West Shore Wreck of October 1st, 1883

Town of St. Johnsville

Montgomery County, NY

A May 1953 reprint in the Palatiner

The site of the wreck is just across the present bridge to S. St. Johnsville, on the south side of the Mohawk River.

Sad Disaster

At about one P.M. on Monday, (October 1, 1883) a collision occurred on the West Shore road a short distance west of Diefendorf hill, between the Syracuse Express, bound west and the Albany Local, eastward bound. The trains should have met and passed one another at Fort Plain. The Albany Local was behind time, and the Syracuse Express, after waiting some minutes at Fort Plain was ordered to proceed to St. Johnsville and accordingly went on. The operator at St. Johnsville was in the act of receiving the order for the Albany local to switch at his station, when the train appeared. Following from the Amsterdam Daily Democrat is the operators' own account. "I was receiving the order for train No. 72, to branch here for No. 61, and before I was finished I heard No. 72 coming. My red flag was hanging out of the office in plain sight of the engineer. Before I could finish the dispatch, the train came thundering along, and I ran out of my office, grabbed the red flag and swung it across the track, but Lyons shook his head and went on." Several citizens substantiate this statement, and that he ran behind the train swinging his flag. He then hastened back to his office and was found on the floor unconscious from excitement.

Meantime the train proceeded, and while running at a rapid rate, encountered the Syracuse Express at the curve at Diefendorf hill. The wreck was instantaneous and terrible. One of the locomotives was destroyed, the other was left on end with its boiler in an upright position. The baggage car and smoking car of the Syracuse Express was telescoped and the baggage car of the Albany Local was totally wrecked.

Following are the casualties: Michael Lyons, engineer of the Albany Local, was pinned beneath the boiler of this engine and died in a short time. James W. Wheelock of Ephratah, a passenger seated in the smoking car of the Syracuse Express was instantly killed. Henry Cool of Ephratah, a passenger, had his skull fractured and may die. Albert Newman of Nelliston, left leg broken and head cut. Shuler Failing of Fort Plain, two ribs broken. Harrison Saltsman of Stone Arabia, collar bone broken. Many others were slightly injured, sustaining cuts and bruises.

wrecked Albany Local train, October 1, 1883">

Larger View of Wreck - 326k

Back to Town of St. Johnsville Page

Back to Montgomery County NYGenWeb

Copyright © 1953 The Palatiner
Copyright © 1999 Montgomery County NYGenWeb
Scan and article courtesy: Joyce Berry