Tragic Train Wreck of 1901

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In 1901, a tragic train wreck occurred involving a train that had left Sodus Point. A number of local residents were either killed or injured. Here is the story of the sad event: (Please note that this is an early account and a later recorded account listed the toll as 15 dead)


The train wreck at Zurich was on the Northern Central line on Aug. 29, 1901. The engine jumped the tracks. Excessive speed was probably a factor. Many were killed or injured from live steam. 13 died of their injuries. The train was returning to Newark from Sodus Bay. Among those killed were the Rev. A. Parke Burgess, D.D., and his wife Jeannette P. Burgess. Rev. Dr. Burgess had been pastor of Park Presbyterian Church in Newark from 1874 – 1900, before leaving for Syracuse to take the position of district superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League. The engineer, William Meagher, of Sodus Point, was also killed. The disaster was covered extensively, including by that of the Fairville Asteroid, a short-lived newspaper of Fairville, N.Y.



Six Met Death And 32 Hurt in Wreck Near Newark Yesterday.  Auburn New York Weekly Bulletin, August 30, 1901, page 2.

NEWARK, N. Y. Aug. 30–The worst wreck in the history of the Sodus Bay division of the Pennsylvania railroad, occurred at about 5:20 o’clock yesterday afternoon (August 29, 1901), when part of the Southbound passenger train, due in this village at 3:40 o’clock, left the track in the gravel cut about six miles North of Newark, between the Fairville and Zurich stations, and piled up the engine, tender, baggage car and two coaches.

The engine and tender were turned bottom side up between the smoker and the first coach and the escaping steam pouted in among more than a hundred passengers, who occupied the two cars, burning most of them severely.

No one escaped from either of these two cars without more or less injury.

A great many who were not so injured that they could not take care of themselves left the train which brought them to this village without giving their names.


The dead:


William Meagher, Sodus Point

Howard Tubbs, Elmira

Mrs. J. W. Ford

Mrs. A. Parke Burgess, Syracuse

Mrs. E. A Bradley, Seneca Falls.



The injured:


Rev. A. Parke Burgess, Syracuse, badly scalded and leg broken.

Chester Flagler, back sprained

Libbie White, Newark, Scalded

E. A. Bradley, Seneca Falls, badly scalded.

Oscar Hassan, Baltimore, right hand cut

Mrs. Charles G. Edwards, St. Paul, MN, scalded about head and body.

Miss Sue M. Swietzer, Mifflinburg, PA, scalded on face and hands.

George F. Goler, Baltimore, head and arms scalded.

J. E. Steven, Newark, left leg injured.

Mrs. E. H. Hares, Springfield, Mass., seriously scalded.

Mrs. Ella J. Meagher, Sodus Point, scalded

C. L. Pearson, Newark, eye cut and arms burned.

Isaac Moore, Newark, hand burned.

Isophene Moore, Newark, face and hands burned.

Mrs. Marian Moore, Newark face and hands scalded.

Doris Moore, Newark, slightly burned.

Russell Moore, Newark, slightly burned,

Fred Everette, Palmyra, badly scalded

Mrs. Fred Everette, Palmyra, scalded

L. H. Hood, Seneca Falls, right hand and face burned

M. N. Wilson, Macedon, right hand and face scalded

Oliver Wilson, Macedon, wrist cut by glass

Miss Elizabeth Todd, Newark, scalded about body

Nina Kelter, Newark, unconscious all night, condition critical; she was badly scalded.

Mrs. H. Fox, Newark, slightly scalded.

Mrs. Anna Crane, Elmira, scalded

Two children of Mrs. Crane.

W. D. Warner, of Orleans, hands scalded.

Burt Turner, express messenger, Sodus Point, hands scalded.

Henry Cabis, of Newark, hands and head scalded.

Mrs. E. E. Burleigh, of Newark, head and arms badly scalded

Charles Pearson, it learned today, will not lose his eye and is resting easily.

Of the injured in Newark Mrs. A. D. Burnham, Mrs. William Lamunyon, of Port Gibson, Mrs. Rose Edwards, of Newark, are very low and Frances Burleigh is probably dying.


The train left Sodus Point shortly before 5 o’clock. It was composed of two coaches, smoker and baggage cars and private car No. 1037 of Spencer Meade, the superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad Relief fund having on board Mr. Meade and family.  The train was in charge of Conductor H. S. Merrian, of Sodus Point.  The crew were Brakeman Charles Messner and Baggageman James Welcher, both of Sodus Point, neither of whom were injured.


According to the conductor, when the train entered the travel cut referred to, the engine left the track, while the baggage car and smoker slid past the engine directly between the smoker and first coach, each of which was well filled with passengers.


