Sue Salsburg always knew her great-grandfather, Hiram Auman, was killed in a train wreck but the details came to light in clippings found in an old family bible. Turned out he was the engineer of a 2-6-0 camelback making up a coal train in the yard & was hit head on by a freight coming on the main at high speed. Sue and her husband are building a small layout as a memorial to him and are having great fun with the modelling. The two newspaper articles below tell the sad tale:
from the MAUCH CHUNK DEMOCRAT - AUGUST 12, 1899
That Ever Happened in the Mauch Chunk Yard
One of the most disastrous wrecks that ever happened in the Central yard at this place, occurred at ten minutes past 11 last Friday night. Freight train No.400, one of the fastest between Mauch Chunk & Jersey City, drawn by Engine #413, Charles Keck, of East Mauch Chunk, engineer, had just left the siding at Coalport somewhat behind time & was coming down the yard at a rapid rate of speed, when, without a moments warning, it crashed into Engine # 390, which, in charge of Engineer Hiram Auman was leaving the roundhouse to cross over the main track so that it could back down to his train a coal train that 390 was scheduled to pull to E-port. It was considered by railroaders to be a crossing accident: the two huge monsters meeting on the crossing. The result was simply awful. Hiram Auman, of East Mauch Chunk, the engineer on the 390, was pinned under engine & his body was terribly mangled. The engine was turned on its side, dismantled & shattered, the life being crushed out of the unfortunate man almost instantly, the body being fairly cooked by the heat from the boiler.
Charles E. Keck, of
Aumans fireman is a new man who
boards at Rehrigs Hotel on
The scene, even at the next morning, after the wrecking crew had been at work all night with a large force of men, beggared description. The dead engineer was immediately under his locomotive & it was utterly impossible to get at the body until about this morning, when the engine was raised with jacks & the crushed remains taken out. They were removed to Yeager Bros. Undertaking establishment on Broadway & prepared for the grave.
There are many theories as to the cause of the accident but all hands agree that no signal was turned against the freight & Engineer Keck knew nothing whatever of the engine being in his road.
**** Sketch of the Dead Engineer ****
Hiram Auman, the dead
engineer, was about 40 years of age & resided in Twinings Triple block on
from MAUCH CHUNK COAL - AUGUST 8, 1899
A frightful wreck occurred in the Central Railroad yard, about one hundred yards above the East Mauch Chunk bridge shortly after eleven o'clock Friday night. Hiram Auman, engineer, of East Mauch Chunk, was killed & William Zerby, conductor, of Mauch Chunk, had his legs broken & was otherwise injured.
The crash was occasioned by the
collision of fast freight "400", Scranton to Jersey City, with engine # 390.
Hiram Auman of East Mauch Chunk was the engineer of the coal train & at the throttle of #390 was about to pass out from a roundhouse siding to the main track to get his caboose a short distance down the line. Just as his engine was on the cross-over frog, the freight train, traveling from 35 to 40 miles an hour, crashing into it.
In an instance, the scene was changed. In place of the splendid, solid, rapidly moving train of freight cars with its ponderous, powerful engine, that seemed almost a thing of life, now appeared as if by magic, masses of twisted iron & steel, crushed woodwork & damages merchandise. Engine # 390 lay on her side-a scrap heap- and saddest of all under her lay her former master, his hand on the reverse lever, asleep in death. Engine #413 struck engine #390 with such terrible force that she was thrown athwart the tracks & then fell over on her side. Engineer Charles Keck also went down with his machine & was assisted from the debris practically uninjured. Conductor William Zerby was thrown violently from a box car to the tracks & suffered a compound fracture of his right leg. His left leg was also injured & his body badly bruised & lacerated. His injuries were dressed at the hospital car after which he was taken to St. Luke's Hospital. Fireman Stein of 413 & Fireman Kitchen of 390 were practically uninjured. How either escaped with their life is truly a mystery.
Engineer Auman was taken from his cab on the under side of his engine shortly before 10 0'clock. His body was terribly crushed, the face not much disfigured. The remains were taken in charge by Undertaker Yaeger. The dead man's hand was on the reverse lever & this means that he saw his danger & pluckily stuck to his post in the hope of averting inevitable disaster. He failed & the name of another hero is added to the scroll of the army of faithful railroad men who have given their lives in sacrifice to duty. The victim was a member of Lodge 257 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Mauch Chunk., He leaves three children, two boys & one girl, the oldest 10 to mourn his death. Mrs. Auman died a year ago.
The scene of the wreck was visited by hundreds of people next morning. Four or five tracks were torn up & about 20 cars were wrecked, many being reduced to splinters. The sight was one of ruin. Grusome indeed was the sight of the hand, arm & shoulder of dead Engineer Auman under Engine # 390. For about twelve hours the body lay there without any attempt being made to release it. This sightseers & fellow railroadmen characterized as a downright shame. The argument that the huge steam wrecking crane, used to clear the debris, could not be gotten within working range, was met by propositions to " jack" up the ponderous machine. But the prime object seemed to be to " gather up the strewn merchandise & get the road in operation".
The wreck crew made rapid headway & got things generally pretty well straightened out by noon. Responsibility for the wreck can only be placed by an official inquiry, The investigation will be made in due season. Railroad engineers are not accustomed to switching onto the main line without first protecting themselves. Just who is responsible, therefore, will not be known until all the men interested have spoken.
**** Engineer Auman Buried*****
All that was mortal of Hiram Auman, the unfortunate
engineer who was killed Friday night in the Central yard wreck, was laid to rest Sunday
afternoon in Hollenbach cemetery, W-B. The funeral took place from his late home on
Fairview Hill at 9 o'clock. Services were held at the house by Rev. Bachman. His remains
were taken to W-B on the 9:45 train & Lodge 257 B. of L.E had charge of the obsequies.
There was a large number of friends & relatives in attendance There were several
beautiful floral offerings sent in by relatives. The pallbearers were Luther LaBarre,
George Riley, John C. Rehrig. Lewis Muschlitz, D.E. Bailey & Lewis Provost.
***** Later Note*********
Engines #413 & #390, which were wrecked in the yard last week, are being repaired at the Ashley shops.