• Sabotage on the International Railway in 1922...

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by jimpellow
Thanks for the info. As for Shaw Road being an early name for Sheridan, anything is possible back then in terms of roads changing names frequently as you know. If true it would have had to have been restricted to the planning stage. Articles during the construction and completion (1924-25) refer to it as Sheridan Drive. I have wondered if there was a road before where Sheridan was constructed. I don't believe so as it doesn't appear on any maps and it was stated that Sheridan was built through farmland. But perhaps there was a lane or such (Shaw?) in that area for a short time before.

BTW, the stone ramp that was slightly to the north on the eastern side that remained for a while. Do you know the history of that. That area does seemed to have had some activity on the early maps in relation to the railroad.
  by jimpellow
I never was able to find a reference to Shaw Road. There is a mention in a written oral history of the area to a Shaf's farm being where the tracks and Sheridan met. Possible the old timer got the name wrong as no other reference to that either can I find.

I found a story about the sabotage and a witness to it named Oldag. It was rather detailed and seemed accurate. Found where his house was and I would estimate from that account and the totality of other references that it occurred half way between Harrison and Sheridan. Basically the conductor slowed down as he approached Elwood Station as he noticed the lights were out. There was no stop there as it was a special express. Then he started to speed up and was going between 30-50 when...crash. Oddly seems the lights in the cars went dim as he passed the station and then went out before the crash, but his testimony makes no mention of this. Maybe he wanted to portray himself as being unaware of these signs of potential danger including clouds of smoke and dust which he labelled fog.

Here is a thumbnail to a good quality picture that seems to have escaped making most of the rounds.

  by JoeS
Thanks for the picture. I had the thought that it might be interesting to have a marker or plaque placed at the exact spot along the new trail, referencing the incident. If we could ever exactly locate it.

In answer to your previous question regarding the stone ramp: as I recall, that ramp and a large raised platform were adjacent to the siding. The platform was at the same height as the boxcar floor so that dollies, fork lifts etc could be used to unload the cars.
  by jimpellow
And thanks for your info. The chances of finding the exact spot are fairly low I would think due to nothing really being in that area to reference it to and that line having been razed to ground level between Harrison and Sheridan. Think the best chance would to be run into someone older in the area whose father pointed it out. (Can you test for the residual of dynamite after a century? LOL)

The dynamite was supposedly hidden in a barn very close by the night before. But the Town's land records are lost. And the 1926 aerials show a vastly different landscape due to the speculation and laying of roads.

The Carl Lind collection may have the answer, but the Town let that collection escape and don't even know who has it. I have ruled out Buffalo State and the Buffalo History museum. Someone is supposedly working for me on it with UB...forever. May be at the Erie County Library. Supposed to be mostly tons of pics during that era, which was really the most influential and interesting in the Town's history.

I think a marker will be going up for it, but in the location North of Colvin. I know that the rational for that is wrong. They say it is due to the curve of Colvin being seen in one of the pictures. I can't see it and Colvin was not until 1924.

We will see...but I do like your idea.
  by jimpellow
Well, I was home for a couple weeks over Christmas, and did some walking as there was a nice absence of snow. There was a copycat sabotage event two years to the day where the first explosion was, but this time they targeted the Lockport trolley. This gave me the idea to look for ties from the initial explosion. Sure enough, I found an area with a good number of rather splintered ties in one small area, of the same type that were used for the high speed line. Nowhere else could I locate these, in fact it was hard to find ties from that line at all.

They were in the center ditch right about where Athens Boulevard to the east would run into the ROWs. A little before where I expected, but still fitting the witness description of the event. Sort of sad how an event that made national newspapers is so forgotten and in a location that looks so nondescript now. So I am going to stick with my spot unless I hear or come across something more compelling for elsewhere.
  by BR&P
jimpellow wrote:This gave me the idea to look for ties from the initial explosion. Sure enough, I found an area with a good number of rather splintered ties in one small area, of the same type that were used for the high speed line. Nowhere else could I locate these, in fact it was hard to find ties from that line at all.
Not totally impossible, but I'm a bit skeptical the ties would not have decayed into dirt over the past 90+ years.
  by jimpellow
Not being a railroader as I have stated before, I will take that into consideration.

