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Roger Hensley

  Railroads of Madison County
Jack Sands
Train Wreck at Fonda

Mr. Hensley,

I did a Google search and found the photos of the July 1947 train wreck at Fonda, NY, that  you had posted on the trainboard website for Don Relyea. They are great photos.  At the time of the wreck, I was 15 years old and lived a few miles away.  When my family heard about it on the radio, we drove to the scene.  As the photos show, it was a big mess.

During World War II, we would sometimes drive to Fonda and watch the high speed NY Central trains pass by.  It was quite a treat for me as a kid. The troop trains always had the window curtains down and the freight trains carried all sorts of military tanks, artillery, etc. on flat cars. There was also a high speed New York to Chicago passenger train, which I believe was called the 20th Century.  A lighted sign on the end of the last car identified it. As each train passed the tower (site of the 1947 train wreck), the conductor would wave a lantern signal to the man in the tower.

As a kid, I was as fan of the now defunct Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville (FJ&G) Railroad.  The tracks ran behind my house in Gloversville, NY.  On the final trip of one of the steam locomotives, there was a rail fan ride from Gloversville to Broadalbin and back. We were allowed to ride anywhere we wanted to.  Some people rode on the roofs of the passenger cars and the caboose. We took turns riding in the locomotive.  In those days, there apparently was no concern about liability and law suits if fans were hurt. As a kid, I wanted to be a locomotive engineer, but as it turned out, I followed a different career path.

Thanks for posting those great photos.

Jack Sands
Waldorf, Maryland

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