• 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
I have been sitting back "listening to the chatter" in fascination. I am learning so much. The icing on the cake is IRN750's comments about my Dad. I had hoped that someone on these forums had remembered him. He said he hated the railroad, but I always knew that wasn't quite true. He once bought a record of steam engine sounds & I watched tears roll from his eyes while listening to it... Hmmmm, hated the railroad? It was in his blood.

In his final days, he did everything he could do to defy the new railroad rules (Conrail?). Safety glasses & hardhat really bugged him. I overheard him telling his friends how he would break them on a daily basis so that he had to work the shift without his safety equipment. I don't recall a bad word for fellow crew members. You all depended on each other, I assume. There was a union rep that he had a lot of respect for, though the name escapes me right now (Maybe Jim?).

The discussion regarding the men standing around chatting along side of the F unit - I would have never analyzed it that way. Fascinating to know that railroaders would never be ignoring a moving train. I just knew that you guys would be able to put some perspective into what ever happened. Neither my Mom nor myself know a lot about Dad's life on the job. He just didn't discuss it often or in detail.

One day when I was older, much after the Glendon wreck, a freight stopped along the Alpha line near where we lived. I think this line may have led to the Green Island bridge in P'burg. It sat there, engines idling for many hours. Dad asked me if I wanted to take a walk down with him to investigate. No-one was around (that we saw). He spent a lot of time explaining about the deisel unit, though, he made sure that we didn't approach too closely. I don't remember the resolution. I just remember how special those few occasions were.

Thank you everyone for the discussion. I'll try to get more information to contribute. IRN, looking forward to your brother's word.

Bob J
  by IRN750
The train was BNE-2 and the lead unit was the 402. the trailing units are those shown in your picture the 3 f units. The job your dad was on was called the Passenger Drill which went on duty at South Easton Engine house. It would switch around Easton yard and work the South Side Branch plus deliever cars to PRR, EL, CNJ, L&H at P=Burg This crew worked daylight and Middle shift and it was still called the Passenger drill after Passenger service ended. The union man your dad talked about is JIm Reilly who is well into 90's now and still attends the oldtimer reunions. If you ever went to these reunions with your dad when he was in the wheel chair I'm sure you met Jim.
  by rj82much
I have stumbled upon a treasure trove of information regarding the Glendon wreck that occured August 4, 1961 at about 2pm.

* My Dad's time book with his notes regarding the event
* My Dad's work instructions from superintendent A.J.Ferentz
* Transcript of the August 28, 1961 investigation & list of persons present
* Easton Express August 5, 1961 newspaper article & photograph
* Chairman Reilly's letters to get the 60 demerit punishment against my Dad overturned.

At the moment, I cannot post actual photo's of the documents thanks to my ISP (AOL) discontinuance of storage space & my resultant cancelation of subscription service with them. New services are in the works.

In addition to the wreck date & time above, Dad's time book records that the local work train was powered by Engine 216, a DRS-2 1600HP ALCO, date 1950. According to the LV investigation, the local 's caboose was #95115, w/2 round windows, scrapped 6/28/1963, at the Packerton Yd, Lehighton, PA. Newspaper account reports the caboose as "demolished". The local was made up of the deisel switcher, 4 box cars (or 5 according to superintendent), and the caboose. "They had just come from Transogram with a load of toys." (or Easton Coal & Lumber according to superintendent) Apparently, only the caboose was derailed on the work train.

Local crew members were:
* Frank Murray, brakeman (head helper)
* John Emele, engineer
* John Broscious Jr, fireman
* George Rymand, conductor (yard foreman)
* Eugene Jarvis, flagman (rear helper)

The 4-unit deisel "eastbound from Buffalo, NY" rammed the local freight. The report states that 4 deisel units & 3 box cars were derailed. Dad's testimony also stated that BNE-2 consisted of 4 engines. I cannot find a car count, or engine numbers confirmation for the BNE-2.

BNE-2 crew members were:
* Paul Bulger, fireman - concussion & body bruises
* Russell Race, engineer - cuts, bruises & scrapes
* Frank Gallagher, engineer (carrier witness) - wrist injuries
* Frank Bennett, conductor - knee bruises & scrapes
* Clarence Barr Sr., engineer (carrier witness)

At this point, the testimony & reports degraded into "he-said, he-said". BNE-2 crew states they "threw engines into emergency". Dad testified that the diesels were under "full power" as #3 & 4 rolled past him. It was stated that Mr Bennett was on the catwalk, but their crew said they never saw Jarvis till just before the caboose collision. It was reported by Ryman that BNE-2 was held at Richards with "air trouble." Presumably the report originated, by phone, from towerman F. Sutton. Obviously BNE-2 departed Richards. etc etc.

If any readers of this account object, I will gladly remove names or references. I can understand this could potentially be an open wound. Contact me at [email protected] to express concern. It had become a hot topic to Dad because the accesment of demerits on his record for not preventing the wreck, really stuck in his crawl. Having only heard his side, & my not being a "company man" to any company, I cannot comprehend to type of treatment LV metted out to employees. And still, there is a fond attachment to the LV by it's employees. How does that happen?

  by BR&P
Great info, thanks for sharing the follow-up. So the caboose number was correct, and the units of the through freight were in fact on the ground.

