Wednesday, October 9, 2013

An Abandoned Train Near Lawrenceburg, Indiana



- Photograph by Cameron Knight
After quiet a drive with bikes rattling on the rack on the trunk of my car, we finally pulled off near some railroad tracks. My friend Tom and I switched from seat to saddle and started following the line. We were out for a bit of exercise on the back country roads surrounding Lawrenceburg, IN, but Tom, being a naturalist and adventurer, said he knew of a little something I might want to shoot. Under my breath, I sang, "have gun will travel is the card of a man, a knight without armor in a savage land."

We were going to see dead body after all.

After pedaling over dirt roads, stoney paths and a rather dry creek bed, we finally reached it. Three train cars embedded into the creek embankment.

- Photograph by Cameron Knight
There's nothing to be found on the internet about this train. The creek, I believe, is some portion of Tanner's Creek near the Guilford Covered Bridge, possibly the east fork of it. Trying to determine where we were from Google Maps is not an easy task.

What we can guess is that the train cars were made before the 1950s. They have wooden floors and a different design from the standardized train cars you've seen on the rails for the last thirty or forty years.

- Photograph by Cameron Knight
The romantic version of the possible story is that there was a train wreck. There are train tracks running through this area back and forth over this creek. If a train did end up in this unfortunate position, it would be next to impossible to get it out. There aren't any paved roads out there.

- Photograph by Cameron Knight
The less romantic version of the story is that these rail cars were placed here on purpose for erosion control, or just dumped. Regardless, they've been there a very long time. There also appears to be some sort of crane towards the rear of the action. Obviously, this could be something that was on the train to begin with.

- Photograph by Cameron Knight
The light was just perfect for cool photos, but unfortunately, we had to leave. The mystery remains. If you have any information about this train or what may have happened to it, please leave a comment below.

- Photograph by Cameron Knight
As we pedaled away, I turned to Tom and demanded he "suck my fat one, you cheap dime store hood." He ended up being able to get into college and went on to become a lawyer.

32 comments:

  1. Excellent! I grew up just minutes from Happy Hollow, took my bike and car down there frequently. I know a few older guys who were in the Bonnell area when it derailed back in the 1990s. There's some knowledge buried in this link, check pages 10 and 11 in particular: http://indianarailroads.org/board/index.php?topic=1222.200

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  2. haha loved the Stand By Me ref

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  3. I would love to find out where this is at. Also try to figure out where some of the old railroad tunnels are buried in Cincinnati!!

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  4. This derailment happened earlier than the 90's, more like the '70's. My dad and I drove back to see it when it happened. I believed it happened under Penn Central railroad. I have pictures of it

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  5. I found the newspaper article: "30 Cars, Engine Leave Tracks....Indiana Derailment---
    Thirty cars and an engine of a 110-car New York Central freight train were derailed yesterday near Yorkville, Ind., about 10 miles northwest of Lawrenceburg. About 15,000 gallons of a denatured alcohol chemical were spilled over an embankment from one of the derailed tank cars. Other spilled items included soybean mix, grain and sand. A 500-foot length of rail on two tracks were torn up, but no one was hurt. Crews from Cincinnati and Indianapolis are working to clear up the wreckage. Cause of the nishap has not been determined."
    Haven't located my pictures of it. With it being a New York Central train that would date it before the Penn Central merger in 1968.

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  6. There was a later derailment but it wasn't in the '90's, that would put it under Conrail and I worked for Conrail and they never used the line but to deliver a flatcar load of lumber once in a bluemoon.

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  7. I found the photos and put them in an album "NYC 1960's derailment" in the Cincy Rails website.

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  8. rrbob - pics posted on the cincyrails.com, the Cincy Rails yahoo group, or the CincyRails facebook grroup?

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  9. Sorry, it's the Cincy Rails yahoo group.
    Bob D.

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  10. Interesting find. I am researching the Penn Central in this area in the mid-seventies and would love to talk to Bob D., and anyone else that might be familiar with railroad operations in and around Lawrenceburg, Thatcher, Valley, and into Storrs and Riverside yards. RSeiler308 @ A O L

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  11. rrbob, well that makes a lot more sense than the mid-90's story--I always suspected it was older, just because of how large the trees growing out of the wreckage are--but couldn't find any other info.

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  14. I have pictures of this site too. About Mar 2012. I have an account of another accident where there was ice on the tracks and one train slid into another.

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  15. Does anyone know how to find this?

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    2. I do! State Road 48 to Wiesburg Rd. Wiesburg to Ester Ridge Rd. At the bottom of the hill turn onto what is now Shale Rd. A short distance down this road is a place to pull over on the left. Get out of your car and look across the creek. It works better after the leaves fall. No bicycle needed. If anyone finds it I hope they post a comment to let me know. Bob near Manchester.

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    3. 22774 ester ridge is the closest address. It gets you to a railroad tunnel bridge about 100 yds from the crash site

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  16. I found information about a lawsuit against Conrail based on a train derailment and chemical spill west of Guilford February 22 1977. Could that be it?

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  17. I bet that was it. My neighbor was an attorney in Lawrenceburg and this sounds like the wreck he represented

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  18. The wreckage is on Shale Rd Sunman IN. Shale Rd is off of Ester Ridge Rd Sunman IN. I live about 3.5 miles from there. This wreckage is from sometime in the 60's before I was born.

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    1. It happened in 1967. The cars were left, minus their wheels, to secure the embankment which was slipping and caused the wreak. I remember that no one was hurt.

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  19. how do i fiund this EXACTLY??????? i like this blog document cincys history. last week i was at americana (leSordsville lake) adn USS Sachum

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    1. It happened near Bonnell. Bonnell is located 39 degrees 10'06' N 84 degrees 57'27' W. That's the best I can do since I don't have GPS. Bob S.

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  20. It was a circus train and people died, the wreck was due to a washout and the cars were left to hold the grade for the new rails when repaired. This was sometime in the 1930s or 40s. The other train wreck happened in the late 70s or early 80s and did spill chemicals where all but one man from the cleanup crew died. I was told it wasTrichloroethane, supposedly it mixed with carboard and created a mustard gas or somesort of toxin in the lungs. If you talk to a man that goes by the name of KT, he is a driver for Klump trucking and he told the story. He said the wreck spilled thousands of new car bumper jacks and they were just teenagers and collected many of them thinking they were going to sell the shit out of them. It was a waste of time he said! Lol. A ways the second wreck with the spill was right in front of my house on the first bridge when you turn onto bonnell. Kt and another neighbor said there was arial photos of the massive pools ofTrichloroethane pooled up in the neighbors field. This is why me and my neighbor have city water because the wells are contaminated. Also to note the bridges were rebuilt i. 1929-1931 so my guess is the old mystery wreck probably happened when the old structure was failing. It was told that massive rains caused this and let me tell you the water can roar down here in the spring. Nick Roberts, Roberts performance machine and tool.

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  21. Sorry I remembered wrong! By the time you get to the place to pull off to the left, you have passed the wreck. There is no place to pull off the road at the site. I went there Oct. 9, 2015 and saw it again.

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