My husband, Bob’s great grandfather, Chester Leary worked for the railroad for most of his adult life. As a railroad worker, I’m sure he saw his share of close calls and accidents over the many years he worked there. Many railroad accidents make the national news, of course, but it’s possible they didn’t so often many years ago, because communication wasn’t quite as good. Nevertheless, if you lived near the train wreck, I’m sure you heard about it. I’m also sure that railroad yard accidents were a somewhat common occurrence. There is so much that goes on in a railroad yard, that sometimes things get missed, and an accident happens, but in my research for this story, I couldn’t find the accident in question here, or in fact, much information about very many railroad yard accidents at all. Maybe they just weren’t a news worthy event, unless someone was killed in the accident.
In fact, I wouldn’t have known about this train wreck at all, except that Bob’s cousin, Joe Brown sent me the picture of the wreck, with Chester Leary in the picture. The picture had the date of the accident listed on the picture, so I know that the date is correct…May 2, 1919. Nevertheless, when I looked for information on that train wreck in Forsyth, Montana in the railroad yard, I found absolutely nothing. To me that is such an odd thing. My curious mind wants to know more about how this accident happened. Was someone not paying attention to the trains coming in and out of the yard? Was anyone hurt? When did electronic tracking of the trains come into being, and would that have made a difference, since it all happened in the yard?
Unfortunately, Bob’s great grandfather is no longer with us, and in fact he passed away in 1950, before either of us were born, so we couldn’t have possibly asked such a question, and wouldn’t have know to had we been born earlier. I’m sure his grandmother, Vina Hein knew what happened, because she was probably told all about it by her dad, Chester Leary. I don’t know if her dad was involved, or not, but I’m sure that would have been a story told around the dinner table that night. I really wish I could have had the opportunity to ask Bob’s great grandfather or my grandfather about all of their railroad experiences, because I have to think that it would have been very interesting to hear about it all. Especially about when things went very wrong.