• Rochdale, MA 9/11/68

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

  by QB 52.32
Sometime after midnight in the early hours of Wednesday, September 11, 1968, residents of the village of Rochdale awoke to the thunder of an eastbound train coming down the hill from Charlton Depot piling up in the curve just east of the French River bridge 52.81. 58 cars of the 86-car train derailed in an area about .2 miles long with reports of cars piled 3 high. Local lore recalls the type of cargo scattered about the wreck, including giveaways the likes of televisions and butter, as well as witness accounts of canned corn, newsprint and rubber blocks scattered along the right-of-way. Though the NH merger with the young NYC/PRR-merged company was still months away, from the latter description it would seem the train was carrying a NH (Readville) block. Service resumed later that afternoon on the #2 track with trains creeping through at slow speed. The official cause of the derailment was mechanical failure, though apparently the reason was the crew fell asleep with estimated speed in the 40 mph curve exceeding 70 mph as the train rolled downgrade. It took years to fully clean the wreck up and dig out a variety of freight car parts bulldozed underground in the initial hours to re-open the railroad. Undoubtedly, this particular derailment, one of many in the succeeding years as New England's railroads deferred maintenance, holds the region's record for sheer size.
  by QB 52.32
Among the many derailments during the deferred maintenance period ~1963-76, including 29 cars involving 5 tank cars of LPG in Zoar, MA, a chlorine tanker among 9 cars in Charlton, MA, a tank car of LPG among 8 cars in Westminster, MA, a tank car leaking alcohol among 14 cars in the Jamesville section of Worcester, MA , an occupied home smashed and set ablaze by a boxcar among 24 cars in Lancaster, MA, a tank car of liquid oxygen among 30 cars in Ayer, MA, and a tank car of liquid carbon dioxide left dangling over a Southbridge St. embankment among 3 cars in Worcester, MA, was the biggest of all, 58 cars in Rochdale, MA. Worcester Telegram & Gazette file photo and attached 9/11/68 Worcester Evening Gazette and 9/12/68 Worcester Morning Telegram news articles.

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  by rustyrails
I stumbled upon this post. I do remember this wreck from many moons ago!
  by QB 52.32
Across those many moons, my memory had the railroad re-opened that same afternoon, but after looking over those Worcester Telegram & Gazette articles see it took until the following afternoon given the pileup. I believe the first train through was westbound BV-3 running about 8 hours late with only track# 2 open at that point.

I also gather that it was BA-4 that derailed and had also, most-seriously among the high frequency of that time, derailed the tank car of poison inhalation hazard compressed chlorine gas just 5 miles to the west at the top of the hill in Charlton Depot only 6-8 months prior.