Search billions of records on

Pennsylvania Double Track

unkirk Railroad Service.

The Pennyslvania Railway Double Track, Yards, etc. are shown to the right. The reader will notice that there is a quarry in the distance. The view is east from Main street, Dunkirk, Ohio. There is no date.

An assumed accident occurred early on the morning of 5 Jan 1878 a man by the name of Underwood was crushed to death by a freight train some time the night before. He was discovered by one of the railroad night watchmen about 3 a.m. who then informed the authorities of Dunkirk. The accident happened between the depot and the first switch east of Dunkirk. A panel with A.K. Macaskey, Justice of the Peace, was empowered. There was no coroner within ten miles of Durkirk at the time. It was determined that the man had been run over and killed by a train on the Pittsburgh road the night before. Underwood had gone to one of the Dunkirk hotels earlier in an intoxicated condition. He was put to bed by the hotel proprietor, but later must have arisen and used the tracks instead of the pike on his way to the Ropp farm two miles west of Dunkirk where he worked.

The P.Ft.W.&C. R&E39;y has been engaged for a year or more in ballasting its line with stone. Another year will finish the work. To secure an ample and accessible supply, the company has purchased large quarries near Dunkirk, Ohio. Over any portion of the road that is completed, it is impossible for a train to raise any dust under any circumstances.

A horrible accident took place two miles east of Dunkirk in the afternoon of July 6, 1880. The boiler of a steam thresher owned by a Mr. Herrick blew up and killed five people. It seriously wounded four more. The killed were:

  • Richard Case - married 2 children
  • Washington Pisle - married 1 child
  • George Pisle - single
  • Arnsy Harmon
  • William Frederick
  • Rudy Thrush - probably died
  • Jesse Frederick - loss of a leg
  • John McVitty - broken leg
  • __ Bowers - slight injuries

The cause of the accident was not known because the boiler was new and it was the first attempt at using it. It had been manufactured at Eaton, N.Y. Doctors from Dunkirk were immediately on the scene rendering assistance to the injured. Local citizens help take care of the dead.

Eleven Indians were transferred from the T.C. & C. to P.F.W. depot at Dunkirk on 4 Mar 1891. The occasion gave many residents the opportunity of seeing so-called "Injuns." Work on the new depot was deferred for some time on account of a little difficulty in making out the abstract. Word from a reliable source arrived the week 8 Feb 1903 to the effect that the matter had all been adjusted and the transfer made and that work would be resumed at once. Dunkirk had been patient but believed that they would be well repaid for their long wait as the Pennsylvania Co. had promised something fine.

Pennsylvania Wreck

Mentioned in the 1901 article Pennsylvania Wreck is George Horn, an engineer of the C&E applying for a position with C.H.&D. "... on the Hamilton and Indianapolis division of the road."

Dunkirk was to receive a new Pennsylvania depot in 1903. The work had been deferred on acount of a little difficulty in making out the abstract. Also during the same time the Forest Big Four depot was to be "consolidated" with the Pennsylvania depot. The consolidation caused little grief for passengers, but the Forest baggage master didn't find it as convenient.

Pennsylvania Depot

The Pennsylvania Depot was entered by burglars at some time in the night on 18 Aug 1907. All the coupon tickets except 10 were stolen. Also blank Adams Express money orders. Entrance was made by prying open a window. I.A. Gaver was suspected of being the man who robbed the depot and blew the save when he was arrested in South Bend, IN on 29 May 1908. He was brought to Kenton where he was accused of many railway robbing jobs.

The Pennsylvania depot was entered by burglars at some time in the night on 18 Aug 1907. All the coupon tickets except 10 were stolen. Also blank Adams Express money orders. Entrance was made by prying open a window. I.A. Gaverwas suspected of being the man who robbed the depot and blew the save when he was arrested in South Bend, IN on 29 May 1908. He was brought to Kenton where he was accused of many railway robbing jobs.

A narrow escape from severe injury was the lot of Mrs. V. Q. Staufferon 7 May 1910 at Dunkirk. She was knocked senseless by being struck by a heavy mail pouch which was sent hurtling form a train as she stood on the depot platform waiting to catch a fleeting glimpse of her husband, who was a mail clerk on the same train, and witnessed the accident. She was not severely hurt as the pouch knocked her feet from under her, the fall giving her a teriffic shock which caused the temperary loss of her senses. She had been to Dunkirk to attend comencement excercises.

Big Four engine

According to a newspaper article, Lloyd Howard was working as a section foreman for the Big Four railroad in the 1940s.

