recks & Accidents.
F.B. Reese was an agent for the C.S.&C. rail road in the 1870s. He helped Charlie F. Colley to learn the rail roading business and telegraphy. Charlie became assistant trainmaster at Galion for the New York, Lake Erie & Western railroad in 1884.
In May, 1879 the south bound mail train was delayed at Forest due to a hot box." Hot box refers to an overheated journal box on a railroad car.
Tramps "riding the rails" through Forest were ever present. In 1879 an editorial was written about how they huddled in groups on the break-beam which ran under the freight cars within 18 inches of the ground. Rail road personnel did their best to keep "their" trains free of the nuisance but "beat them they did.
Telegraphers working for the railroad were well respected in the community as their job depended upon accuracy. One old telegrapher was quoted "The letter "t" in the word "there" cost our telegraph company several thousand dollars a few years ago. Schamacher, the oatmeal king, sent a heavy order for oats to Chicago, and the price agreed upon was "thirty-five cents delivered in cars here," which was metamorphosed into "thirty-five cents delivered in cars there." The letter "t" in this case represented freight charges on several hundred thousand bushels of oats from Chicago to Akron, O., and as the settlement was made on the basis of the telegraphic order, the company was held responsible for this account."
Upon the death of Isaac Elder of Mt. Blanchard, S.F. Moore recalled an accident which occurred with Elder and his two little daughters. They were struck by a train in 1880. At the time, Charles Almy, Joseph McClun, and Moore were finishing up John Lafferty's new brick house when a northbound passenger train was observed. Lafferty was on top of the front veranda. The end of the driveway obstructed the view of the train from the ground. Near the pond (unknown) a large team and wagon was coming north. The train came up from behind causing the team to take fright and run away at full speed down the road and, for some unknown reason, the team turned into the driveway and across the train tracks at the other end of the driveway. When the horses crossed the tracks the train struck the horses with full force, killing the horses and spewing the horses, wagon, contents, and occupants along the tracks. The wagon driver appeard to be dead and the little girls, four and six years of age, were seen trying to crawl up the tracks. The wagon driver was identified as Ike Elder. The train backed up and Elder was placed in the baggage car. The two girls were put taken into the passanger car by Moore and Almy, then the train backed into Forest. Elder was taken to the Scott House. Later it was determined that Elder had been warned to leave off moving his team until the train passed, but he refused. One of the girls later married and, after marrying, met Moore in Dave Naus' woods and showed Moore a scar at the edge of her hair on her forehead. Moore met the other girl involved in the accident in 1900. He believed that their sister married Robert Shaw.
In 1886, the rail roads reduced rates for land explorers. There was an inquiry by the Union Pacific Railway Company relative to the sale of tickets to "land explorers." Judge James Humphrey at Topeka, Kansas received a letter from D.E. Cornell (general station agent) citing ... the Kansas railway lines requested their eastern connections to place on sale in their various ticket offices round-trip land explorers' tickets to points in Kansas, at reduced rates. These tickets were called land explorers' tickets. Each one of the Kansas lines selected one point on their line to which these land explorers' tickets should be placed on sale. The point designated on our Kansas division was Abilene. The principal lines west of Buffalo and Pittsburg have these tickets on sale at reduced rates. The majority of the poeple who purchased these tickets wish to go farther west on our line to purchase or take up land. ..." An agreement of the railroad board later concluded that persons desiring to go west to look for land could get reduced rates and it seems that Forest was one of the points for a land explorers" ticket.
At Forest on 19 Sep 1887 two freight trains on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago rail road, collided, setting five oil cars on fire. A car loaded with dynamite cartridges exploded, killing fireman Fred Brough and fatally injuring engineer Lyons. It also was the cause of death for, George Smith, of Cleveland who was stealing a ride at the time.
Two freight trains of the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne, and Chicago road collided causing dynamite carried by one of the trains to explode, 19 Sep 1887. Killed were fireman, Fred Brough (engineer), __ Lyons, and George Smith.
A freight wreck east of Nevada on the P.F.W. & C. Ry occurred in November, 1890, and caused the delay to the west bound passenger trains in Forest. The freight was pulling over a heavy grade when the train broke, the rear part running down the grade and creshing into the forward part of the train demolishing a number of cars. It scattered merchandise in every direction though no one was hurt by the accident. Nearly all the great railroad system had hospitals for the benefit of their employees. The hospitals were partly supported by monthly deductions from the pay of employees. At the time the Big Four Ry was making an average $1.01 per mile run for passenger services while they averaged $1.87 per mile for freight. American freight cars at the time carried about thirty tons of of weight, the cars themselves weighing about nine tons.
On the Wabash Ry system, in a 24 hour period, 4,991 carloads of paying freight were handled. The November 1890 wreck near Nevada was estimated to cost that railroad 30 to 40 thousand dollars.
Pay for conductors in 1891 was $2.50 per day. They were asking the railroad to raise pay to $3.25 per day. Freight brakemen were paid $1.75 per day and they were asking the railroad to increase that to $2.10 per day. Beside these two jobs the railroads had ticket agents, telegraph operators, freight agents, express agents, and baggage masters. Sometimes one individual being all of these people. The Pittsburg Post was cited in the Forest Review the same year indicating engineers were making enough to be "comparatively wealthy" in the $20-25,000 range.
