Author Topic: 1961 train crossing accident remembered  (Read 2008 times)

indrr

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1961 train crossing accident remembered
« on: October 02, 2010, 09:33:15 AM »
Article remembering five students who were killed in 1961 crossing the NYC at Edgewood Ave southeast of Indy. Interesting that the train was estimated to have been going 80mph.

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http://www.indystar.com/article/20101002/LOCAL/10020362/Crosses-show-where-train-killed-5-in-1961?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|IndyStar.com

Crosses show where train killed 5 in 1961

Five gleaming white crosses were hammered into the earth Friday just yards from where a car full of Franklin Central High School students were killed by a train nearly 50 years ago.

The railroad crossing on Edgewood Avenue about a half-mile east of Franklin Road was the scene of the 1961 crash that killed five students on their way home from school.

Classmate Larry Walker helped organize the memorial and said he hopes it reminds people how precious life is.

Robert Altmeyer was using caution when he pulled up to the stop sign at the crossing Oct. 2, 1961, but he just didn't notice the train barreling down the track, Walker said.

The impact of the train, estimated to be traveling at 80 mph, killed Altmeyer, 17; his sister Laural, 15; siblings Stephen Pratt, 16, and Nadine Pratt, 14; and friend Linnie Taylor, 15.

Walker said the wreck devastated classmates and the Franklin Township community. It is his hope that the five crosses remind people of those who didn't make it home in 1961.


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rrnut282

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Re: 1961 train crossing accident remembered
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2010, 10:14:03 AM »
Sad.  But I have to ask, was the NYC track capable of 80mph in that time frame, or was deferred maintainence still in the future?
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storrs19

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Re: 1961 train crossing accident remembered
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2010, 10:17:11 AM »
My NYC Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio divisions ETT from April 1960 still shows many main lines with speeds of 70, 80 and even 85mph as top speed.  Now this doesn't take slow orders in account of course.  The line from AN (Big Four Yard) to Lenox (East Saint Louis) has a top speed of 85mph in many sections.  The line from Templeton to Kankakee shows a top speed of 80mph which is really booking it considering this was dark territory run under MBS rules.
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IndyHog

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Re: 1961 train crossing accident remembered
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2010, 11:02:55 AM »
Sad, those kids would be in their mid to late sixtys with grandchildren in their teens and driving. Train safety still needs to be emphasized in schools and in driver's ed classes. I imagine the crew was haunted by the aftermath the rest of their lives.
    Its also hard to imagine that our rail assests have been allowed to deteriorate to such a state of affairs. I think the line where this occurred (Shelbyville Sec) is down to 10mph and 25 mph in most places and doesn't even connect to Cincinnati anymore.
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Amtk427

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Re: 1961 train crossing accident remembered
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2010, 01:23:11 PM »
This is a small world.  my mother in law was the Pratt childrens Aunt. (He brothers kids) She said the car had been broken down,  and they had just got it running again a couple of days before the accident.  The ironic thing,  her brother was a yard master for the Pennsylvania.  She has a copy of the news paper.  It said the train left Indianapolis Union station at 2:36 PM and was 11 minutes late.  Train was doing 79 MPH in an 80 zone.  Paper said it had two Diesels and 7 cars.  Doesn't say the train name...could this have been the Riley??  I'm including the picture from the paper.  What you see is whats left of a 1949 chevy.  Crossing was Crossbucks and stop signs.  Witness said the kids were'nt driving to fast, and had stopped at the crossing. He heard the horn,  and was shocked when they drove across.

indrr

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Re: 1961 train crossing accident remembered
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2010, 03:45:16 PM »
Wow, that switch was 200' from the edge of the road.
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scraphauler

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Re: 1961 train crossing accident remembered
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2010, 09:07:27 PM »
Train would have been #302, The Cincinnati Special.  Chicago to Cincinnati train, due out of Indy at 225PM, Shelbyville at 305PM, Greensburg 333PM, Bateville 355PM, and Cincinnati 500PM.  It's westbound counterpart was train #305, The Sycamore.  The Cincinnati Special and the Sycamore would meet each other on the hill between Sunman and Greendale.   The east bound Riley, Train #304 was an evening train, departing Indy at 810PM.  That train set would then be serviced overnight and turn back out of Cincinnati the next morning at 0830 AM as the westbound Riley, Train #303

    Its also hard to imagine that our rail assests have been allowed to deteriorate to such a state of affairs. I think the line where this occurred (Shelbyville Sec) is down to 10mph and 25 mph in most places and doesn't even connect to Cincinnati anymore.

Line still does connect, it just that CSXT has about 1 mile of track out of service in Shelbyville.  Someday it will be restored as a through route,  just probably not by CSX.

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Re: 1961 train crossing accident remembered
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2011, 01:30:42 AM »
A memorial service for these five students is planned for that location on the 50th anniversery, October 2nd, at 2:30 PM, nearly the moment of the accident.   All are invited.  A plaque to be displayed at the school and five permanent crosses at the site will be dedicated that day, contributed through donations from the Franklin Central classes of 1964 and 1965.   I was a Sophomore at Franklin Central on that date, remember all five of those students clearly, and will never forget that horrible day, and the sad visits to funeral homes later.   I am 65 now, and believe that the accident still ranks as the worst single-accident student loss of life in Marion County history.  

Bob Durnell

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Re: 1961 train crossing accident remembered
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2011, 07:46:15 AM »
Sad Story.  I looked at the ariel photos of the accident site and was quite surprised to see that area is still fairly rural.  I assumed that the city would have swallowed that area up by now when I read the story.  What's the story on the track switch?  I assume this was for a passing siding since there is nothing else out there, but it seems like it is seperated pretty far from the main track.  Optical delusion?

indrr

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Re: 1961 train crossing accident remembered
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2011, 09:38:45 AM »
Sad Story.  I looked at the ariel photos of the accident site and was quite surprised to see that area is still fairly rural.  I assumed that the city would have swallowed that area up by now when I read the story.  What's the story on the track switch?  I assume this was for a passing siding since there is nothing else out there, but it seems like it is seperated pretty far from the main track.  Optical delusion?
It was a short-lived siding over to the substation east of the crossing. Most likely, used to deliver some large transformers when the substation was originally built.
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Bob Durnell

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Re: 1961 train crossing accident remembered
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2011, 11:18:09 AM »
Ah, yes, I should have looked a little closer.  It is pretty obvious now that I am looking for it.