Remembering the train wreck in 1941

February 11, 2010 —

By Hazel Pray Monahan

THIS CINCINNATI NORTHERN engine took a beating in its smokebox when it plowed into a stopped train in 1941. It’s shown here parked south of Mechanic Street.

CROWDS GATHERED in Hudson in 1941 to see the mess that was made when a northbound Cincinnati Northern train hit a stopped one at the overpass north of Main Street.

On Monday May 26, 1941 a train wreck occurred in Hudson that affected the two railroads that went through Hudson at the time: the New York Central went east-west and the Cincinnati Northern went north – south.

On that day about 6:15 PM a local freight train was stopped just north of Main Street at the coal and water station. The crew were up the street eating supper at Barnes Restaurant, as was their usual habit when stopped in Hudson. It is not known why they were still in Hudson as another northbound freight loaded with 100 coal cars carne around the bend. Not having enough air to stop, it smashed into the caboose, completely demolishing it. The impact pancaked one of the cars of the local freight on top of the moving locomotive, destroying the overhead New York Central trestle, which carried the line’s east-west traffic.

Another car of the standing freight, next to the caboose, was derailed and crashed through the cement block side of the nearby Harper Automobile Sales garage, wrecking two new motor cars inside. The garage mechanics, usually at work near the wall through which the freight car crashed, had quit work for the day shortly before the accident.

Engineer William May; fireman W A Fox and conductor Cary Eller, all of Van Wert, Ohio, were in charge of the moving freight. May and Fox, alone in the engine cab, leaped to safety when it appeared the crash was imminent. Fortunately no one was in the caboose either. Thus, no one was injured in the crash, which cost about $100.000.

Needless to say it caused quite a commotion in Hudson as a lot of citizens rushed to the site, giving us many photos of the accident.
The Hudson railroad wreck was the sensation of this entire section of the state for about 24 hours as it stopped railroad traffic on both railroad lines.

The CN brought two wreckers and crews here, and the NYC brought one from Toledo along with extra section men. Both roads were rapidly cleared and placed in repair. By Tuesday afternoon trains were passing over the NYC railroad and by late Wednesday they were also going through on the CN line.
Men were also put to work repairing the wall for the Harper Chevrolet Sales building and they were able to continue work there.
This particular spot in the railroad world was which might have been termed a strategic intersection. The wreck that occurred as it did, showed the damage that could be accomplished.

At that time, although the United States was not yet involved in WW II, there was a tremendous amount of freight being moved and it was important to keep the railroads open and every thing moving rapidly. Both railroads were congratulated on the rapidity with which they got the wreckage cleared, the road beds repaired and everything running smoothly once again.

If you look just to the north and west of the present Main Street Florist, you can see the remains of the stone foundation of that NYC-CN railroad site where the wreck occurred.

Does anyone else remember that day and the wreck? I can still remember the horrible sound that the crash made. We have many photos of the wreck at the museum. Railroads once played an important part in the earlier history of Hudson.