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Steam & Excursion > Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!


Date: 12/09/12 04:39
Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: LoggerHogger

Logging railroads in the West by all accounts had their share of wrecks during the days of steam. Many were simple derailments due to the worn and temporary track placement used by these "Railroads In The Woods". However, some were far more spectacular. This is the story of one of those wrecks.

Of all the known log train wrecks that occurred back in the day, none was as unusual as the famous "trapped-in-the-middle" wreck that occurred on the Pickering Lumber Co. in 1925.

It was September and the steel gang was working on the Standard Lumber Company's Punch Bowl area above Pickering's #2 Camp. Frank Joy was the engineer on the work train headed by Pickering Heisler #8. Joy was normally the Brown Hoist operator for the lumber company. Joy and his crew spotted a car load of ties and one car of rail on the 7% grade for the steel gang to resume their work. The cars were tied down with their hand brakes and Joy departed with #8 light down the hill to do some switching at Camp #2.

While Joy and his crew were doing their switching, the steel gang went about their business. However, at one point the steel gang decided they needed to move the 2 parked cars and they released the handbrakes in order to move them by hand. You know what happened next. On the steep 7% grade the cars quickly got away from the steel gang and hurled down grade.

By this time Joy and his crew on Heisler #8 had finished their switching and they were back out on the mainline below camp. They proceeded back up to where the area of the steel gang when suddenly they saw the 2 loaded cars speeding down grade in their direction.

Joy immediately threw the Johnson bar of #8 into reverse and opened the throttle wide to try and out-run the 2 speeding cars. Joy and his crew quickly saw that this would not work and they both jumped out of the Heisler as she ran down the grade.

Just as Joy's crew-less engine rounded a curve below camp it was met by Shay #3 pulling her loaded log train upgrade out of a loading siding onto the mainline. Hoggy Seymour was in charge of Shay #3 and her train and saw the impending wreck. Hoggy immediately jump out of his window and to safety. His fireman tried to jump out of the gangway between the wooden cab and the water cistern just as the impact with #3 from the rear and the run-away cars from the front occurred. The collisions forced the water cistern into the cab thus crushing the hips of the hapless fireman. Fortunately he did survive the wreck.

We see in these photos the aftermath of this incredible wreck. The water cistern on Heisler #8 was hit so hard by the front pilot and smokebox of Shay #3 that it was spun sideways and nearly off her frame. The oil tank that was mounted on the top of the water cistern on Heisler #8 was thrown off and to the ground as seen in the 3rd view.

The steel on the one flat car hit the front of Heisler #8 and some of the rails punctured the front somkebox, while not also puncturing her flue sheet. Shay #3 received extensive damage to both her front from the impact with the rear of Heisler #8 and the rear from the impact with her own log loads.



Martin



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/12 12:20 by LoggerHogger.








Date: 12/09/12 04:39
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: LoggerHogger

After the smoke and steam cleared from this terrific wreck Shay#3 and Heisler #8 were towed to a near-by siding to await a trip to the company shops in Standard, CA for a complete repair and rebuilding.

Both engines were in fact repaired and returned to service on the Pickering logging line. They both showed the scars of this wreck as seen in these last 2 photos taken by Bert Ward in May 1937.

Heisler #8 had the clear signs of the straightened out dents in her water tank and a new front and rear pilot to replace those destroyed in the wreck.

Shay #3 received a new steel cab to replace the wooden cab shattered by the wreck. Her front spot plate was curved in from the impact into the water tank of Heisler #8.

Heisler #8 had originally been built for the Sierra Ry for use on the Angel Camp Branch of that railroad. She was later sold to Pickering Lumber and served them until the late 1930's when she was sold to the West Side Lumber Co. for use as their standard gauge mill switcher in near-by Tuolumne, CA. She later became #1 on the West Side. She was finally worn out in 1947 and she was used to donate parts to convert West Sides narrow gauge Heisler #3 to standard gauge so she could take over #1's duties. Heisler #1 was scrapped in 1947.

Shay #3 had been built in 1910 for Pickering's predecessor the Standard Lumber Company. She continued to work for Pickering after until 1957 when she was retired and put on display at Standard, CA near the Pickering mill. Later she was moved to Sonora, CA and put on display at the entrance to the fairgrounds where she still is today.

Now you know the story of one of the most interesting logging railroad wrecks of all time.



Martin



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/12 05:20 by LoggerHogger.








Date: 12/09/12 05:15
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: LoggerHogger

Hee is a present day view of Pickering Lumber Shay #3 on display in Sonora, CA. She is lettered for the name of the Standard Lumber Copany's rail line, The Sugar Pine Ry.


Martin



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/12 06:36 by LoggerHogger.




Date: 12/09/12 07:53
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: MarkMeoff

Didn't the city of Sonora want to roll the 3 over on it's side a couple years ago? Something about the river next to it and using it as rip rap.



Date: 12/09/12 09:12
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: YG

Amazing story and photos!

Steve Mitchell
http://www.yardgoatimages.com



Date: 12/09/12 13:16
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: SierraRail

MarkMeoff Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Didn't the city of Sonora want to roll the 3 over
> on it's side a couple years ago? Something about
> the river next to it and using it as rip rap.


You've got to be kidding? This is California. You'll be jailed for even dipping your smelly feet into a public water-way, and endanger fish & wildlife! If you dumped that pile-of-junk locomotive into the water-way, you'd probably be executed!



Date: 12/09/12 13:19
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: TCnR

It's a public entity in California, they're allowed to do really stupid things.



Date: 12/09/12 14:13
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: nycman

What a nightmare that had to be for the crews. Amazing neither boiler exploded. I can't even imagine being in the cab of either engine seeing what was about to transpire on that day. Thanks for posting these, Martin.



Date: 12/09/12 14:23
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: LoggerHogger

Jim,

As you could see from the story, the crews did NOT stay in the cabs long!!

Martin



Date: 12/09/12 14:36
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: lynnpowell

Several years ago, Sonora was hit with severe rainfall and resulting flooding. The creek beside #3 became a raging torrent and washed away several feet of soil next to the locomotive, right up to the end of the ties. #3 was in very big danger of tipping over into the raging creek. Crews (from where I don't know) arrived with heavy equipment. They chained up to the track underneath #3, and slid the whole works sideways for several feet, thus saving #3 from a watery demise.



Date: 12/09/12 14:45
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: SierraRail

lynnpowell Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Several years ago, Sonora was hit with severe
> rainfall and resulting flooding. The creek beside
> #3 became a raging torrent and washed away several
> feet of soil next to the locomotive, right up to
> the end of the ties. #3 was in very big danger of
> tipping over into the raging creek. Crews (from
> where I don't know) arrived with heavy equipment.
> They chained up to the track underneath #3, and
> slid the whole works sideways for several feet,
> thus saving #3 from a watery demise.

The flooding you described occurred May 16, 1996. Quite a long while ago.



Date: 12/10/12 05:46
Re: Wrecked From Both Ends! Pickering's Famous Crash!
Author: MarkMeoff

lynnpowell Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Several years ago, Sonora was hit with severe
> rainfall and resulting flooding. The creek beside
> #3 became a raging torrent and washed away several
> feet of soil next to the locomotive, right up to
> the end of the ties. #3 was in very big danger of
> tipping over into the raging creek. Crews (from
> where I don't know) arrived with heavy equipment.
> They chained up to the track underneath #3, and
> slid the whole works sideways for several feet,
> thus saving #3 from a watery demise.


Yup, that's the incident I was thinking of. At one point the city's idea was just roll it over. Glad the engine got saved instead.



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