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Altoona, Pennsylvania

Horseshoe Curve Train Wreck

February 18, 1947

At Least 20 Are Killed In Early Morning Wreck Of Pennsy’s “Red Arrow”

Altoona, Pa . Feb 18-AP- Coroner DANIEL REPLOGLE
of Altoona, said that “ at least 20 were killed” in the wreck of Pennsylvania railroad’s “Red Arrow”, Detroit to New York passenger train, 10 miles west of here early today.

The coroner said that 17 bodies had been taken out of the wreck, which occurred when the train jumped the track and sent the two engines, mail car, baggage car, coach and two sleepers plunging down the embankment, overturned the diner and two sleepers and derailed three other sleepers.

The dead included three members of the four-man engine crews -ENGINEMAN M. E. McCARDLE of Scottdale, Pa., FIREMAN R. H. HENRY of Derry, Pa., and FIREMAN J. M. PARASOK of Altoona

Other Identified Dead.

Other dead identified at the morgue included: SELICIA HAMLIK, Flint, Mich., PVT. GEORGE H STACY, Ft Dix, N.J., MRS. SADIE TAYLOR, New Castle, Del. And JOHN DRUMM, believed to be a soldier from DuBois, Pa.

A Pennsylvania railroad spokesman estimated “ about 80 persons” were injured.

The wreck of the Detroit-New York sleeper occurred at 3:25 am. The scene was about two miles west of “Horseshoe Curve” known to thousands for its beautiful view down a mountain valley.

Two Engines, 11 Cars Derailed

A railroad spokesman said two locomotives and 11 cars of the 14 car train were derailed, some rolling down an embankment.

The injured were rushed to hospitals at Altoona, where attendants became so busy they couldn’t count the casualties. Mercy and Altoona hospitals later reported they had a total of 85 casualties and more were arriving.

The accident disrupted all railroad telephone communications in the area, the spokesman said, increasing the difficulty of obtaining information and details.

The “Red Arrow” is one of the Pennsylvania’s crack passenger trains. It had eight sleepers, one diner, one coach and the rest baggage and mail cars.

TOM LYNAM, an Altoona photographer, said he saw three or four bodies lying around and injured passengers were moaning inside an overturned car.

“Weird Sight”

“I shone my flashlight inside and saw arms and legs sticking up” he said. “Some railroad workers with acetylene torches were cutting the wreckage to release passengers who were pinned down. The injured were being carried away on stretchers.

“One woman was calling for her daughter, who was in a car that went down a 100-foot embankment.

It was a pretty weird sight and made me feel shaky. My two brothers, who drove from Altoona with me, became so nervous they could hardly hold still.

Witnesses told of a clergyman, identified as the REV. LEIBERMAN, of Canton, O., praying and calming passengers in the car at the bottom of the embankment.

The casualties were removed to Altoona by train.

The lines two eastbound tracks were open, but the westbound pair were blocked Traffic was rerouted.

LYNAM said the wreck occurred on a long slope leading to Cresson Mountain----the highest and most picturesque of the Alleghenies. It’s altitude is 2,100 feet.

A railroad spokes man said this was the status of the train: plunged down the embankment--two engines, mail car, one passenger Baggabe [sic] car, a coach, two sleepers; overturned but remaining on embankment--- diner, two sleepers; derailed but upright.--- Three sleepers; still on rails---one sleeper, one coach one express car.

JOHN BAIR., Swarthmore, enroute to Gettysburg college, where he is a student, a passenger on the Jeffersonian, another Pennsy train, described the wreckage as “a big mess”.

The Gettysburg Times, Gettysburg, PA 18 Feb 1947

       

NEARLY ALL WRECK DEAD IDENTIFIED

By International News Service

ALTOONA, Feb 19.
Cambria County Coroner DANIEL REPLOGLE today announced that all but four persons killed in the wreck of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Red Arrow have been identified.

