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Shawmut saw its fair share of wrecks over the years

July 31, 2012

Photo from the St. Marys Historical Society collection Engine 23 caused the death of L.J. Mullaney on June 23, 1908 at Stave Mill. The wreck occurred at 8:35 p.m. on June 22, 1908 and Mullaney was taken out from the engine at 1:05 a.m. and died at 6 a.m.

Because the route of the Pittsburg, Shawmut, and Northern Railroad was "hilly and curvy," it saw its fair share of wrecks, according to local historian Ray Beimel.
While there were not a lot of "really big train wrecks in this area," there were a number of minor incidents and a wrecker known as 'the big hook' was kept in St. Marys and saw occasional use.
"A lot of times a hopper car full of coal would go down over the hill. There's a story that the Bauers tell me about how a boxcar jumped out of the train but the train didn't stop for some reason and they didn't know," Beimel said.
When they got to the yard, no one could figure out what had happened to that particular car of coal.
"It ended up they went up the tracks and found it down over the hill," Beimel said. "It's hard to figure because the way the air brakes work on a train, as soon as anything disconnects, the air is dumped and the brakes are applied and the whole train comes to a screeching halt."
Aside from an occasional missing car of coal, Beimel noted that "the Shawmut was not without its share of small wrecks."
He showed attendees a photograph from a wreck that occurred right near Brusselles Street when Engine no. 23 rolled over due to an apparent bad track and killed Lawrence J. Mullaney.
"They wrecked at 8:35 p.m. in the evening and he was taken out of the engine in the morning and died later that day. The curious thing, you know, is how the Shawmut is connected with everybody. L. J. Mullaney's wife was Bertha Beimel. Of course, she's widowed at a young age. I often wonder how our great-great-grandfather felt about her marrying an Irishman, but two years later she married his brother and moved to California," Beimel said.
He also remarked that the Historical Society has an unusually high number of photos of the crash.

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