He was born on January 12, 1880 in Findlay, Ohio. His parents were John M. and Jennie M. (Lewis) Howard of Arlington, Ohio. Lloyd Howard had two brothers, Marion and Samuel G., and two sisters, Minnie B. and Dora S. Howard. He was married to Lulu (Lewis) Howard. Elisabeth Lewis (b. Aug 1819, PA) was the mother-in-law of John Howard and John Howard also had a cousin, Joseph Swank (b. Feb 1835, PA).

Of all the major wrecks in the United States over the years Dunkirk was listed when twelve lives were lost due to a wreck on November 9, 1941.


John Howard died on June 17, 1941 at McKettrick hospital, Kenton, Ohio. At the time of his death he was working on the T.O.C. (Toledo & Ohio Central) railroad. He was buried in the Dunkirk cemetery on June 19, 1941.

Cylinder Head

"Churchill Warns of All-Engulfing War" in Headlines may detract from the second headline, "Eleven Killed in Pennsy Train Wreck," but the editors must have felt that it deserved recognition because it was placed immediately after and in the same typeface.

Mentioned in the "Eleven Killed in Pennsy Train Wreck" article are:

  • R.S. Schuler
  • E. Newcomet
  • F.R. Gerard
  • J.L. Gephart
  • Mat Morgan
  • Donato Cerriere
  • Donald Herierer
  • Mrs. D.B. Stoner
  • A. Mooney
  • Roy Schwartzkopf
  • John Sweafeldt
  • Bert Gamage
40 Injured

Two workers in the tower were thrown clear and survived. There were victims trapped in a wrecked coach and one fireman lost his life. The Chicago-New York train, the Pennsylvanian, was traveling between 60-70 mph going east at Dunkirk when a cylinder plate head was dropped by a freight train about two blocks west of the Main St. crossing.

Cliff Schwartzkoph, signal towerman, was working but escape with minor injuries.

Boy Saves 3
Nino Bottalla

Nino Bottalla, 14, saved three of his younger brothers from the Dunkirk wreck. He was thrown free but went back inside to save his brothers; Aldo, Umberto, and Joe.

Where 12 Died

Three graphic photographs of the havoc wrought in the Pennsylvania Railroad wreck at Dunkirk Sunday night in which 12 persons lost their lives and 40 were injured as the line's crack "Pennsylvanian" left the rails is shown in the photographic article, Where 12 Died, a panorama of the scene, looking north, as railroad wrecking cranes started to clear the debris. The roof eaves visible near the crane to the right of the picture shows all that remains of the signal tower into which the locomotive plunged. The middle photo is a close-up of the tower wreckage and one of the coaches. The bottom photo shows one of the Pennsylvania`s "big hooks" about to attach to the tangled wreckage of the overturned locomotive.

Blown Cylinder Head On Tracks
Detrails Speeding Limited

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.

Volunteer workers aided railroad employes in extracting bodies and aiding injured trapped in their cars. A light snow was falling and flares were set around the wreckage to aid workers.

Many of the Pullman passengers were preparing to retire.

Guy Davis, 39, of Arlington, Ill., said he was playing cards in the lounge car, where there still were about 30 persons.

"There was a grinding of brakes and then chairs and furniture and people were thrown about the car," he said. "I jammed the cards in my pocket for some reason and ran for a corridor. Luckily, I got out."

Lynn Mahan, Chicago, public relations officer of the American Locomotive Co., said he was thrown from his bed in a Pullman compartment. Uninjured, he dressed and climbed out of the car.

"The engineer was hitting it up at top speed, it seemed," he said. "I had gone to bed. I noticed the car began to sway; the whole train was trembling. I knew we were off the rails. It went about a hundred feet before it stopped."

J. B. Lydick, Dunkirk, who lived a block from the scene, was in his living room playing with a jigsaw puzzle, when he saw flying sparks. He heard no noise.

"It looked like a flue burning out," he said. "People began calling for help. I ran over to help get them out. We had to tear the seats out to get to some of them."

The engineer, R. E. SCHULER, Fort Wayne, was injured but his condition was not critical. He said he did not know the cause of the accident.

Mahan talked with Towerman Schwartzkopf immediately after the accident.

"How Schwartzkopf escaped is a miracle," Mahan said. "He told me he noticed a flame and sparks from the engine before the crash came. The engine a K-4 type, was completely lost in the wreckage. It was so completely hid that for an hour or so, some thought it had gone on down the track."

List Of Dead.

Kenton, Ohio, Nov. 10. -- (AP) -- A partial list of the dead in the wreck of a Pennsylvania passenger train at Dunkirk last night follows:

J. L. GEPHART, Fort Wayne, Ind., fireman on the train.

ERNEST HOUSEKNECHT, 616 E. Iroquois Street, Freeport, Ill.

