They Dumped the Limited!
"They Dumped the Limited!" That's how I first heard that the NYC RR's Ohio State Limited was wrecked just north of Worthington. It was December 1965 and Columbus' I-270 outer belt was being constructed. The wreck took place on the south side of the construction of what would be an interstate highway bridge over the N&W and NYC railroads' tracks. The southbound Ohio State Limited, that normally would have been going at least 70 mph at this point, hit a large earth mover. Unfortunately the driver of the earth mover was killed and some of the train's passengers were injured. The Limited was knocked off the tracks with the two diesel locomotives ending up on their sides along with several cars jack knifed over the right-of-way.
The ICC accident report eventually blamed the accident on the NYC watchman who was paid for by the contractor. The Limited was several hours late and the day watchman was not aware that the train had not passed. He fell asleep, not aware of the train's approach he failed to warn the earth mover's driver.
The Ohio State Limited would have come up on the construction site very fast, although there may have been a slow order that reduced its speed somewhat. Perhaps the noisy earth mover plus a poor sight line due to shrubs and trees made it difficult for the poor driver to hear and see the on coming train.
There is some irony in this wreck as the interstate highway system by 1965 had pretty much already wrecked the passenger train business including the NYC RR's Cleveland - Cincinnati route through Columbus. Now the Ohio State Limited was all over the "corn field", as railroaders used to say, and put there by the industry contributing to its demise.
Here are some photos I took that cold December morning along with a couple from my collection taken the next day when the clean up was underway. Click here for a map of the crash scene.
200 dpi jpg (242K) - photo 9
The first photo is a panoramic view of the New York Central's Ohio State Limited in total disarray after hitting a piece of earth moving equipment at the I-270 construction site. The dirt ramp under construction for the bridge approach can be seen on the right. The two diesel locomotives are laying on their sides to the left with the train spread out between these two points. Most of the cars are off the track with some on their sides and some jack knifed across the right-of-way. The camera is pointed northwest. Photo by AJC
200 dpi jpg (317K) - Photo 3
The lead locomotive not only hit the earth mover, but it also took out the line pole seen draped over the engine. The train was south bound from Cleveland about 10 miles from Columbus Union Station when the accident happened. Photo by AJC
200 dpi jpg (277K) - Photo 5
Moving to the left the photographer caught a Norfolk And Western Railroad coal train passing the wreck scene. The N&W had taken over the Pennsylvania Railroad's Sandusky branch in October 1964. The N&W and NYC are side-by-side from Columbus to Delaware. The Ohio State Limited's baggage car is on its side. Photo by AJC
200 dpi jpg (263K) - Photo 6
A view taken from Wilson Bridge Road looking north. Photo by AJC
200 dpi jpg (265K) - Photo 4
The bottom of the lead unit, a view not often seen outside of the railroad shops. The truck is picking up mail and baggage from the train. Photo by AJC
200 dpi jpg (204K) - Photo 8
Jack knifed cars. Photo by AJC
200 dpi jpg (289K) - Photo 7
View looking north on the N&W RR tracks. People and vehicles are clustered around Wilson Bridge Road. Photo by AJC
200 dpi jpg (218K) - Photo 1
The next day the cleanup process started with the arrival of two wreck trains. Shown here is one steam powered big hook getting ready to lift the lead engine. On the right side of the photo behind a line pole you can see railroad officials clustered around a fire barrel. It looks like a man is standing on top of the crane. The photographer is standing on the interstate approach to the bridge that will eventually cross the tracks. The camera is pointed southwest with Wilson Bridge Road just beyond the wreck scene. Photo from the AJC collection.
200 dpi jpg (238K) - Photo 2
The lead engine has been set back on the tracks. Within a day or two the job will be done. Photo from AJC collection.
The last two photos are stamped, on the back, with "Rail Photo Collection of Howard W. Ameling, Fremont, Ohio."