100 Years Ago This Month

This is a series of selected articles about the O&W.  Most of the articles are from Middletown newspapers, but occasionally articles from other newspapers will be included.

Because we all relate to recent events more than older ones, it is easy to focus on the most recent O&W business news, namely its shutting down on March 29, 1957.  Although that is arguably the single most important date in the O&W history, I prefer to dwell on happier times.  

100 years ago from June, 2014, as we begin this series, the O&W was booming.  They had completed major track and facility improvements all along the line, and freight and passenger revenues were at record highs.  However, World War I was just around the corner, and would bring about many changes.  

Come back in time with us and follow the ups and downs, and ins and outs of the O&W during those fascinating times. 

May 1915

MIDDLETOWN DAILY ARGUS Sat. 5/1/15 The season for pickerel and wall eyed pike opened today in New York State. A party from this city left this morning on the O&W for Fallsburgh.


MIDDLETOWN DAILY ARGUS Wed. 5/5/15 J. F. Cohalen Killed. Word was received in this city this morning of the death of John F. Cohalen, a former well known O&W engineer.

   Engineer Cohalen left this city about five years ago and took a position on a Canadian railroad where he has since been employed - - - killed at Thorold, Ontario, Canada. - - -


MIDDLETOWN DAILY ARGUS Thurs. 5/6/15 - Brakeman had a Close Call        Bert Pelton an O&W trainman had a close call in the Middletown yards last Friday night. He got his arm caught between the couplers of two cars and it was severely bruised, but fortunately there was a piece of stick wedged in the coupling in such a manner that the arm was not badly crushed. His clothing was caught and a can of tobacco which he carried in his hip pocket was crushed out of shape, thus showing the narrowness of the escape.


MIDDLETOWN DAILY ARGUS Fri. 5/7/15 Cohalen Was Killed By a Locomotive: Undertaker J. B. Carey arrived in this city on Erie train 6 at 6:30 this morning with the remains of former O&W Engineer John F. Cohalen who was killed at Thorold, Canada, on Tuesday.

   Engineer Cohalen, who for many years was employed on the O&W, residing in this city, left here about five years ago and took a position with the Quinlan-Robertson Construction Co. of Canada, acting as engineer. For the past year he has been employed by his firm on the new Welland ship canal at Thorold, Ontario. He was very highly esteemed by his fellow workmen and employers.

   On Tuesday evening as Mr. Cohalen quit work he stepped from one track to another and was run down by a locomotive, sustaining injuries from which he died in a short time at 45 years of age.


MIDDLETOWN DAILY ARGUS Mon. 5/10/15 Flagman Walker Killed By Falling On The Track. Losing his grip on the flag post on the front of the engine on which he was riding, when the air brakes were suddenly applied, Charles A. Walker, of Summitville, fell from the engine at Fair Oaks Sunday morning, and striking his head on the track suffered a fractured skull. He died almost instantly.Walker lived in Middletown at 155 Linden avenue until three weeks ago when he was transferred to Summitville. He was employed by the O&W as a flagman.

   Sunday morning, he was ordered out on an O&W coal train starting from Summitville. When the train neared Fair Oaks, going south, O&W passenger train No. 92 was heard coming and the coal train took the siding to allow the passenger train to pass.

   Walker was standing on the front of the engine, holding on the flag post. As the train neared the siding the air brakes were applied suddenly. Walker had evidently not expected the sudden stop and did not have a firm hold on the post. At the sudden slowing up of the train he lost his grip and fell from the engine, striking his head on the track on which No. 92 was to come.

   The coal train had stopped and Walker was picked up. When the passenger train arrived a few minutes later the injured man was placed in the baggage car where he immediately expired.

   The train continued on to Middletown and stopped at the Wickham avenue station and Coroner Harding was called. The deceased was aged 26 years.


Messenger Boy Hurt - Frank Culver, one of the Western Union messenger boys, was injured this morning when he fell over a track in the O&W yards while on his way to deliver a message.


MIDDLETOWN DAILY ARGUS Fri. 5/14/15 Switch Engine in Wreck- Two switch engines collided in the O&W yards at 3 o'clock this afternoon. No. 247 smashed into the rear of 89 and ripped out the rear, wrecking the water tank and doing considerable damage. No one was injured.


MIDDLETOWN DAILY ARGUS Sat. 5/22/15 O&W Man Was Injured. Henry Van Gorden, an O&W flagman, was injured this afternoon at 3:15 when he was struck by a brake stick. He was knocked to the ground. The man was quickly picked up, placed on a switch engine, which was run to the station and then taken to Thrall Hospital.


MIDDLETOWN DAILY ARGUS Mon. 5/24/15 - Johnson Hare, an O&W engineer, has just received a new Cadillac auto through the North End Garage, and was out in it on Sunday.


MIDDLETOWN DAILY ARGUS Fri. 5/28/15 - O&W Man Has Leg Broken -        Isaac Pinckney, of this city, a carpenter employed by the O&W, broke his leg and sustained slight bruises when he fell from a scaffold on which he was working at the railroad docks at Cornwall Thursday afternoon.

   Pinckney was doing some repairing on the dock, working on a scaffold eight feet from the ground. It is stated he stepped off backward when reaching for something over his head and fell to the ground.  He was quickly picked up and made as comfortable as possible until O&W No.7 came through when he was placed on the train and brought to Middletown, arriving here at 6 o'clock and taken to Thrall Hospital.


MIDDLETOWN DAILY ARGUS Sat. 5/29/15 - Heavy Travel on O&W - O&W train No. 7 passed through Middletown in two sections Friday enroute for Sullivan County. No. 5 also carried extra cars and was pulled by two engines. Traffic on the road today is also exceptionally heavy.


Two train riders were picked up in the O&W yards this morning by Special Officer George Hadden.g on No. 1 at 10:43.