Horses killed by freight train

Published: 3/19/2017 10:00 AM
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John R. Lindermuth

A Shenandoah teamster had a narrow escape on March 21, 1896, when his frightened team bolted into the path of an oncoming freight train at Krebs’ crossing in the Catawissa Valley.

William Neiswender, an employee of the Shenandoah Powder Company, had hired a sleigh and four horses from liveryman John Roberts and set out for the company’s mill in the valley. The Evening Herald said the mill was located about a half mile from the scene of the accident.

“There are two road branches at Kreb’s,” the Herald reported. “One turns to the right, leading to Brandonville and the other in the opposite direction and passes the power mill. The road leading down the hill to the fork in the roads is very steep and there is a sharp curve near Kreb’s station that shuts the Philadelphia & Reading railroad from view.”

Neiswender said as he came down the hill he didn’t hear a train whistle or bell but as he drew near the track he saw a westbound freight approaching.

The two horses were struck and drawn in under the wheels of the engine while the sleigh and the other horses were dragged along the gutter at the side of the track by the harness of the first pair. The driver hung on until he was struck on the face and right shoulder by some part of a car, which threw him off the wagon and away from the wheels of the train. The harness also broke and some point, freeing the two rear horses. Miraculously, one of those horses suffered no injury and the other had only minor cuts and bruises.

“The train had been running at such a speed that it went some distance past the crossing before the engineer stopped it. The train returned to the crossing, but there was nothing the crew could so and after seeing that the track was clear they proceeded on their trip.”

Neiswender walked to the nearby Kreb’s store where he had temporary medical treatment. A local farmer then took him to Shenandoah where he was seen to by a doctor. His cheek and arm were cut and bruised, but he suffered no serious injuries.

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