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The Ashtabula Bridge Disaster, of 1876, was at that time one of the worst train disasters of that era. Do to slow media of that day and other contributing factors, nobody seems sure of the number of people on board the fated train that day. There also seems to be some question as to the number of people killed, missing and buried due to this tragic event. But, we do know these facts:
11 years earlier, Amasa Stone submitted a bridge design to Charles Collins, both men worked in the L.S. & M.S. Railroad Engineer Department, after much hesitation and discussion, Collins (against his better judgement and pressure from Stone) allowed the Howe Truss Bridge to be built even though he felt it to be an experimental design.
On the night of Dec 29, 1876 the Lake Shore Pacific Express, No 5, rolled into Ashtabula (in a blinding snow storm, blizzard conditions). The train, composed of 11 cars and 2 engines started across the fated bridge. As the lead engine crossed the Ashtabula Gulf, the engineer felt the bridge give way and throttled his engine to full. As he gained the west abutment of the bridge, his engine broke lose from the rest of the train. He turned and watched in horror as the bridge and the rest of the train plunged more that 70 feet to the river below.
And what made matters worse, was the fact that it was a bitter cold winter night and the coal stoves were burning for heat and the oil candles were burning for light on the train. And with the cars being built of wood, the stoves and candles ignited the cars into a colossal inferno.
History deals with facts and the grim facts were: 125-250 passengers aboard the train, 80 plus dead, 40-65 wounded, more than 29 missing and 5-12 people who died after their rescue. Note we give these numbers loosely, as no two accounts of the accident give the same figures. We have taken the 5 best accounts of this disaster to give you these averages.
A coroners jury ruled the disaster caused from improper bridge design, and many of the deaths caused by improper heating apparatus, which failed to extinguish on impact. Charles Collins, was so taken by the accident that after he testified in court, he returned to his bedroom and ended his life with a single shot from a pistol to his head.
Both Collins and the Unrecognized Dead lay high atop Chestnut Grove Cemetery, Collins in his mausoleum and the others marked in a spot by a monument, erected for them by the citizens of Ashtabula.
125 years later, a haunting continues high on Chestnut Grove. A haunting that in the early hours of the morning makes the unrecognizable dead return to search for their lives that ended so tragically.
Greg and Jim and the rest of the team are continuing their investigation on this story and will add more to this as information becomes available. Our deepest sympathies go out to all that lost their lives that tragic night.
One of the most popular topics on the Ohio Ghost Research discussion board lately is AshtabulaCounty's Tinkers Hollow. Every time Sylvester Tinker hears how he killed his wife andhid her in the corn field, I'm sure he wishes he were a ghost. But guess what? Not true!It's all nothing but an urban legend. Although the Tinker family were ingenious inventorsin the iron field, they were by no means killers!
Silas Tinker came to Conneaut, Ohio in 1806 along with his sons, William, Julias, andSylvester. They invented a process for making some of the strongest iron in Ohio history.They also manufactured tools, saws, stoves, and the first horse drawn mowing machine.Sylvester built the first foundry in Conneaut in 1833, then updated it in 1835 to work withcast iron. It is years after the brothers left town that the true haunting begins.
It seems that an old hermit took to living in the old ruins of the abandoned foundry. Asthe story goes, he was struck by lightning and lived through the experience, although oneof his legs was badly injured. This forced him to drag his one leg behind him as hewalked about. After many year the old hermit just seemed to have vanished and was seenno more, but people all claimed that if you sat U1lder the Tinker Hollow Bridge longenough you would hear him returning home, with his donkey dragging his leg behindhim. At one point the legend became so popular that Conneaut News Herald reporter PatWilliams camped under the bridge. For two nights he and the two other men he hadbrought along as witnesses saw nothing. The following weekend Pat and his companionsreturned to the bridge on a foggy, rainy night. Shortly after midnight the men heard thesound of someone making their way across the bridge. It sounded like the steps of manleading a horse with the man dragging his leg as he walked. The three men rushed to thetop of the bridge with their cameras in hand to record the event, but all they saw was therain soaked delapadated old bridge. What ever had made the sounds had vanished intothin air.
We would like to add that we have made several trips to Tinkers Hollow with the latest outting being 8-27-2001 and have found absolutley nothing at the hollow. We have literally taken 1000's of photographs, shot video, ran EVP and have turned up nothing, not even a real Orb....just alot of dust, and fought alot of misquito's. Our team felt it would be good to research this because of the interest in the community about Tinkers Hollow. We would have welcomed finding anything there but we did not.
The search for the truth continues for us but not at Tinkers Hollow....Thanks and enjoy the site.
The OGR TEAM