Black Hand, OH train wreck, Mar 1890


Serious Disaster at Black Hand, Ohio, to a B. and O. Train.

A Large Rock Rolls on the Track, Ditching the Coaches.

One Man Killed, Two Fatally Hurt and Others Severely Injured.


NEWARK, Ohio, March 14. - Special Telegram. - There was a terrific wreck, involving loss of life as well as serious injury to several passengers and train employes, on the Trans-Ohio Division of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at precisely 12:30 o'clock Thursday night, which accident occured nine miles east of Newark, to the west-bound Chicago limited vestibule train.

This is the Baltimore and Ohio's fast vestibuled train from New York, Baltimore, and Washington for the West. The train pulled out of Baltimore Thursday forenoon on time, and from Washington likewise at 11:20 in the forenoon, with a large number of west-bound passengers. All went well throughout the day run westward, and at Grafton, W. Va., the "limited" pulled into the depot promptly on time, 7:10 o'clock p. m. At this point another engine took the train and was soon whirling around the curves between Grafton and Benwood.

Leaving Benwood in charge of Conductor Raymond, with Engineer Hart at the throttle and with Fireman Boland looking after the fire-box, the train made its speedy run westward, stoping at Cambridge and Barnesville, Ohio. With only the necessary stop at Zanesville the journey was resumed to reach this city on time, viz, 10:48 a. m.


in the jet-black darkness of night, around the curves and through the cuts and over the trestles, at the rate of at least forty miles an hour.

Down in the valley, where the station known as Black Hand is located, and about ten miles east of this city, No. 5 dashed by and cleared the switches. Engineer Hart evidently "let her out," so to speak, and in a moment the train was whirling along as briskly as ever. Everybody in the Pullman sleepers was asleep. In the ladies' coach were perhaps twenty passengers, whilst in the smoking car were at least as many more travelers, nearly all of whom were asleep, little imagining that danger was near at hand.

About two miles west of Black hand, with the train speeding along around the curves and through the cuts at a forty-five mile an hour speed, suddenly a terrific crash and stoppage came, which for the instant seemed virtually to paralyze the passengers. In less time than it occupies to write these words passengers were piled one upon the other. Women and children shrieked at the top of their voices; strong men seemingly lost their nerve, and instantly the train was running at a break neck speed over the road-bed ties.

When the train came to a stand-still the ladies' car, in which THE INTER OCEAN reporter was located, was lying nearly upon its side. All was confusion. Nobody seemed possessed of reason, and a general scramble was made for the door leading through the vestibule connecting the coach with the Pullman sleeper "Ulva."


Women were shrieking wildly. A mother with a babe asleep in her arms and two other children tugging at her skirts was nearly frantic, whilst the brakeman, who had been sitting in a rear seat, was shouting at the top of his voice, "For God's sake, won't some one assist me to get outside with my red light to stop train 103, just ten minutes behind us?"

The door leading from the ladies' coach to the Pullman "Ulva" was wedged tight. Four strong men failed to open it, but the brakeman, noble young man that he is, with his red lantern crawled through the window, dropped down at least eight feet to the ground, and then ran like an antelope down the track eastward to stop the train so near at hand.

All was chaos in the train. Passengers looked out of the windows upon something in flames, which proved afterward to be burning coals from the wrecked engine, which monster machine lay bottom side up in the river not ten feet from the side of the ladies' coach.

A man with nearve and presence of mind, whom your correspondent has since learned to be Edmund Morton Smith, Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms of the Republican National Committee (who was en route to Chicago from Washington), in a [sic] voice, beseeched everybody to be calm and endeavor to make a safe exit into the Pullman coach. His advice was heeded, and in a few moments Mr. Smith, hatless and coatless, and severely injured, was leading the women and children from the nearly overturned car into the Pullman through a small hole left between the vestibule connecting these cars.

An investigation as to the loss of life followed, and the


was made of the body of Michael Boland, the fireman, lying beneath the smoking car. Mr. Smith, with a lantern, assisted by others, pulled the lifeless body from the debris. Then an engineer, by name Moore, who was riding as "deadhead" in the engine, was discovered lying nearly in the creek. He was at once extricated. The engineer of the train was found at least fifty feet away. The latter and Moore are badly hurt, internally and otherwise. It is a miracle that either of these men came out of the wreck alive.

