Growing up in the 1960's, none come to mind, but that's not saying any didn't occur either!
David Sechrest Historic Columbus Indiana Progress should not ignore its roots and pillage our heritage in the process. Cultural, social, and historical should be part of the process, for it is the path and not the destination that is important - S. Givens
I do recall seeing the interurban accident south of town. the year was 1941 and we were living at 619 Indiana Ave at the time. I was a young boy at the time but I remember dad and I riding our bikes down to the location of the wreck. Two interurbans had hit head on, one car was a passenger car and the other one was a work car, there was wreckage every where and there were people injured. I heard that there had been a mistake in routing the two cars, but anyway that was the end of the interurbans and at a time when they would have really have had their best time , with the war a short time away and Camp Atterbury on their line they would have been very busy.
On Friday, September 1, 2006 David started a thread under the Columbus Disasters: Floods, Blizzards, Storms & Tornadoes Thread.
When I saw the new thread, it caused me to start thinking of all I’ve read in the paper’s and magazines about Homeland Security and the disaster on the Gulf Coast and in New Orleans. I was a volunteer fire fighter for thirteen years, so I suppose that’s given me a different outlook than most.
Several volunteer on more than one organization and may also work for a government public support group/department. The question that I always ask myself, is which organization will those people support if Columbus or Bartholomew has a large disaster. If you were a volunteer and worked on a city or county road crew, electric or telephone crew or worked at the hospital or in a drug store, grocery story or the city or county water department. OK, I think you see where I’m going! At which organization would you work at during a disaster?
Below you’ll read about the organized response to a small disaster and what it takes to get a rail line opened after a relative small incident!
Years ago while serving on a volunteer fire department, I was on the crew that responded to a train wreck. The call came a little before midnight and the request was for a tanker truck. The caller said that a wreck had occurred and a steam crane the railroad operated was en route and would need water for its boiler at some point. I believe that the rail line was operated by The Pennsylvania Railroad.
As I recall, both engineers thought the other was to be on the siding near the 4-H fairgrounds south of Columbus. Both in fact were on the main line and crashed at that point.
That night/morning, I saw a lot of amazing things. Have you ever looked closely at the steel tube that a railcar coupling is attached to? I hadn’t either until early that morning. I’m going to guess and say that the tube that the coupling is attached to is about six inches by eight inches and one half to five eight’s inches thick. That morning I saw several of those snapped off. Not torn or ripped apart, but snapped cleanly in two!
Shortly after we arrived on the scene a convoy of trucks began arriving that would continue for a few hours. We later learned that they were staged in northern Indiana and responded over several hundred Miles radius!
The first truck that arrived was the kitchen/cooks. It didn’t take long to see we were in the staging area! In a short time we could tell that this convoy had unloaded before. As soon as each truck stopped, someone was starting the unloading process.
A lot of the equipment was the crawler type tractor. The first few were small and some had blades on the front. Others were what they called ‘side winder’ type. The ‘side winder’ type had a heavy beam that could be raised and lowered as well as a cable that was used to raise and lower loads. Mounted on the opposite side of the crawler was a counter weight. As the load increased, the counter weight was lowered, which extended it and produced more lifting power. If you’ve ever seen a film or picture of a pipeline being installed, you most likely saw a ‘crawler side winder’ type being used.
At least one rubber tired ‘back hoe’ type tractor was one of the first to arrive. It was used to assemble the beam and counter weight on the first ‘side winder’ type crawler.
The first trailer was a low boy of the type you see around town and was loaded with a crawler tractor and beams and counter weights. That was the process and the crawler tractors and counter weights kept getting bigger and bigger. As the beams and counterweights became larger, the next smallest crawler was used to install the bean and counter weight.
I think as each truck was unloaded and parked, the driver became a helper for the cook, operated a piece of equipment being unloaded or perhaps he was one of the people that handled the chains and cables when they started moving the cars that had jumped the tracks. As I said things started happening so fast that neither I nor the other crew member got sleepy!
As the crawlers got bigger, so did the counter weights to the point that the counter weights had to be hauled on a trailer by themselves! When the last crawler, which was the largest, was unloaded the operator backed the crawler off the back of the trailer without blocks. I suppose it would have taken another tractor trailer to haul enough blocks to do any good! When that crawler was backed off the back of the trailer, the trailer starting tipping up and raised the truck tractor off the ground about four feet. Yes, this last truck had a lot of axles!
Next came the welding trucks, Dump trucks loaded with stone and trucks with new rails, spikes and other needed hardware.
Two of the largest ‘side winders’ moved to each end of a car and picked it up, even when loaded, and moved each car out of the area where the track was damaged. At some point the cars that stayed on the track were pushed away from the work area. Wheels and axles that were torn off during the wreck were placed onto an area of undamaged track. At this time a damaged car was then raised, moved and alined with the wheels and axle and the welders began their work.
It was amazing to see a full coal car being moved by two dozer type crawlers! The operators could move the car along by both moving in the same direction at the same time. They could move the car in and out or sideways if you will, by adjusting the angle of the beam and the cable hanging from the side of the crawler.
I ran an overhead crane at Cummins in 1962, and can appreciate the hand eye coordination required to move heavy loads. Those operators were very good at the job they were doing.
While this was being done, the smaller dozers were grading the track bed and if needed, new stone was dumped and spread. After the rail bed was at the correct grade, new rail was laid.
Several hours after being called, the railroad’s steam operated crane arrived. It was nearing daylight and someone decided that the convoy crew was close to being finished and the crane wouldn’t be needed. The tanker crew was then released and returned to the station and back into service.
I’m not sure how long that line was shut down as we both went to work that day. If the work progressed as it did during the night, and I’m sure it did, the line would have been reopened in a few hours.
Now let’s go back to the Gulf Coast. Think about miles and miles of track that was washed out and very well could have been bridges washed out also!
If all of the newspapers, radio and TV stations are shut down, how do you get critical information to the general public or the employee that is needed to operate the public owned equipment!