He said four women still remained unidentified after yesterday’s tragedy. He listed the following identified victims:
WILLIAM H. MOORE, Pittsburgh.
M. G. McARDLE,
Scottdale, engineer on second locomotive.
B. K. HENRY,
Derry, fireman on second locomotive.
J. L. Parasock,
Bellwood, fireman on first locomotive.
JOHN A. DRUM,
DeBois [sic]
PVT. GEORGE STACY,
Fort Dix, N.J.
MRS. SADIE TAYLOR,
New Castle, Del.
CHARLES O. STEINHART,
11, Tiffin, Ohio.
MRS. JULIA BUSCH,
Camden, N.J.
HOMER E. BOHRIER,
Lemoyne.
P. J. LEIDEN,
Altoona.
HOLLAND L. BOWMAN,
Mechanicsburg.
BYRON JACKMAN,
Philadelphia.
MRS. BERTHA KAZMARK,
Keansburg, N. J.
THEODORE KITTERIDGE,
Baltimore, Md.
J. V. LENESE,
Philadelphia.
MRS. LILLIAN PETTEGREE,
Bridgeton, N. J.
GEORGE C. BOWMAN,
Tyrone.
MRS. SAMUEL SAMARITANA,
Altoona.
MRS. RENNET,
address unknown.
MRS. LAURA DE JAIFFE,
Toledo, Ohio.

The Daily Courier, Connellsville, PA 19 Feb 1947

       

Twenty one persons were killed instantly in the wreck and the 22nd victim, GEORGE C. BOWMAN, 47, Tyrone, a mail clerk, died last night.

BOWMAN was pinned in the wreckage for hours before rescue workers extricated him by cutting through the steel mail car with acetylene torches. Although badly injured, he wrote out a will on a sheet of soiled paper and handed it to one of his rescuers to witness.

“ I always wanted to make out a will,” he explained, “ but I never got around to it.”

Three of the four crew members in the two engines were killed. The lone survivor was MICHAEL BILLIG, 53, the engineer of the lead engine. He was injured critically.

Among the most seriously injured were two members of a troupe of midgets. SOVENIA RIDDLE, 17, Andover, N. J., one of the midgets, was given a blood transfusion which doctors said saved her life. ADELLA NOWALK, 27, Nanticoke, another midget, also was in critical condition.

The Daily Courier, Connellsville, PA 19 Feb 1947

       

Twenty year old LAWRENCE ENGLISH of Midland, Mich., himself in a hospital with severe cuts and bruises, identified a tattered checked skirt, taken from a mutilated body, as that worn by his bride, of three days, DOROTHY, 22.

Identification of another victim as Mrs. Innocente Brunatti, 60 of Wyandotte, Mich., left only two battered bodies to be recognized. One of the victims was identified merely as MRS. RENNETI, no known address.

The Gettysburg Times, Gettysburg, PA 19 Feb 1947

       

Second Wreck Brings Death to Mail Clerk

By United Press

Philadelphia, Feb 19

BYRON M. JAKEMAN, 40-yr-old railway mail clerk, killed in the derailment of the “Red Arrow” train yesterday, had survived another train wreck 13 months ago.

Members of JAKEMAN’S family said he was pinned beneath a radiator in a mail car when a train was wrecked near Harrisburg, in January, 1946, and spent several days in a hospital recovering from injuries.

The Gettysburg Times, Gettysburg, PA 19 Feb 1947

       

McARDLE Rites Will Be Held Friday Morning

Scottdale, Feb 19
--The body of MICHAEL E. McARDLE, railroad engineer, who was killed early Tuesday morning in the Red Arrow wreck near Altoona, was removed from the wreckage at 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon.

Friends will be received at his home in Bridge street, where the funeral service will be held at 10 o’clock Friday morning in charge of REV. P. J. GRANEY of St John’s Church.

Interment will be in St. John’s Cemetery.

MR. McARDLE was a cousin of FELIX McARDLE of North Pittsbergh street, Connellsville, MISS ROSE McARDLE, of Latrobe, formerly of Connellsville, MRS. CHARLES RESHENBERG, of Brookvale

The Daily Courier, Connellsville, PA 19 Feb 1947

Articles transcribed by Edna Schlauch.  Thank you, Edna!

       

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