[N&W] N&W Mailing List - More Wreck Master discussion

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Tue May 4 22:14:30 EDT 2004

Howard W Ameling writes:

Dear Ron:	When I first read about the Wreck Master, I didn't think I
could add anything as I didn't know,  either,  who that might be in all the 
employees that are at each one. But after reading the group of letters just 
received I thought I'd add what I know from having covered some wrecks over 
my 45 years of Rail Photography.

Let me add at this point that my wife's uncle was the wreck train wrecker
operator for the NKP at Bellevue, Ohio for over 15 years.  His normal 
duties was Car Inspector but on any wreck he was on call 24 hours a day 7 
days a week...  I never had the pleasure of watching him pick up a NKP 
Locomotive I have seen him pick up detailed cars etc.  He was relieved of 
that duty when on a derailment and picking up a diesel with everything 
properly braced for the operation, as he was  picking  it up one of the 
cables snapped and the wrecker rocked back and forth and finally rolled 
over on its side.  He was not injured but blame was on him for reasons I 
never knew  as never saw a copy of the derailment  from the ICC.

But I have covered other bad derailments one in particular comes to mind, 
that being the B&O/E-L head-on at Sterling, O; January 11, 1965 which 
involved 8 diesels, 4 of B&O & 4 of E-L.  I spent the entire day watching 
and taking B&W & Color slides of what took place from ground and air.  Also 
from what I have read on wrecks I can add personally that where steam 
engines are concerned it usually took a wrecker on each end to actually 
pick it up where possible, however sometimes that involved rolling it over 
first so as to get a better hold.  One wrecker could pick up one end and 
move it close enough to re-rail the locomotive but at most wrecks there 
were wreckers at both ends of any wreck and they would work together when 
picking up a locomotive.  I have three photos and negs.  of a LS&MS wreck 
at Mill Creak(Sandusky,O) which shows two wreck cranes picking up a 4-4-0 
from in the Mill Creek.  Sometimes at derailments involving two railroads 
they could have up to four wreckers there two from each road.

While this does not answer the questions who is the wreck master, it does 
answer what Bob McKell brought on using two where possible.  I also agree 
with his comments on what happened to get all the crews to the railroads 
when a derailment took place for the wreck train to be readied to leave as 
quickly as possible.  On NKP they kept  wreck trains at Bellevue,  and Ft 
Wayne  so anything between those two points would get both to a 
derailment.  They also maintained wreck trains at other points on the NKP 
but this tells what takes place between two points without adding 
additional info on where other trains were.

I do have quite a number of derailments on several roads including wreckers 
being use for anyone so interested in seeing or having  prints of 
them.  Ron Davis knows how to contact me with those requests.

I am not an authority on all of this so am only telling you what I know 
from experience and from having covered enough derailments to have the 
knowledge on the above.

I'm sure there are those retired from all railroads that worked as wreck 
crews or others like me that were able to cover wrecks over the years that 
could add there knowledge as well..

Howard W. Ameling <nkp4 at juno.com>

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list