The ties are rather black and do still possess the splintered nature of the splintered ones in a couple zoomed photos from the dynamiting scene. What i did notice is that they were, of what I believe you railroad gurus would call, smaller grade railroad ties for lighter rail traffic. One is hard pressed to find this size tie elsewhere in that entire section of the ROW. Maybe because of disintegration as you state, or maybe as the line(s) were scrapped.

I am confused if they scrapped one of the high speed lines in 1936 and the other in 1938, or held off from the first announcement to scrap one line (to save on maintenance costs) and just did them together as it was in its death throes anyways.

The larger ties associated with freight traffic are more common of course along the now bike path, both older and newer which I guess would have been replacement ties.

The most westerly of course was the Erie and inside that was the Lockport trolley and IRC electric freight service. I am pretty sure this was leased from Erie. I am not sure if this was also used by Erie or the high speed line, in certain sections. I would think as a non-railroader that this line would be larger grade ties? That would leave the smaller grade ties to the IRC by default?
  by MSD
I found this thread very interesting since I was unaware that this section of track was actually a double track (IRC and Erie). I used to hang out at this/these tracks (from Main Street to around O'hara High school) when I was young and now in hindsight it explains some of the things I used to come across while traversing them.
What I do find puzzling is that most maps show the IRC track on the east and Erie track on the west, but up at the trestle near Shoshone park the track was offset towards the east abutment which won't leave a lot of room for a parallel track to the east. Plus, if my memory serves me correctly, as you headed north from the trestle there used to be a lot of short telegraph poles to the west of the Erie track which let me to believe that a second set of tracks were on the west side of the existing track not the east. These telegraph poles were pretty far away from the existing Erie track.
Equally interesting is that the Tonawanda bike trail outline puts the IRC sabotage event just north of O'hara High school which is further down than what I expected after reading this thread....
  by MSD
Did a little research on the IRC sabotage thing and in the article I read it stated that the perpetrators fled on Schell Road not Shaw Road. Schell Road; sometimes refered to as Schell Ave or Shell Rd; is what became Brighton Road. The other road mentioned in the article is Englewood Road which may or may not be a reference to Englewood Ave (formerly Ely St.), or perhaps another street wore that name at one time such as Belmont Ave or the Niagara Falls Blvd street which is labeled on many early maps prior to Colvin Blvd being put in. It could also be one of the many roads/paths (unlabeled on maps) that are seen in the aerial views from 1927 which were eliminated as the area was developed. So, it looks like the event did take place somewhere near where the I-290 (Youngmann) is.
  by JoeS
Based on jimpellow's location of the Elwood station, and your report of the perps fleeing on Shell Rd, I now think the accident may have happened between Colvin and Brighton. This is "about a mile" north of the Elwood station location.

I do think the rails-to-trails web site has the wrong accident listed in locations 18 and 19. There was another wreck near that site, actually about 1/2 mile north at the south bank of Ellicott Creek where the IRC crossed over. This was a rear-end collision on October 19, 1924 resulting in 4 deaths and 96 injuries.
  by MSD
EDIT for my previous post: I misread the article and it states the event took place between Schell and Englewood roads. I found another somewhat more indepth article and it also gerenalizes the locale as between Schell and Englewood roads but goes into more depth stating just past the Elwood Station. Furthermore, the article mentions a local resisdent on Harrison Ave being approx. a quarter-mile from the scene. Additional article info states the approx location as three quarter mile beyond the Buffalo City limits.
Anyhow, based on this info it looks like the location may have been around the Harrison Ave, Moore Ave, and Athens Blvd area.
What puzzles me is the fact that the associated pictures of the accident show three sets of tracks???

I also think the rails-to trails web site may have gotten the info between the two separate events somewhat crossed....
  by JoeS
Regarding the three tracks - here is a link to a 1915 atlas map of the Belmont Ave crossing: http://www.historicmapworks.com/Map/US/ ... /New+York/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

To me it looks like three tracks on the map, in that area. Could have been a passing siding on the IRC, or the Erie NF branch may have been double tracked with a single track IRC line. I expect the passing siding explanation is correct.
  by MSD
Ya, the Zimmerman insert does show three sets of tracks...Very interesting. Well, based on the accident pictures that would lead one to believe that the IRC trolley was running on one of the NF branch lines rather than on the IRC electric line...
  by DanielKj
The 1915 map is not very helpful, as the High-Speed line was not built until 1918. It was 2-track its entire distance, as far as I've ever known.