Thursday, August 6, 2009

Circus Train Wreck, May 1893, Altoona, Pa.

The wreck of the train carrying W. L. MAIN'S circus was in many of its features one of the most sensational disasters that ever occurred on the rail. There is in the first place a total of six killed to make the accident a tragic one and several others seriously wounded.
The killed are:
FRANK CRANE, circus employe, Indianapolis.
WILLIAM LOCK, Newport, Ky.
J. STRAYER, Hontzdale, Pa.
WILLIAM HEVERLY, brakeman, Tyrone, Pa.
an Unknown Man.
Those seriously hurt are:
All are residents of this state and New York. Many others were slightly hurt.

A Terrible Time With The Animals.
But the novel features of the wreck were those supplied by the animals, of which there were a large number. They all got out of their cages and many were wounded. Two sacred oxen were killed to put them out of their misery. A tiger killed a cow of ALFRED THOMAS, a farmer. THOMAS killed the tiger with a rifle. Three lions escaped, but one was captured immediately. Another was lassoed and tied to a tree, biting the lassoer, JAMES CHAMBERS, severely on the hand. The other lion is at large, but is the quietest of the three.

A Tiger Somewhere In The Woods.
A tiger, water buffalo, hyena, bear, alligators, and a large collection of snakes got away, but were captured. The elephants and camels were uninjured. A black panther, silver tiger, a lot of monkeys and valuable birds are at large. Almost every ring horse was killed. The total number of horses killed is forty-nine, with all the others cut and bruised. MR. MAIN estimates the loss at $100,000. The cars were sixty-five feet long, and built last year. The show was said to be the third best 3-ring circus on the road.

Caught A Big Anaconda.
All the killed and injured except CRANE and HEVERLY were helpers around the circus and cook tents. The snake charmer caught one of his big anacondas in the bushes. The scene at the wreck is a doleful one. Cars, wagons and chariots are smashed into firewood. The circus people are now encamped at the scene of the wreck. The neighborhood is greatly alarmed about the wild animals at large but the show people say there is no need for fear. It took two hours hard work to reach CRANE, who was buried in the ruins of the ticket wagons. He was conscious to the end, but died as soon as released.

Davenport Daily Leader Iowa 1893-05-31

"Note the above article list's a "silver tiger." Do you suppose it was a Snow Leopard instead?"


dpowhitetiger said...

Blog Test!

dpowhitetiger said...

"Unscheduled Stop" book about the Walter L. Main Train Wreck and the city of Tyrone, PA. Written by archeologist Paule Zitzler, with help of Susie O'Obrien, President Forepaugh-Lubin Tent, Train Historian and Story Teller. "Unscheduled Stop" relates the tale of a small PA town on Memorial Day - May 30, 1893 and the wreck of the seventeen car circus train that brought the community of Tyrone together to aid the wonderfully exotic people of the circus and animals. And in just nine days after the devastating accident, the Walter L. Main Circus opened in Tyrone with two special performances under the Big Top. No doubt "Unscheduled Stop" records and preserves a significant event from that history.

Info to Purchase: Tyrone Historical Society, PO Box 1850, Tyrone, PA. 16686-0102, - 814-684-5141 $15.00 + $5.00 handling.

dpowhitetiger said...

May 30, 1893
Directions to Monument & Wreck Site: Traveling north from Altoona, PA on I-99. You will travel past the main Tyrone exit and proceed 4.5 miles to Rt. 350 & I-99 you will be in the village of Bald Eagle. At this traffic light you will be turning left on Old Road 220 going south. Travel south 1 MILE and make a right on Vanscoyoc Rd. ( at Tyrone Sportmen sign). The monument is on the left side next to the railroad bed just 0.3. The Friday Farm mentioned on the plaque is another 0.3 mile on the right.

dpowhitetiger said...

CFA Forepaugh-Lubin Tent No.2
St. College / Altoona, PA
Keeping with tradition honoring a spectacular Walter L. Main 1893 Train Wreck, the Adam Forepaugh-Barry Lubin Circus Fans Tent of America and the Tyrone Historical Society jointly hold a memorial service honoring the victims of the Walter L. Main Circus train disaster. This year two services were held. The first was April 8th prior to the Jaffa Shrine Circus Opening. LULU and CHANG, Carson & Barnes elephants visited the site and placed a wreath at the monument following and Elephant Luncheon held on the exact site of the train wreck.

The service includes representatives of CFA, Tyrone Historical Society, Masonic,Elks,Sportsman Club,Township Officers and local dignitaries. The Reverend Norman Huff, Lubin Tent Chaplain performs the service and a memorial wreath is layed each May around Memorial Day. If you are in the area next May 26, 2010 join us for this historical memorial service.
info: -

dpowhitetiger said...

ALTOONA MIRROR - SATURDAY, AUGUST 15, 2009- front page top fold had story on "Unstoppable," movie featuring Denzel Washington story about a runaway train thriller may be looking at the Tyrone, PA area to shoot part of the movie. tony Scott, director for a fall 2010 release by 20th Century Fox. Filmmakers are interested in tyrone because the Nittany & Bald Eagle RR line runs through the middle of town...When St. College, PA. BRYCE JORDAN venue is on the Ringling route you can get and excellent view of the train and now a Denzel movie...just miles from the Walter L. Main train wreck..