Everybody was looking for his traveling companion, to ascertain if any more were dead or injured. In the mail car was the postmaster of Flushing, Ohio, who had a shoulder dislocated. The Postal Clerks escaped uninjured, but got a terrible shaking up. Several passengers in the smoking and ladies' cars received bruises, but fortunately not serious. The track for at least a hundred yards was completely torn up, and the rails twisted as if they were wire.

The accident was caused by a huge rock, weighing at least twenty tons, falling from the hillside upon the track, and as the flying engine came suddenly upon it there was no time to prevent a terrific contact with the rock.

A wrecking and relief train came to the scene of the disaster about 3 o'clock a. m. The corpse of the fireman and the injured persons together with the passengers were transferred to the relief cars, all reaching here about daylight.

The Baltimore and Ohio officials did and are now doing all that human power can do for the injured and belated travelers. No blame can be attached to the railroad employes or officials. The road night watchman says he passed the ill-fated spot not twenty minutes before the accident occurred and there was no obstruction upon the track. It was one of the most marvelous escapes from a frightful horror ever recorded in the railroad accidents of America.


NEWARK, Ohio, March 14. - This morning a wreck occured at Black Hand, on the Central Ohio Division of the Baltimore and Ohio. One man was killed outright, two were dangersously, and five slightly injured. A large rock had rolled on the track two miles west of the point named, and the fast Chicago vestibule train, due here at 12:30, struck the rock, which was half as large as a passenger coach. The train was in charge of Engineer John Moore and Conductor Raymond.

At the place where the accident occurred there is a high hill on one side of the road and the river flows on the other. The train was making probably forty miles an hour when the engine struck the rock, and in an instant an awful scene ensued. The engine was turned completely around and thrown into the water, while the baggage, mail, smoker, first-class coach, and the sleeper were all ditched, the trucks being knocked out from under them. There were


on board, and the accident was a remarkably fortunate one in its results, considering the speed of the train and the weight of the obstruction.

Only a few minutes before the accident the watchman passed the place and met the train half a mile east and signalled all was clear, not knowing that heavy rain had loosened the enormous bowlder and that it was even then tumbing down to the track. Engineer J. Moore, no doubt saw the boulder as he rounded the curve, but reversed his engine too late to be of any use, except to perhaps weaken the crash. He was thrown from his cab, together with Engineer John Hart, who happened to be on the train at the time, and though they alighted on soft dirt, both were badly hurt about the head and shoulders, and it is thought internally. Both men were brought here to-day and no one is allowed to see them.

Fireman Jesse Balin was found alongside the track. His mangled form was frightful to look upon, being scalded horribly, besides crushed almost beyond any semblance to man. He leaves a wife and two children.

Word of the wreck reached here at once, and immediately wrecking forces were sent down and trains with surgeons and a relief corps followed. It was then ascertained that


Their names are:

Edward Stevenson, Bloomfield, Ill., badly bruised and knee, hip, and arm sprained.

George Wakely, Harrisburg, Pa., bruised about the body.

A. P. Dickson, Canton, Dak., hip and back badly hurt.

E. M.Smith, Chicago, knee and hip sprained and badly bruised.

Also the two engineers referred to above who it is now said will both die.

In addition to these, Ezra McConnell, ex-mail clerk, who was in the mail car going to Chicago, was thrown from one end of the car to the other, sustaining a severe fracture of the right shoulder.

The train was made up here again, and the passengers who were able to travel were carried on. The track was blockaded until this afternoon, trouble being experienced in straightening the wrecked coaches.

The Inter-Ocean, Chicago, IL Mar 1890


Can't find Black Hand?

No Black Hand, Ohio.
There is a Black Hand gorge and Blackhand rock and a nature park.
A tunnel is in the area alongbthe Licking River.

As for dead reported, "One Man Killed, Two Fatally Hurt and Others Severely Injured."

Dead is dead, fatally or otherwise, so its at least 3 dead.