• Glendon wreck - 1961

  • Discussion related to the Lehigh Valley Railroad and predecessors for the period 1846-1976. Originally incorporated as the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad Company.
Discussion related to the Lehigh Valley Railroad and predecessors for the period 1846-1976. Originally incorporated as the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad Company.

Moderator: scottychaos

  by rj82much
The purpose of this post is to determine if anyone recalls a wreck in Glendon, PA in May, 1961. It really did happen & I have 5 very poor quality photographs documenting it. (I was a kid at the time & used my Brownie Duoflex).

Three of the pictures are of the caboose ("Hack" per my Dad) that was hit. None with any identifying numbers. One of these does show the 2, round end-windows & the single-piece rail of the "U" style roof ladder. There may be other clues to the idenity as well, to an experienced eye.

Really interesting to me, is another of the pictures shows a style of LV locomotive with engineer forward/rounded front. The first number is a "5". There is a middle power unit (fuel?). I do not know why it is in the picture - either part of the crashed main-line freight or perhaps used to deliver clean-up equipment & crew? It seems to be upright on the track, alongside the wreck?

How was I involved? and how did I come to stand on the tracks about 2-4 hours after the collision? My Dad drove home to assure us that he was fine, then needed to return to the scene to recover his duffle, lunch box, & Thermos from his caboose locker, & asked if I wanted to come. His Thermos came out of the twisted & mangled wreckage unscathed, including warm coffee

A short form of his side of the story was that his work train/switcher had to enter the main line to return to a yard in Easton. He sensed something was wrong. His fellow crewmen mocked him. He said he would walk back to the yards, but he needed to get off & investigate his feeling of danger. It was real as the high-speed freight rounded the curve. Dad had broken railroad rules, having left his flags on the hack. He used a newspaper to attempt to flag the freight. Many lives were saved because his crew was watching "crazy Jarvis" running along the track waving a newspaper. Thats why they saw what was coming & got off in time. I don't believe radios were in use at that time, so there may not have been any way to warn their own engineer & fireman.

The part I don't understand is I seem to recall that the oncoming freight engineer was either hurt very bad or killed. You would have thought that would appear in some report? Also, there was considerable property damage. I remember quite a few cars laying around & over the embankment into the Lehigh canal. Certainly Dad's caboose was scrapped, the lead freight engine needed extensive repair. As this occured just prior to the sale of the LVRR, maybe it was hushed up?

I note that the typical wreck-report goes to great length to blame the trainmen employees. I seem to recall there may have been differening views as to cause of this one. It'd be interesting to hear if anyone recalls the event, as well as what their take was on the cause.

I'm working out details of just how to post the high-resolution scans of the wreck. Also, it turns out that my Dad had saved every scrap of his paperwork. I should be able to locate the date of the accident in his log & time records & perhaps provide his engine number & any other pertinent information.

All of this because of a recent train ride our local Berkshire Scenic Railway tourist ride - these
fabulous memories came flooding back.

Bob Jarvis
Thanks for the photo. Got the rest to share? The loco pictured is a "400" series loco, an early RS-11, low nose. (Alco DL-701) They were numbered 400-403. The Valley never lost a diesel, in a wreck. (they were all rebuilt, none scrapped) The 403 received a new long hood, following wreck damage, but this was later in her career, and the wreck photo you have is on a loco less than a year old.
  by rj82much
Here are my very large scans of the 1961 wreck in Glendon. Forgive the file size, but those that want can examine individual rivets!

http://members.aol.com/rj82much/myhomep ... ottom1.jpg

http://members.aol.com/rj82much/myhomep ... ottom2.jpg

http://members.aol.com/rj82much/myhomep ... osharp.jpg

http://members.aol.com/rj82much/myhomep ... dsharp.jpg

http://members.aol.com/rj82much/myhomep ... esharp.jpg

The 1st photo, called "Hackbottom1.jpg" has the front end of the "Mystery Locomotive" in the background. Why was it so close to the site of the wreck only a few hours after it occured?

The 3rd photo, called Mysterylocosharp.jpg has the side of the lead unit & middle unit showing an engine number starting with "5" on the lead. No doubts that it is Lehigh Valley equipment, including the "broken" unit.
  by BR&P
This is speculation, based on the photos and the narrative.

The Alco obviously was involved, and appears rather significantly damaged in the nose. In the third photo, it appears the rear truck of the loco at right is on the ground.

My guess is the consist was the Alco in the lead, followed by A-B-A F7's. When that train hit the work train, it punted the caboose off the track and onto its side, (aided by the curve of the track) and continued derailing cars of the work train until things came to a halt. Probably in the third photo, the Alco would be found ahead of the far covered wagon.

An amazingly high number of these cabooses existed to fairly recent times. I do show the 95115 as scrapped at Packerton 6-28-63. It is possible the wrecked caboose was stored a while pending either litigation, or perhaps a decision whether to rebuild, then cut up a few years after the crash.
  by BR&P
Have you checked newspaper archives in nearby cities? It appears to be a fairly serious wreck, especially if there was injury or fatality as you suggest. Likely there was some mention of it in the news.

Also, a '66 Official Guide does not show Glendon PA as being on any rail line. It locates just south of Easton, do you have more specifics on location?
  by rj82much
I am really so happy to get this information. These photos have been hanging around all these years awaiting technology to catch up.

Is it concievable then, that the alco was picked up, set back on it's trucks, sent into the local shop to have what amounts to minor surgery (brake handwheel, a couple hand railings, electrical connectors (what are they for? -syncronizing the motor drives?), touchup paint & back to work?

Though the equipment is huge, it could have been a relatively "soft" impact, thanks to the rail curvature & perhaps empty cars? Maybe this wasn't such a nasty wreck?

