Audio station about Train Disaster.
Hear the horror of the Ashtabula Train Disaster at this audio memorial in front of the hospital.

Ashtabula Horror - Train Wreck Disaster

Field review by the editors.

Ashtabula, Ohio

"The Ashtabula Horror" so traumatized this city that three memorials commemorate it: a plaque near the crash scene, an obelisk in the cemetery, and an audio memorial outside of the hospital.

It happened December 29, 1876, when the Ashtabula Creek Bridge collapsed into a 70-foot-deep gorge.

In a blizzard.

With a train on top of it.

Ninety-two of its 159 passengers and crew were killed. As if the crash weren't bad enough, the passenger cars' stoves caught fire and incinerated many of the survivors.

Historical Marker for Ashtabula Train Disaster.
Historical Marker for Ashtabula Train Disaster.

Then robbers invaded the flaming wreck and murdered several more.

This disaster was so bad that it reportedly killed railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt from shock. The bridge designer later committed suicide. The railroad's chief engineer was murdered and it was made to look like suicide. Ashtabula became a shunned town, its growth stunted, with homeowners and businesses bypassing it in favor of Cleveland.

Overall, not much to celebrate, but Ashtabula makes the best of what it has.

Twenty years after the disaster, a tall obelisk was erected in Chestnut Grove Cemetery. Beneath it were buried 19 bodies from the wreck that had never been identified. It's still the tallest gravestone in Ashtabula.

The historical marker used to be down by the railroad tracks, just west of the crash site, but it's been moved north to the grounds of the Ashtabula County Medical Center. It notes that The Ashtabula Horror "is listed as one of the world's ten worst technology disasters in the past 375 years."

Driving in the cemetery.
Mass grave hunting as darkness falls (and before the cemetery locks the gates).

The unique audio memorial is in a little garden in front of the entrance to the Medical Center; push the button and you'll hear the harrowing story of the wreck, complete with sound effects. And the Ashtabula County Medical Center is itself a kind of memorial -- the nicest one in town -- as it was built to help lessen the casualty count of any future calamities like the one that happened six blocks south of it.

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Ashtabula Horror - Train Wreck Disaster

Address:
Lake Ave., Ashtabula, OH
Directions:
Train Wreck Historical Marker: Hwy 11 north to US 20 exit. West on US 20, over the bridge, then right at light onto Lake Ave. Go under the railroad overpass. The marker is on the right, as you reach the grounds of the Ashtabula County Medical Center.
Save to My Sights

Train Wreck Audio Memorial

Ashtabula County Medical Center

Address:
Lake Ave., Ashtabula, OH
Directions:
Hwy 11 north to US 20 exit. West on US 20, over the bridge, then right at light onto Lake Ave. Go under the railroad overpass. A few more blocks on the right will be the Ashtabula County Medical Center. The memorial is in the little garden in front of the front entrance.
Save to My Sights

Train Wreck Grave Obelisk

Chestnut Grove Cemetery

Address:
Grove Dr., Ashtabula, OH
Directions:
Chestnut Grove Cemetery. Hwy 11 north to US 20 exit. West on US 20, over the bridge, then an immediate left onto Main Ave. Go through downtown. Make a left onto Grove Drive at the car dealership, just before railroad overpass. The cemetery is at the end of the street. The obelisk is at the top of the hill, toward the back, near the center, tallest one in the cemetery.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

More Quirky Attractions in Ohio

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Ohio.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

October 24, 2014

My Sights

Map and Plan Your Own Roadside Adventure

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Ohio Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

San Francisco Dungeon, San Francisco, California (Oct 20-26, 2014)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Book Online Now