Castorland, NY Head On Collision, Feb 1926



Two Potsdam People On Train Uninjured.

The little station of Castorland, Lewis county, was the scene of one of the worst railroad wrecks in the entire history of the Northern New York division of the Central lines early last Thursday morning, a mere notice of which was given in these columns last week. For some unaccouontable reason Engineer WILLILAM BELL, piloting the fast early morning passenger train No. 59 running north from Utica with the New York sleepers failed to carry out orders in his possession. failed to heed the semaphore signal at the Castorland station, which had been set against him and but a short distance beyond both he and his fireman, J. E. QUINN, were killed when the train crashed head on onto a double-header freight. It may have been that Engineer BELL was taken suddenly ill, a heart attack or a stoke of paralysis, for it hardly seems possible that he would have failed in the line of duty after a splendid record of over twenty years.
Fortunately the alertness of WALLACE JONES, of Gouverneur, formerly of this place, an uncle of MRS. PERRY NICHOLS, brakeman on No. 59 undoubtedly prevented a more serious accident for as the passenger train flashed past the station he observed that the freight was not on the siding and that the semaphore was set against his train. He immediately pulled the emergency cord throwing on the air brakes an instant before the crash came. This act slightly diminished the momentum of the train.
Castorland is not a regular station stop on the morning run of No. 59 but Thursday morning the orders were to meet the freight of sixty cars and two engines there. Had the old wooden coaches been in use instead of the modern steel cars one can but imagine how horrible the wreck might have been. As it was only the two men were killed. Many of the passengers received minor injuries. DR. GRANT C. MADILL was in one of the sleepers and the impact of the crash threw him against the partition of his berth. Hastily dressing he grabbed his medical kit and started through the train giving first aid to the injured and quieting those who had become hysterical. Assemblywoman RHODA GRAVES and her husband were on board and were slightly injured.
The three locomotives were almost completely destroyed by the impact. Luckily the engineer and fireman on the first of the freight engines saw the oncoming passenger train just in time to jump. Their train had just come to a stop preparing to taking the siding in order to let No. 59 pass.
The baggage car and express-mail coach on the passenger were both derailed and turned on their sides but the remaining coaches and Pullmans of the passenger remained on the track. No New York mail or through service was received in Northern New York all day Thursday as a result of the accident.
Engineer BELL'S body was found on the deck of his engine with a rod driven through his head. The fireman's body lay near the fore-driving wheel of the locomotive, on the ground, with his head crushed into his body.
F. E. McCORMICK, assistant general manager of the New York Central, came orth in persons to conduct an investigation into the wreck.
MRS. GENEVIEVE McGEE, daughter of MR. and MRS. JAMES H. SULLIVAN and EMMETT CONNELLY, Potsdam, were on the train at the time of the wreck. Neither was injured.
WALLACE JONES is receiving much commendation for his timely action in applying the air brakes. At a coroners inquest the engineer and conductor were adjudged responsible for the accident.

Potsdam Herald Recorder New York 1926-02-26


Castorland Photograghs

Would be very interested in seeing your photographs. My great grandfather (my fathers grandfather) was an engineer on one of those trains. Again, my father and I would be very interested in seeing these photos.
Please contact via the email attached.

Thank you,

Castorland Collision

Was going through some photos today of relatives and ran across a few of a train wreck. On the back of one photo it was dated February 1926. I know my great uncle worked on the railroad in that area around that time. Amazing pic of the head-on collision in case anyone is interested. Also amazing that anyone survived it. Please contact me if you are interested in a copy. Am 99.9% certain it is the Castorland wreck.