ASHLAND, OHIO JULY 5-6 1961
ERIE FREIGHT TRAIN DERAILED
36 CARS PILED UP
Butane tank buried beneath wreckage.
Erie Railroad wrecking crews toiled today at the momentous task of gingerly picking their way through 36 derailed freight cars to extricate a tank car of butane gas after 36 cars of a 126-car freight jumped track at 11:35 p.m. yesterday and piled into a mass of twisted wreckage between the Ashland freight depot and the Union Street overpass.
The derailed cars jumped the track as Erie freight train 78 178 pulled by engine 1038 rolled through Ashland on a run from Marion to Kent.
Firemen and policemen stayed on duty throughout the night at the wreckage with police roping off the danger area and firemen continually washing down oil leaking from four overturned tank cars ahead of the butane car.
Railroad officials said this morning they expect it will be at least 24 hours before the track is cleared and possibly three days before all the wreckage is cleaned up.
Fire Chief Bernard Johnson said this morning that the potentially dangerous butane tank is unruptured now and as long as the tank is not punctured, we’re safe.
The overturned butane car narrowly missed the corner of the Hess and Clark Company building containing the heating and power plant and the company’s heating fuel supply tanks.
Above the overturned butane car run power lines endangered when wreckage snapped a power pole off at it’s base. Ohio Edison workers early this morning stubbed the broken power pole to another pole to eliminate the possibility of power lines coming down and igniting the butane or the spilled oil.
The four unit engine of the train and seven cars behind the engine which were not derailed were sent to Kent early in the morning to allow wrecking trains to get at the tangled mass of derailed cars.
Wrecking crews were dispatched from both the Marion and Kent railroad terminals to enable the cleanup process to continue from both ends of the wreckage. Early this morning a bulldozer from Cooper Construction Co. and a bulldozer belonging to excavator Roy C. Myers joined the wrecking crews.
By 8 a.m. all the underailed cars had been cleared away and one of the overturned oil tankers had been righted at the east end of the wreckage. At the west end of the pileup near the freight depot, wreckers had difficulty in hauling away three undamaged boxcars because the tracks had spread apart underneath the cars causing them to slip off the track as an engine attempted to pull them away.
Train engineer Ray Rinehart of Marion told law enforcement men the train was traveling 45 miles an hour through Ashland when he heard a bump. Engineer George Marshall Of Marion gave as his description of the accident, I turned around and saw a tank car jump and sparks fly right near the Orange street crossing. Then we went around a curve and I couldn’t see anything more.
I think we’ve lost a few, Rinehart told the other crewmembers. He stated he immediately got on the radio and yelled a warning to other nearby trains.
The caboose of a westbound freight train had just cleared the eastbound freight at the Ashland station when the cars jumped the track. A crew member of the westbound train riding in the caboose reported flying chunks of concrete kicked up by the derailed cars flew up at the caboose as it passed the Cottage St. crossing.
On the crew of the ill-fated freight along with Rinehart and Marshall were conductor Mel Lucas, head trainman Dave Ebersols and flagman Stanley Kneard, all Of Marion
The crew reported the train had left Marion at 9:48p.m. and would have arrived in Kent at 2 or 2:15 a,m. An east bound passenger train scheduled to arrive in Ashland at 1:04 a.m. and a westbound train scheduled for 1:37 a.m. were both notified by trainmen in time to be rerouted on New York Cantral and Baltimore and Ohio tracks. All other Erie trains were to be rerouted through Sterling on the same detour.
Although railroad officials said no determination of cause of the derailment has been made, members of the crew said they felt a rolling as the engine passed over the track near the passenger depot and suggested the derailment was possibly due to a loose rail.
George Wade, on duty at the F.E. Myers and Bro. Co. power room when the crash occurred said I was reading a magazine when I heard a rumbling and some thumps. I rushed out the door with Si Peters, the watchman, and the dust and stuff was still flying. A coil spring from one of the cars came rolling down the street toward us.
Officers said a car waiting today on the siding built around the wreckage were running approximately 10 minutes behind schedule.
Firemen sprayed each train and the tank car as they passed the wreckage to eliminate any damage from sparks.
Railroad spokesmen said today no determination of cause has been made as yet pointing out it would be impossible to determine the cause until all the wreckage could be examined.
The spokesman said the railroad hopes to have normal service restored by tomorrow morning.
Chief Bernard Johnson today praised the volunteer fire company for their work at the Orange St. scene of the work. Without these volunteers it just wouldn’t be possible to handle situations like this. He pointed out that as of this morning, 22 volunteers have put in from two to 11 hours on the scene.
DELAY MOVING WRECKED BUTANE TANK CAR UNTIL AFTER MIDNIGHT
Erie Railroad officials estimated at noon today that it will be sometime after midnight tonight before the tank car of butane gas overturned and pinned in by wreckage of Tuesday night’s train derailment is moved.
Fire Chief Bernard Johnson stated at noon that although the outer skin of the tank car is ruptured, the inner tank is apparently still intact and there is no leakage from the tank. Johnson said there is no danger from the tank unless it is punctured or ruptured when moved.
A railroad spokesman said shortly before noon that the Erie wrecking cranes will continue extricating the 13 remaining piled up cars this afternoon and tonight and will probably get to the tank car sometime after midnight.
According to the spokesman, the wrecking cranes will attempt to lift the loaded tanker onto a flatcar to move it away. Workers of both the nearby Eagle Rubber Co. and F.E. Myers and Bro. Co. were furloughed today. Officials at both companies stated the factories will not return to work until the butane car is removed. Work at the Hess and Clark division of Richardson- Merrell Inc. immediately adjacent to the butane car, continued as usual.
At the Myers plant, two of the company’s fire brigade crews are on duty on an around the clock basis.
Ashland City Schools Superintendent J. L. Baird this morning closed the Lincoln St. School kindergarten until after the tank car is removed.
Although no final damage estimate has been made, a railroad official said this morning a preliminary damage figure of $250,000 has been set.
First train to pass through Ashland since the 11:35 p.m. Tuesday wreck was a 144 car freight which edged it’s way through town shortly after 10:oo p.m. yesterday while fireman played a steady spray of water on the butane car.
The fireman stayed on duty all night wetting down the butane car each time a train passed the wreck. Meanwhile a railroad track gang continued work in the flooded area, re-laying road bed until and track in the area already cleared of wreckage to allow the wrecker cranes to move closer to the re-maining debris.
An Erie official stated 150 men are on duty at the scene. Early in the evening, the wrecker cranes moved in on specially constructed sidings and lifted off of the cars pinning in the butane car.
Unloading of the major part of 10,490 gallons of butane gas from a wrecked tank car into a tank truck from Galion was completed at the Orange St. crossing at 11 a.m. today.
With the danger ended, F.E. Myers and Bros. Co. and Eagle Rubber Co. workers went back to work on regular schedule today after being furloughed while the tank car was being freed from the wreckage.
Although the railroad wrecking crews were scheduled to return to Marion and Kent today, section gangs were told they would in Ashland and work through the weekend to put the remaining unrepaired sections of track back into operation. Trains passing through this morning continued to bypass the wrecked sections of track on a siding pressed into operation.
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