Latrobe, PA Train Wreck, Jun 1889


Two Freight Trains on the Pennsylvania Railroad Reduced to Debris.

A Large Number of Train-Hands and Passengers Killed and Wounded.

PITTSBURGH, PA., June 26.—At 2:20 a.m. today west-bound freight No. 1313 telescoped the extra west-bound freight No. 308 at Monastery Coke-works, near Latrobe station on the Pennsylvania railroad. Just as this collision occurred an east-bound freight train was passing on the other track. The wreck of the west-bound trains caught the last two cars of the east-bound train wrecking them. In all twenty-five cars of merchandise were wrecked. Brakeman Miller was fatally injured. Engineer Caldwell and his fireman, name unknown, have not been found, and it is believed they are covered up in the wreck, very probably dead. The bodies of four unknown tramps who had been stealing a ride have been taken out. The other trainmen, so far as can be learned, escaped serious injury.

Latrobe, PA., June 27.—Later particulars from the scene of the terrible wreck at Loyal Hanna bridge, just west of Latrobe, are to the effect that the derry shifter had left eighteen cars standing on the bridge while the crew were drilling out loaded cars at the Latrobe Coalworks. The flagman of the shifter had gone to the telegraph tower, but as a heavy rain was falling at the time it is not known whether the engineer on the fast freight going west saw his signal or not. In any event the flagman was not back half far enough, and had his signal been observed, the engineer could not possibly have stopped his heavy train of forty-two cars on the down grade in time to avert the accident. The train, going at a speed of twenty-five miles an hour, crashed into the cars on the bridge, tearing up the rails, and plunged over the side of the stone bridge, a sheer descent of forty feet, into the bed of Loyal Hanna creek.

At the same moment an east-bound freight was passing on the other track. One of the wrecked cars caught the car next to the caboose on this train, wrecking it and the caboose and badly using up the pushing engine. Eighteen loaded and thirteen empty cars, together with engine No. 1313 are a total wreck. The debris took fire at once, and although held in check by the local fire department, is still burning.

Engineer Caldwell and Fireman Fralich went down with the locomotive and are still under the wreck. The loss of life can not be accurately estimated. Aside from the train-men, it is known that there were between forty and fifty men on the west-bound train who had been working at Johnstown. They are paid off Tuesday, and were endeavoring to reach their homes. The injured were attended by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company’s surgeons, and with the exception of those whose injuries are too critical to allow them to be moved, were sent to the County Home or to the hospitals in Pittsburgh.

The dead were washed and coffined by Undertaker Stader, in whose care they have been left for identification. The known dead are
Elmer Caldwell, engineer; resided at Manor station.
G. F. Fralich, fireman, Pittsburgh; leaves a widow and two children.
George Cargal, Jersey City.
Edward Kelly, Philadelphia.
Unknown man, but thought to be John E. Keenan, of Eau Claire, Wis.
Albert Critchlow, Pittsburg, and four other bodies not identified.

The injured are: F. A. Geiss, Braddock; John Cleary, Pittsburg; Pat Flannigan, recently arrived from Ireland; P. Fitzgibbons, McKeesport; Peter Maudry, Johnstown; John Mullen, Philadelphia; Lewis Wyblo, Indiana, Pa.; James McCardy, Canada; John H. Miller, brakeman, Pittsburgh; Peter Cavanagh, Pittsburgh; John Howard, Pittsburgh; John Jackson, McKeesport; unknown man, unconscious; fatally hurt.

It is believed that there are from fifteen to twenty bodies yet in the debris.

Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 27 Jun 1889