Ha Ha Ha, I follow most of the terminology, & truly enjoy reading it, but I'm stumped on the "covered wagon". I enjoyed listening to my dad talk business as well, though it was very rare that he would share it. I was just a disagreeable, moody, punk teenager so he probably figured it was a waste of time.

Looking forward to additional comments

Bob J
  by rj82much
Glendon was not a stop. I think it was just the name of the area they passed through. I believe one of the 2 tracks was a Valley main (whatever that means). Perhaps the other was another company's operating in the region. It could be that Dad's work train serviced Bethlehem Steel, or perhaps smaller customers on spurs off the mainline all along the Lehigh Canal. I remember him talking about a paint manufacturer where they hauled carloads of pigment.

I used to hear him mention Richard's Yard often in those days. Also, Easton Yard. Is it possible they closed Richard's? He used to show me the bridge they crossed the Delaware on. He was my hero to have to sit in the middle of those rickety (looking) spans. I read that the engineers had to back into Phillipsburg (P'burg) to get a running start to head over the bridge & possibly up a grade in the direction of the wreck.

The Easton Express was the local newspaper. Their online archives don't go far enough back. I think it would actually require a trip to the newspaper office. The next time I go to the area, I'll take Mom out for a little dinner but we'll have to stop at the news company first. Also, I'll dig out all of my Dad's time records to see what I can find. They are unbelievably detailed.

Bob J
  by BR&P
I would suggest starting with the Easton Public Library. Most libraries have back issues of the local newpapers either on disc or on microfiche. You could contact them - most libraries will look information up for you if you are out of town - depending on how far away you live the modest fee they probably charge might be worthwhile.
  by JimBoylan
rj82much wrote:I'm stumped on the "covered wagon".
Diesel loco with almost no side railings, the body "cover" goes all the way to the edges, and walkways are inside the body cover.
  by BR&P
This isn't a proper railroad term, but as a kid with a Lionel you might have referred to one as a "streamliner".
Thanks for those extra shots. The wrecked hack is easily seen in the first picture. I could see where the third pic shows a truck on the ground, possibly. That Alco took a good shot, but unless it was leading the bombers, it seems unlikely they were part of the wreck. The first rule of mainline derailments is: clear the main, and move the trains. Another track is too valuable to leave blocked. It could be those EMD's are passing the wreck, but the pic isn't clear enough to tell if they are on the ground, or not.
For what it's worth, when running eastbound into Glendon, there's a cut stone retaining wall that begins west of the town, on the south side. At the beginning of this wall, there was a switch, where the fourth main came into the second (IIRC) If you stopped a train under the front door of the Glendon motel, you would be able to get a run on "The Hill", if you had tonnage to run east. This was the last place to stop, and not be on the grade. Richards would have been a better stop, but sometimes you had to wait at Glendon, to clear the XO's at Richards. If you pulled down to Easton, you were doomed, for pulling a tonnage train east. ( I was forced to pull to Easton by Big Mike one day, after having stopped at Glendon, much to my chagrin. After sitting out a westbound parade, I finally got the railroad. I crossed the Deleware in the 8th at walking speed, and I finally reached West Portal, almost 2 hours later. I never got above 8 mph, and we crested at under 3 mph) I can easily imagine a train getting a run at the E&N, (westbound) and making an unwanted coupling onto that drill job, in 1961. If it was a Lehighton train, it's hard to imagine it got by the signals, and rear ended the hack. More info is a must.....I have a list of LV wrecks and collisions somewhere around here, and if it has this wreck listed, I will post it. :wink:
  by BR&P
GA - 3 reasons to suspect the EMD's were involved:

1. Rear truck of the "A" unit appears to be on the ground, wheels inside the rail. Compare the journal height and spring hanger height when compared with the unit just ahead.

2. Hard to tell but it almost appears the B unit has one wheel outside the rail, far axle from the photographer. there is SOMETHING there but can't quite tell what.

3. Note the guys standing around. They seem to be casually passing time. If the F's were passing by in close proximity to the wreck, most of those guys would be watching carefully instead of shooting the bull. Not only do the rules require observation of passing trains, but in this case human nature would prompt just about everybody to watch at least the locos if they were creeping by.
  by BR&P
Went through my LV caboose data. If it is correct, there are only 2 cabooses that this could be *IF* it was scrapped, not repaired and returned to service. The 95022 was in Manchester NY in spring 1960 but I don't see it around after that. Not to say it was wrecked, just has not surfaced on anything I have written down.

However if I'm correct, that would NOT have the 2 porthole windows on the end, while the one in the wreck does. The 95115 mentioned in my above post would have had those windows. So it would appear this might well have been the 95115.
  by scottychaos
very interesting photos!
thanks for sharing them..

some more clarification on the locomotives involved..

you have an Alco RS11, only four units of this style on the LVRR (with a "low nose" anyway)
here is a photo of one of them:


And the "covered wagons" are EMD F-units..
the one with the windows is an "A-unit", and the one in the center is a "B-unit"..
the B-unit is still a complete functional locomotive, but without a cab, and it needs at least one A-unit attached for it to function,
the B-unit is also often called a "booster"..

F-unit picture, an EMD F3 in this case:

Since we cant see complete numbers in your photos, its hard to tell which exact LV units are involved,
but the links show what locomotives of the type would look like.

  by IRN750
I have heard guys talk about this wreck. Your dad was on a yard job coming off the South Side branch at Lucy Curve from what I've been told the eastbound had just set off or picked up at Richards yard and was east of the signals at East Richards and proceeded east running into the rear end of the drill which had come off the branch. I'll have to ask my brother if he remembers the engine number of the 400 class unit . I knew your dad Bob he was a very nice man he was nearing the end of his days on the railroad when I was just starting out there.