Personally I see no problem with naming names. Nobody HERE is pointing fingers, and it is a fact that the company - right or wrong - assigned the findings that it did. And you have noted that there was disagreement about whether or not the results were proper. Since most of those involved are probably deceased anyway, I doubt there is anything improper about reporting what the "official" version said. (Especially since your Dad was one of those blamed - if it does not bother you, why not give details?)

I can't say "why" the LV assessed discipline as they did in this case. Anyone who actually works for a railroad - and there are quite a few on here - will tell you that the "official" version is not always what DID happen, and those who are shown to be at fault sometimes are, and sometimes are not. That's just the way it is. Also, just about anyone who works a full career on a railroad will at some time or other be found at fault for SOMETHING. That does not mean they were incompetent or poor workers, just that they were human, or that they were the one the company hung the blame on that particular time.
  by BR&P
Just noticed - 3 of the 5 crewmen on the through freight show in your post as "engineer". Was that a typo on your part, or is that what the record shows?
  by rj82much
Thanks BR&P for the words of wisdom. I know how careful & cautious my Dad always was & that is why I proudly provided the details that I uncovered. I merely recognized that anyone here could have been involved & even on the other side of the witness table & don't want to incite any conflict. The event is long past, & now is just a note in a very fascinating history.

That is what the record shows. The two additional engineers were called to testify at the hearing as "Carrier Witnesses". I'm wondering if they were hitching a ride back to home, much as airline crewmembers do, perhaps riding in the cab. Is there room for 3 the cab? With the addition of the fireman, for sure that would be a crowd?

Per the Easton Express newspaper, Frank A. Gallagher, engineer, 63, of 277 Mercer St, Phillipsburg.

It appears as though C Barr was not injured. His name does not appear in the newspaper account & therefore I have no record of his home address. However, in superintendent A.J. Ferentz's October 19, 1961 letter of findings, he states that by their own admissions, BNE-2's engineer and the two carrier witnesses, "engineers F Gallagher & C Barr, did not understand the restricted speed rule."

The report continues that "engineer Frank Gallagher" made no mention of emergency application. But, "Engineer Barr's" statement said that (Engineer) Race threw it in emergency.

Included with the transcript of my father's testimony is an Appendix A list of persons present at the August 28,1961 investigation where Race, Barr, and Gallagher are listed as engineers

Engineer Emele was apparently not present at the investigation.
  by BR&P
It's possible the other two were deadheading - riding home or to work, but not on duty. Rather interesting, though, because there should have been at least one brakeman on the head end, in addition to the fireman and the engineer who actually was running the train (apparently Mr. Race).

It is fortunate that nobody was seriously injured or killed - cuts, scrapes and bruises are far better than it might have been.

There are all sorts of things that COULD have factored into this. What authority were the trains running on? Did BNE2 have the right to be there? From the one quote you gave, it sounds like they were supposed to be operating at Restricted Speed, which would have required them to stop short of a train ahead - which obviously they did not. With or without a flagman, *IF* they were alert and at proper speed they should have stopped short of the caboose.

As for the local, were they authorized to be there? If so, what precautions should THEY have taken? Rules say when a train is moving under circumstances where it may be overtaken by a following train, lighted fusees must be thrown off .....and if your Dad got off without his flagging equipment, yes, that could be subject to criticism. But neither of those issues trumps the apparent "restricted speed" violation. And as said before, there could be other facts which never were made part of the OFFICIAL record.

Old wreck reports are a fascinating glimpse at how things used to be. It's interesting that many of the causes are still present today. Failure to comply with Restricted Speed, which MAY have been the cause here, is STILL a cause of collisions to this day. That's why you may hear today's railroaders tell how they encountered a "banner test" or "fusee test" to be sure they are living up to the regulation.

Once again, I am discussing possible causes in the spirit of understanding what happened, not passing judgment on those involved. But obviously SOMEBODY screwed up big time! Thanks for sharing the information, and glad we could help you understand some of the terminology etc.
  by rj82much
I was careful to include all names from the various lists & reports. No mention of BNE2 head end brakeman nor the rear end crew either.

I am fortunate to have 6 pages of the superintendent's "statement of fact", 5 pages of Dad's testimony, and the full newspaper report as well as 6 photographs from the scene. It is a lot of data to doll out. (though please understand, I'm enjoying sharing it)

From primarily my Dad's testimony, I believe his drill train had the authority to be on the main line and I believe the BNE2 was supposed to be held at Richards. Here are some more quotes:

"... we arrived at the split rail derail & stopped (at the top of the hill). Forman Rymond went down for orders. ...after a time, the crossing bells started to ring. ... We pulled down to the derail. Because of branches & trees, I could not see from one end to the other. ... We pulled down to the regular derail, electric lock, but can't see engineer because of trees. Engineer stops when he feels he is over the derail. He wasn't, we wait a few seconds & he starts. Rymond throws the derail & we went on. By the time I made the steps, I heard a noise like an engine. ... Rymond told me that BNE2 was at Richards with air trouble." He then describes first sighting of a moving lead engine & car tops through the trees.

