the forks of Tygart Valley river and the West Fork river ... commonly known as the Johnstown bridge... There is a walkway through the length of the center of the bridge. The engine crew saw a man standing on the walkway as the engine passed. The man went under the wheels of the train about 10 cars back from the engine and was crushed to death." April 21, 1949

Vera F. (Sibbitt) Shanklin Pitman - family of William Gaumer

Frankfort, IN - While at a crossing of the Nickel Plate freight train of the Lake Erie Division, she was struck by a passing engine. The Lafayette Journal and Courier said that the "train, heading west into the local yards, was brought to a stop a block and a half west of the crossing... The body had been thrown about 20 feet west of the tracks when trainmen reached the scene. Members of the family stated that Mrs. Pitman was walking home from a grocery, a distance of one block, when the accident occurred. She apparently became confused and stepped in front of the train." Aug. 19, 1949

Norman M. Strauch

McKeesport, PA - Employed as a conductor for the B&O. Was struck by a moving freight train in the Demmler yards. Suffering from a crushed left leg and amputated right foot, he was rushed to McKeesport Hospital, where he "was pronounced dead upon arrival," said the Connellsville Daily Courier. July 24, 1949
Carlton L. Shumaker - family of Josiah Emerick Employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, while on a run near Altoona, PA, fell from a moving freight car near the Gallitzin Tunnel, with the train then passing over his body, severing his right leg at the hip and the left leg at the knee.
Oct. 16, 1953

Jacob W. "Tug" Miner

Philippi, WV - Was struck and his skull fractured by an eastbound B&O coal train on a curve near Philippi High School. The Barbour Democrat said that the "coal drag consisted of about 100 cars and three diesel units, and according to the train crew, blasts from the engine's air horn failed to attract the man's attention, and the engineer was unable to stop before striking him. His right shoe apparently caught in the sand pipe of the engine and his body was dragged down the tracks for some seven car lengths before the unit could be stopped. Minor is said to have suffered from partial deafness." March 1, 1958

Justin Nicholas Dilley - family of Elizabeth Ann "Lydia" (Turner) Heltebran Colosino

Hyndman, PA - Struck and killed by a CSX train after tripping while trying to run across tracks near a railroad bridge south of town. July 10, 2012

Lisa Marie (Anderson) Lees - family of William Stewart McKnight

Charleroi, PA - When walking along the Norfolk Southern Railroad lines near Railroad Way and Seventh Street, was struck and killed by a northbound coal train. Aug. 22, 2019

Colin Robson Younkin - families of Alfred Arthur Younkin and Lillian Rhoads

Springville, UT - Rushing to catch a bus, he tried to cross a railroad track near his home as he had done hundreds of times before. This time, while crossing on an angle, he was struck and thrown, instantly killed by a 150,000-ton coal train moving at 40 miles per hour. A news story in the Provo (UT) Daily Herald quoted a police officer, saying that as Colin was crossing “There was a train coming, the lights were flashing, the crossing arms were down, and there were a couple of cars stopped for the train on both sides of the tracks... He didn’t quite make it all of the way..." June 1, 2021
     

* Needs to be confirmed

   

 

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