C. G. BLADE, 1419 E. Erie Avenue, Lorain, Ohio.

MARTIN E. KAY, 43, 2109 North Thirty-fifth Street, Milwaukee.

MRS. MARJANA RILL, 54, 1530 West San Carlos, San Jose, Calif.

MRS. IRENE RAY, 35, Route 1, Silver Springs, Md.

HENRY HEILES, 968 Sheridan Avenue, New York.

LEO AVINGTON, 37, Mansfield, Ohio, and his wife, MARY AGNES AVINGTON, 26.

L. IRWIN BAUER, Laurelton, N.J.

Part I
Part II
Late Train

LATE TRAIN IS BAD LUCK FOR WRECK VICTIM.—Mrs. W.P. Scheets became a victim by missing a connection due to late arrival and choosing to ride the Pennsylvanian because of it.


Pennsylvania Wreck
Quiet Dunkirk

Tom A. Scott was a veteran conductor serving on the Pennsylvania railroad. He recounted this story for the newspaper about what he remembered the night of the wreck. He boarded the train at Ft. Wayne on its run to Crestline. He was riding in the combination passenger-baggage car when the wreck occurred. His car was passing eastward over the Toledo & Ohio Central`s tracks at Dunkirk.

In the story are referenced Dr. W.P. Rickert, Donato Carrierer, Mary Agnes Avington, Charles Kolton, C.J. Gebhart, J.L. Gebhart, and Dorothy Bottalia.

Lima Doctors

Three of the first Dunkirk residents to arrive at the scene of the wreck of the Pennsylvania railroad`s No. 78 Sunday night are pictured (here). They are, left to right: H.D. Williams, Carter Shisler, and Milburn Gambill. Young Gambill is a pre-medical student at Ohio Northern university, Ada, an becaus [sic] of his knowledge of first aid, was of inestimable help to Drs. C.R. Blosserand Stephen P. Churchill, Dunkirk, and J.F. Holtzmuller, Forest, the first to arrive on the scene. Through the light snowfall, he saw the Pennsylvanian`s headlight coming toward him at some 70 miles an hour. Suddenly, from a passing freight train, a half-ton cylinder head was blown from the locomotive, landed squarely on the track before the oncoming express. From his tower Schwartzkopf saw the Pennsylvanian`s headlight weaving and rocking. The locomotive left the rails, skidded on its side 200 feet to crash into the control tower. doctors and nurses aided in the Pennsylvania wreck. Mentioned are Drs. James McBride& John Glorioso, Davis, Miller & Son and Sanferd & Son ambulances, McKitrick & Antonio hospitals, the Ohio Highway Patrol, and the towns of Kenton, Ada, Findlay, Arlington, and Upper Sandusky.

It was 10:18 at night. In a railway control tower at Dunkirk, Ohio, Operator Cliff Schwartzkopf waited for the Pennsylvania`s Pennsylvanian, eastbound from Chicago to New York. Schwartzkopf, dazed but unhurt, found himself on the tracks, the wreckage piled around him, the control tower aflame. A coach had sheared against the locomotive as if a knife had cut it down the middle. The Pennsylvanian`s fireman and at least eleven others were dead; 42 or more were injured. The engineer lost an arm. An hour after the wreck a Chicago advertising man discovered that he still held in his hand the bridge cards he had been ready to play when the train left the tracks.

Passenger Tells Story

Mentioned in the article, Passenger Tells Story, are:

  • Jim Blissell
  • Gray Knisely
  • Lynn Mahan
  • James Poling
Dunkirk Tower

A wheel broke on a freight car loaded with shelled corn on the eastbound Pennsylvania railroad train at 3:10 a.m. Sunday, January 7, 1951, causing fourteen cars to pile up in Dunkirk. Damage was estimated to be in the thousands of dollars. Eddie McMahonwas in the telegraph tower at the time. Wrecking crews came from Crestline and Fort Wayne to help clear the wreck. Ground feed, washing machines, oats, wheat, and other miscellaneous merchandise were in the wreck. Nearly a block of tracks had to be repaired.

Emanuel A. Boyer died on July 21, 1957. He was a Dunkirk railroad crossing watchman.

Crossing Watchman
Looking North

The photograph Looking North is the Dunkirk switching tower. It is seen looking south on the NYC Toledo Branch R.R. near the Pennsylvania R.R. crossing on July 15, 1989 and again Looking South on July 19, 2005.

Looking South