E.E. Kenon, who was attending the P.F. water tank west of Forest at the Blanchard river on 7 Dec 1891, while attempting to board a freight train with a dog and a gun in his arms, was thrown off and broke his leg. Had it not been for the timely discovery of an open switch by Josh Silverthorn the night of 10 Dec 1891, just after a heavy freight had gone north, the Big Four might have sustained a heavy loss during the night by a wreck. Josh immediately notified agent Gardner, who went to Forest at once and notified the section boss," while Josh stood guard at the switch with a latern ready to flag down any trains that may have come along. The switch was repaired as soon as the section men could get to it and a wreck was avoided.
The telegraph and business office occupied by agent Moler in the freight house was undergoing a complete renovation; ceiled and repaired, and a new floor laid in May, 1891. Residents indicated that if railroads built a decent passenger depot for their patrons they would be getting things in a fair shape and do a commendable act for the traveling public.
D.L. Harmon kept a restaurant by the Big Four railroad in July, 1891. He had been missing $2 to $6 each morning when he opened his place of business. One Friday evening he communicated that loss to B.F. McGinnis, Forest's city marshal and the two set a trap to catch the night visitor. Friday night, Mr. Harmon locked his doors securely, went home and retired, leaving the marshal on the inside of his restaurant to stay the night if necessary. The stay was not long though as shortly after twelve a key was inserted into the door and turned. A young man somehwat disguised, softly tripped behind the counter, pulled the till, and deftly slipped change from each of the dividison of the money drawer, not taking all but as on previous visits taking only a part, and then as quickly tried to make his exit. The marshal during this time had been standing behind the door as thrown open when entered, peering at the burgler, and just as he was about to escape closed the door in from of him and closed his arms around the man whom he recognized as Elmer Thrush. At the time of entry Thrush had taken advantage of a passing Big Four freight's noise. Thrush was presented before Mayor Paul where he was given a $200 bond. He didn't explain where he got the key. He was transfered to the Kenton jail. He was later released on a writ of Habeus corpus by Probate Judge Wood. Considerable excitement about the arrest and jailing of Thrush occurred in Forest. Mayor Paul was found to have made several errors in his warrant which jailed Thrush, one being that he hadn't included the name of the village on the warrent.
There was a flag drill held in the depot in September, 1891 when all the boys in Forest could get a smile from the young ladies conducting the drill.
On 23 Oct 1891 a large crowd was at the depot to witness Nebraska on Wheels," a train which consisted of four cars, two of which were filled with the products of Nebraska farms, orchards and gardens. A stream of visitors flowed through the cars during the hour of exhibition. Fifteen counties of Nebraska were represented and prominent men from each were present to describe the west. Agent E.N. Howe took pictures of the train the crowd.
June being a hot month, Ray Cesna, dispensed lemonade, peanuts and candies from a stand near the freight house in 1982. Later in October, the freight end ticket office received a much needed improvement by way of a new coat of paint.
Charley Swartz, son of David Swartz, met with a serious accident 2 Mar 1892 while playing near the depot. He was thrown off a tie pile and broke his arm. Dr. Mundy set the broken bones.
On 5 Jun 1892 a morning train from the south was about three hours late on account of a slight wreck a short distance below Kenton. On the morning of 15 Nov 1892, Emanuel Drummond, left his home located three miles east of town to go to Forest. Thinking he could jump on a passing freight train he made the attempt and met with the result that often met with such reckless exploits. he was thrown under the train receiving injuries of a fracture to his collar bone and a crushed leg above the ankle. Dr. Swimley of Forest and Dr. Burns of Kirby amputated his leg below the knee and dress his wounds.
[THE SCRAP HEAP]
Interesting Railroad Items Gathered from Various Points. ... The Ft. Wayne wreck train on the P.F. went through to Forest this morning to clear up a wreck caused by two freight trains colliding. About twenty-four cars were ditched, and a couple of the trainmen badley injured. All east bound trains were compelled to go around the wreck over the C.&.E., No. 39, due at 9:45, did not arrive until one o'clock. ...
Howard Conover, a local rural mail carrier from the east had removed the wheels of his carriage and had substituted runners to take advantage in snow, crossed the Big Four track at 8:30 o'clock at the Fox's elevator on February 18, 1909. The local was doing a work in the Big Four yards and in order to get across the track before it would be blocked by the cars, Conover gave his horses a touch with the whip. The animinals immediately became unmanagable to the driver when the local nearly ran into his sleigh scaring his team and causing it to run down Mrs. Wm. Almy of Columbus, and Miss Myrta Almy. The women were crossing the street at the Big Four restaurant near Monce & Curtin and were knocked down and dragged. Miss. Myrta was dragged along the street as far as the Hardin Co. Bank where the team was stopped by a gentleman who witnessed the accident and rushed into the street to help. Miss Almy was found lying immediately behind one of the horses with one of its hoofs standing on her hair. She was taken from under the sleigh to Dr. L.E. Cook's office where she received medical treatment. No bones were broken, but her face and hip were severly bruised. She was taken home on a cot. Mrs. Wm. Almy was taken to H.F. Shields' drug store where Dr. Mundy dressed her wounds. She had several bruises about the arm and body and a badly lacerated finger. Luckily, snow on the ground prevented more serious injuries to the women. By February 26th they were still recuperating, Mrs. Wm. Almy with her hand wrapped in bandages and Miss Myrta with the hope that the scars would eventually disappear. Mrs. Almy returned with her husband to their Columbus home in March.