Chestnut Grove Cemetery - The Ashtabula Train Disaster

Indelibly burned into the memory of Ashtabula County, even 130 years after the fact, is the horrific train disaster which occurred near here on December 29, 1876.

A Pacific Express train wrecked near Ashtabula on December 29, 1876, when the trestle it was crossing collapsed, dumping the train into the icy river below. Ninety-two of the 160 passengers and crew died from the impact or in the fires which erupted inside the crushed cars when stoves and oil lamps exploded. Rescue attempts, mostly futile, were launched, but what they recovered were mostly bodies. Twenty-five charred corpses were interred at nearby Chestnut Grove Cemetery, beneath a marker which bluntly refers to them as the Unrecognized Dead.

Two suicides followed the inquest into the incident. Bridge engineer Charles Collins shot himself in the mouth and was buried near the train disaster memorial in Chestnut Grove. Designer and architect Amasa Stone killed himself a couple of years later.

Now people who take photographs near the memorial find odd things in their pictures. Men and women in period clothing, always with coats and scarves, are spotted among the tombstones. Sometimes a man, thought to be Charles Collins, is seen weeping his apologies against the memorial. Creepy stuff.



Dziama, Doug and Jennifer Dziama Teed Ghosts of the North Coast. Gettysburg, PA: Second Chance Publications, 2013. pp. 11-19.