Escaping steam from the engine soon tilled the cars, scalding as many as 50 people.


As soon as the conductor could get to a telephone, both Sodus Point and Newark stations were notified and two wrecking trains with all the available doctors were soon on the scene, bringing many people to help rescue the injured.

Those who were slightly injured were made comfortable at nearby farm houses. As soon as possible the badly injured were removed to this place, where they were transferred to a West Shore special train and taken to the hospitals at Rochester.


The cars were all more or less smashed. The baggage car lies on its side. The engine, No. 3,073, and tender lay coupled together at right angles to the train, bottom side up. Engineer Meagher’s body was found 40 feet from the engine, and the fireman was lying nearby. As near as can be learned the cause of the wreck was the spreading of the rails.


Thousands of people lined the track at the station in this village waiting for friends and relatives who were expected to return from an outing at Sodus Bay and who, they feared, were among the injured.


Spencer Meade, superintendent of the road, together with his family and Dr. Flood. Mayor of Kim Ira, were in the private car attached to the rear of the train, and received no injuries.  The car did not leave the track. The passengers in the car just ahead of it were badly shaken up.  Tubbs died at 10:30.


Word was sent to Sodus and Newark for physicians, and a special train containing five doctors left Newark at 6:45 o’clock.  Upon its arrival the Newark passengers were placed aboard and hastened to Newark. Five were sent to Rochester hospitals, Miss Elizabeth White, Newark; George f. Guyer, Baltimore; Miss S. M. Stizer, Mifflinburg; Isaac Moore, Newark, and Josephine Moore, Newark.

Rev. Dr. Burgess, one of the injured, may not recover.  His right leg is broken and he is badly scalded.

Coroner E. P. Thatcher took charge of Mosher’s body and will hold an inquest.


The news of the disaster spread with remarkable rapidity and upon the arrival of the special at Newark with the injured aboard a most pathetic scene was enacted. Friends and relatives were anxiously awaiting and it was pitiful to see the maimed and dying dear ones carried from the train amid the tears and wailings of the bereaved ones. When interviewed by an Associated Press correspondent the officials of the road had nothing to say. In spite of close questioning they would give out absolutely nothing.


The country near the scene of the wreck is thickly populated and it was not long before the farmers were driving from all directions. All the roads leading to the place where the cars were piled up in such confusion were soon black with carriages and wagons and an immense crowd gathered.


The injured and dying were quickly pulled from the debris by willing hands and improvised couches were made on the green grass. Medical help was summoned and within a short hour several physicians were on the scene. The moans and shrieks of the injured rose on the evening air and until the doctors arrived the scene was an inferno.

The scalds by the passengers were caused by the bursting steam pipes and bad it not been for the prompt assistance rendered by the neighbors many would probably have been killed. Pinned down by the wreckage, the women and children screamed aloud as they lay there writhing in agony. Death would have been a welcome messenger to many.


–Mr. Hood Will Recover–

Seneca Falls Man injured in the Fairville Wreck Much Improved Today.


ROCHESTER, Aug. 30.—Among those injured in the wreck at Fairville yesterday the following named will undoubtedly die: Mrs. C G. Edwards of Dayton Avenue, St. Paul, Minn., who was badly scalded about the face and is very low and is expected to die; Mrs. E.B. Hare, of Greenfield. Mass., badly scalded about face and hands, cannot recover; Elizabeth White, of Newark, condition today extremely critical, death is expected hourly.

L. H. Hood, of Seneca Falls, previously reported seriously wounded, will recover.

Of the others now in hospitals here, it is said all will recover.


Two More Are Dead–

Rev. A. Parke Burgess and Miss Todd Succumbed to Injuries Late Today.


Rochester, N.Y.–August 30–Two additional deaths are reported from Newark this afternoon.  They are:

Rev. A. P. Burgess, of Syracuse, died in Newark at 1:45 this afternoon.

Miss Eliza Todd of New York, died in Elmira hospital this noon.


–Gloom in Seneca Falls–

Mrs. Bradley and Mrs. Hood Dead and Mr. Bradley Badly Hurt


Seneca Falls, N. Y., August 30–As a result of the accident near Newark last evening on the Northern Central railroad, Mrs. E. A Bradley and Mrs. Louise H. Hood, of this place, died this morning at the Homeopathic hospital in Rochester


Mr. and Mrs. Hood and Mr. and Mrs. Bradley had gone to Sodus to spend the day and were on their way home when the accident happened.  Mr. Hood is said to be only slightly injured.  Mr. Bradley is hurt very badly but reports at 1 PM today say that he may recover.  Mr. Bradley is superintendent of the Seneca Edison Company and Seneca Falls Water company.  Mr. Hood is one junior member of the coal firm of C. B. Hood and Son.