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Photo of the Month - October 2009

 A Day in the Park


Photo from the Citizen-Journal Collection, courtesy of the Grandview Public Library.

        If, like me, you have a view of our ancestors as serious sorts going about their business, this photo should disabuse you of that notion.  We have our demolition derbies and monster truck crushes.  They crashed trains for the fun of it.  This staged corn field meet took place at Buckeye Park located on the Hocking Valley Railroad north of Lancaster on Memorial Day 1896. 

        The event was widely advertised bringing fifteen train loads of people to the site.  The Hocking Valley built a double ended siding just for the event.  They also supplied two obsolete locomotives with three freight cars and a caboose each.  The train crew practiced for a week to get their timing down so they could start the trains at just the right time, at the right spot, with just the right throttle settings and steam pressure.  The trains were to meet head on in front of the viewing area -- a low hill. 

        The trains were spotted at there designated spots.  The firemen got the steam up on the two engines than got off.  At the signal the engineers set the throttles, quickly jumped off and the trains headed for their fate.  The planners and crews did their work well as the two engines met at 50 MPH just eight feet from their target spot.  One person was reported injured by flying debris while the engines were left pointing to the sky.

        Thanks to Rowlee Steiner and Edward Miller for the research behind this article.