Ashtabula Bridge Disaster.

Train Wreck Grave Obelisk

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

To the memory of the Unrecognized Dead.

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.

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 a suicide. Ashtabula became a shunned town, its growth stunted, with homeowners and businesses bypassing it in favor of Cleveland.

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

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

Also see: Ashtabula Horror

Train Wreck Grave Obelisk

Chestnut Grove Cemetery

Grove Dr., Ashtabula, OH
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.
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