Recalling the 1893 Train Wreck in Jamestown, N.Y.

Train Derailment in Jamestown, N.Y. on June 8, 1893. (Image from the photo archives of the Chautauqua County Historical Society, Westfield, N.Y.)

I was looking through some of the Chautauqua County Historical Society’s photo collection on trains [PDF] and came across two images depicting a train derailment that took place along the Erie Railroad in Jamestown on June 8, 1893.

Based on the accounts of a front page article in June 8, 1893 edition of the Jamestown Evening Post, it seems the derailment of Train 3 occurred near the present location of Dawson Metal in the city, near the driveway the leads from the plant parking lot to Crescent St. At the time of the derailment, the area was the location of the Mahoney Brick Yard.

I was familiar with the horrific train crash in Sheridan (Dec. 15, 1893) that resulted in five deaths, along with a fatal train wreck that took place in Falconer near Work St. in 1905 that left two people dead. However, I was not aware there was a severe train wreck in Jamestown until after coming across these images. Despite the significant damage and wreckage caused by the derailment, it is amazing to learn no one was killed in the accident.

As a result of my own curiosity as well as wanting to share this information with others interested in local history, I’ve transcribed the entire article from the Jamestown Evening Post (below) to help provide further details of the incident. From what I could find, there are no photographs of the train derailment available online, other than the two provided here on our blog (and at our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/ChautauquaCountyHistory).

Additional photos may be available in the archives of the Fenton History Center in Jamestown, N.Y.

From the Jamestown Evening Post – June 8, 1893:

TRAIN 3 WRECKED

Fearful Accident in This City at Noon Today.

FIREMAN SMITH INJURED.

Many Cars in a Terrible Condition, but No Loss of Life Connoted with the Disaster – the Escape from Death for Many is Considered Miraculous.

     Erie train 3, due at Jamestown at 12:20 p.m. was wrecked at the Mahoney brick yard in the eastern part of the city today. The train had just crossed the Dexterville bridge and was running at a high rate of speed when it came to the Mahoney road crossing. Like other crossings this is planked between the tracks. Teams have been hauling gravel across this of late and it seems that an especially hard stone had rolled off a wagon and become wedged between the planking and the rails. When the engine struck this it was derailed going into the ditch about ten feet below and dragging after it two express and two baggage cars.

     In appearance the wreck was one of the most serious that every occurred on the Nypano division of the Erie, and that it was attended with no loss of life is miraculous.

     The only serious injury was to the fireman, William Smith of Greenville, who was quite badly scalded about the legs.

     James A. Williams of Salamanca, the engineer, was also bruised somewhat, but not seriously.

     J. W. Bonsor of Salamanca, a baggageman, was also slightly bruised, but did not stop work.

     In answer to a question as to how he escaped death, Engineer Williams answered:

     “It was providential.”

     And so it seemed to all who saw the wrecked train. The engine was smashed and lay almost buried in the soft mud. The two baggage cars, in which were baggagemen Scott and Bonsor were completely demolished, and the mail and express cars, occupied by Hagon and Nutting were in a like condition – ends and sides both knocked out and lying some distance from the track, but right side up.

     One passenger car, the smoker, was also derailed, but did not leave the track far.

     None of the Pullman cars left the rails. E. J. Scott who was in the express car is a son of Thos. Scott the switch tender at the Main street crossing, his people living on Stow street. He had just finished his Jamestown bills when the crash came and he was thrown with force on to the stove. He was slightly bruised.

     Postal Clerk D. S. Hogan of Salamanca received a severe bruise on the right shoulder. He was thrown to the floor and buried beneath mail bags and splinters of the car.

     H. D. Nutting of Randolph, the other postal clerk, escaped without injury. Their escapes from death were miraculous.

     Edward Guree of Jersey City was conductor in charge of the Pullman cars. He thought the train was not running over 15 miles an hour when she left the track.

     The postal clerks of the Jamestown office were at the wreck and assisted in transferring the mail matter to the post office where it was re-sorted.

     Miss Sophia Hall was among the passengers on train 3 today, returning from Amherst, Mass., where she has been attending school.

     Mrs. George Harmon was on train 3 today. She came from Boston and will visit Mrs. Melin.

     The photographer with his little camera was early on hand to secure view of the wreck.

     A number of a thousand of people walked down to view the wreck. The street cars also did a thriving business.

     J. T. Larmonth and C. M. Reed were on a street car opposite the wreck when the train left the track. They were the first on the scene of the disaster. The Journal is under obligation to Mr. Reed for services rendered in securing details.

     Alderman John F. O’Connell and bride were among the passengers on the ill-fated train.

     Drs. W. M. Bemus, Hall, Wellman, Phillips, were early at the wreck looking after the injured.

     Dr. Bemus cared for Fireman Smith, who was taken to the hospital. He reports him quite ably scalded below the knees, but fear no serious results.

     An extra train 3 was made up at this station and will transfer the baggage, express and mail matter and passengers some time this afternoon.

# # #

Another angle of the train Derailment in Jamestown, N.Y. on June 8, 1893. (Image from the photo archives of the Chautauqua County Historical Society, Westfield, N.Y.)

– J. Sample, Chautauqua County Historical Society

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