He agreed that he had completed "handling of the electric lock switch" & got on the bottom step of the caboose. The caboose was still on the branch, not clear of the switch.

He (Jarvis) left the train because he heard noises & because Rymond told him BNE2 "was up there". "I thought it was BNE2 coming at restricted speed."

Later, Dad measured the distance he was back as 378 feet & stated that was sufficient distance to protect. He cited "rule 513".

Yard forman did not have time to order him to protect per "rule 99".

Dad was asked if he was familiar with "rule 514" and "rule 101" and "rule 106" ("afirmative" to each)

A question about trainman Murray's position was answered that after he "opened the derail & got on the crossing, he got on the motor". He was not visible because of weeds & curvature.

Superintendent's statement of fact addresses permissions (Note: these seem to be quotes of the superintendent in a letter by Chairman Jim Reilly - kind of confusing):
After the train stopped to clear the Glendon Rd end of the split rail, Rymond went to phone 600 ft from the split rail. Trainman Murray recieved signal from forman Rymond to close the split rail. After train cleared the derail, Jarvis opened & locked it open. After 600 feet, they arrived at the "electric locked derail (hoptoad type)" where forman Rymond was standing & then closed the derail. Apparently, this is when he told Jarvis that BNE2 was at Richards.

Superintendent says Jarvis contends he was 600 feet plus car's length up on the south-side spur when his forman received telephone instructions from towerman Sutton.

Unfortunately, towerman Sutton's testimony, as well as others, is/are not part of Dad's documentation. Does anyone have access to old, old LV records, if they still exist?

The lighted fusee comment is interesting to me. There was no mention of fusees. To properly comply, I suspect that Dad should have been dropping (or waving?) lit fusees as he ran up the main track, not that it would have done any good, or even been a realistic way to spend the 1½ minutes he claims to have had. But, it likely was one of those rules he agreed that he was aware of (?).

I have a question... is all of the derailing equipment on the spur? What protection does a drill train have when it enters a main track? How (in 1961) do other mainline occupiers know they could be sharing a rail, either approaching or overtaking?

I'm looking forward to all responses,
  by BR&P
I'm sure that in THIS case, if your Dad was supposed to be dropping fusees, it would have come up in the hearing. There are situations where it is not required and apparently this was one of them.

Rule 99 is (was) the flagging rule - "When a train is stopped in circumstances where it may be overtaken by a following train, flagman must immediately take proper flagging equipment and go back a sufficient distance to ensure safety of his train....." or words quite similar.

I'd have to refer to an LV rule book to check the other rules....I'm sure they are well known, just the number does not ring a bell.

Sounds like the industrial track was protected by a split rail derail, which is like half a switch, and then another derail which was part of the signal circuit. From the sound of it, when your Dad's crew first operated that derail, it should have set signals to warn BNE2 that something was going on ahead.

A locomotive is sometimes called a "motor" - so it sounds like Trainman Murray lined the derail to allow the train to proceed, then got back on the engine.

IF I read your quotes right - Rymond the foreman (Conductor) walked AHEAD of the train, called on the phone, and got permission to open up. He signalled Murray to close the derail (line it for movement). Your Dad was on the rear end, and lined the split rail into the derailing position again after the train pulled by. The foreman stayed at the electrically locked derail, and when the caboose and your Dad got there, it was restored to the derailing position. That's when he allegedly told your Dad that BNE2 was at Richards. The Superintendent says your Dad was 600 feet (from the phone to the split rail derail) plus ____ car lengths (the length of the train) away from the conductor when Rymond was told about BNE2. I'm not sure where this is going - it sounds like the super feels your Dad would not have known where BNE2 was, but that is explained by the conductor staying at the second derail until the hind end arrived, and told him (Jarvis) then.

Unfortunately I'm headed out of town and will have limited to no access to this forum for a while. I'll try to pick it up again when I get back, or if I get a chance in the meantime.
  by rj82much
This feels like the TV program, "Cold Case", eh? heh heh

Just so you all know, I'm not lying awake nights fretting over it. It's past, it's history. 60 demerits didn't seem to hurt him. But, as history, it is totally fascinating to see the inner workings of a railroad & it's procedures. To examine a particular incident using the slang & terms of the time. Much of the lingo carries forward to this day - some of it has faded thanks to more modern technology & equipment.

Imagine how different this story might have been if only 2-way radios had been in use by the LV at that time? Years later, I had asked my Dad why radios weren't used on his trains... As a gruff-old trainman, he didn't see the need. Ha Ha... If he had waited a few more years, he'd been hanging off a pole with a flashing red light at the end of his train! Times changed.

  by JKTRR
Mr. Jarvis.......The son of the fireman on the local - jon Broscious now a retired Amtrak conductor - would like to talk with you about this wreck!!!!! Might you e-mail me at [email protected] to arrange for the two of you to be connected!!! Thank you!!!!!!
  by wis bang
That makes sense. Coming off the South Side Industrial would drop them right in front of a train leaving richards.