Dunkirk, OH Passenger Train Wreck, Nov 1941



Dunkirk, Ohio, Nov. 10. -- (UP) -- Twelve persons were known dead today after a freak accident caused derailment of a crack Pennsylvania passenger train as the flyer roared through the central Ohio town last night at a speed of 70 miles an hour.
The speeding limited jumped the tracks, according to E. R. Gerard, general superintendent for the northwest division of the railroad, when a huge 1,000-pound cylinder head blown from a west-bound freight locomotive landed on the tracks in front of the speeding express and the passenger crew had no time to stop the train.
The failure of a valve mechanism was blamed for blowing the cylinder head. The two trains did not collide and the freight train coasted to a stop.
At least 42 persons were injured. The fast Chicago-New York train, "The Pennsylvanian" jumped the tracks almost directly in front of the small village depot as it sped through the night. The derailment occurred at 9:22 p.m. CST.
The locomotives flopped on its side and skidded for about 100 feet. The first coach was cut cleanly in two and piled up ahead of the locomotive. Part of the train smashed into and demolished a nearby signal tower. Several cars were telescoped into one another and the others were left in crazy zig zag positions along the right of way.
The train had eight coaches in all. A lounge car, a diner, and a combination baggage and smoking car also were smashed. The Pullmans, although derailed, were comparatively little damaged.
At Chicago, H. E. Newcomet, vice-president of the road, announced that a preliminary investigation indicated a cylinder head, blown from a freight train on an adjoining track, derailed the limited before there was time to flag it.
Railroad officials at the scene of the wreck announced that an investigation into the cause of the accident would be held at Fort Wayne, Ind., division headquarters, at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Ohio public utilities commission inspectors C. F. Parshall, of Marion, and Karl Kaig, of Findley, were at the scene.
A signal tower alongside the tracks was smashed and its splintered timber covered the locomotive and caught fire from the firebox. Within minutes it was blazing high.
Towerman Cliff Swartzkopf was in the tower but he escaped without injury, though he sufferred from shock.
"I really don't know what happened," he said. "I suddenly found I was on the rails with the wreckage piled all around me. Smoke from the locomotive just about covered me."
When it left Chicago at 5:40 p.m. it carried 77 passengers and a crew of 20. It had made stops at Fort Wayne, Ind., and Lima, Ohio, and there was no way of ascertaining at once how many passengers fot off and got on there.
The injured were taken at first into the town's little station. Ambulances arrived quickly from the nearby towns of Findlay, Lima, and Bluffton and they were taken to hospitals there. None was critically hurt, though many had painful wounds. Included among them were two soldiers on leave from Chanute Field, Ill.

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