Erie Railroad Biography - Alexander W. Logan

Alexander W. Logan

ALEXANDER W. LOGAN, Akron, Ohio. (Deceased.)
Alexander W. Logan was born in Wigtonshire, Scotland, on April 30, 1844. While Mr. Logan was still very young, his father Alexander McLean Logan, who was a railroad man, brought his family to America and settled in Akron. Mr. Logan attended school until he was 14 years of age, and for the next succeeding five years worked on a farm. In October, 1863, he went to work on the Atlantic & Great Western on a construction train, and the following spring secured a regular situation as fireman. He fired freight three and passenger one year, when his excellent work was rewarded by a promotion to engineer. He ran freight fourteen years and had a passenger run for seventeen years. At the time of his death he had charge of a run on the fast trains Nos. 5 and 8, the New York Vestibule. During the thirty-six years he was in the employ of the Erie system, he established a record of which his friends are justly proud. The accident in which he was killed was the only one he had ever had, and the officials have at numerous times in the past attested their appreciation of his efficient services.

He was married to Miss Mary Graybill at Akron on November 15, 1866. Four children were born to them: Jennie B., aged 31, educated in Akron and Galion, is married to C.F. Schanck, an Erie engineer, and lives in Galion; Mary E., died at the age of 7 months; Jessie E., aged 25, was educated in Akron and is now teaching school there; Alexander McLean, aged 22, was educated in Galion and Akron. Mrs. Logan died June 6, 1896, and on January 27, 1898, Mr. Logan was married to Miss Anna Mather of Indianapolis. Mr. Logan was a member of B. of L.E., Division 16; I.0.0.F., Akron Lodge No. 547, and Protective Home Circle, Akron Lodge No. 54. He owned a nice home property in Akron and was highly regarded in his community. Mr. Logan was an earnest and hard worker for the B. of L.E., and had served on all its important committees with great credit.

He met death March 22, 1899, while running between seventy and eighty miles an hour on train 5, the fast New York and Chicago Vestibule. Near Rittman, Ohio, the engine jumped the track at a switch frog, and turning over buried him underneath. Mr. Logan was fearless and died as he always said he would, if anything ever happened, with his hand at the throttle. He was a delegate to the B. of L.E. conventions in Buffalo, San Francisco, New York and Richmond, Virginia. A prominent newspaper, commenting upon Mr. Logan's death, said: "Engineer Logan's death was heroic. He had ample opportunity to jump and save his life, but he realized the responsibility of protecting his human freight and stuck heroically to his post. When found under the cab of his engine his hands clutched the throttle. Two weeks before the accident he said he expected to meet his death on his engine. He was buried under the locomotive boiler, the reverse lever having passed through his body."

Erie Wreck at Rittman, OH, 1899

Excerpted from: "American Locomotive Engineers, Erie Railway Edition," H.R. Romans Editor; Crawford-Adsit Company Publishers, Chicago, IL 1899.

Newspaper Reports of the Wreck from the Marion Daily Star:

March 22, 1899:
Kent, OH, March 22 - The engine and baggage car of the Erie passenger train No. 5 jumped the track at Rittman, at 7:30 this morning. A. Wallace Logan, engineer, of Akron, OH, was killed.

No passengers were injured in the accident at Rittman. Barney Ward of Galion, the fireman, is badly hurt. He will live, however.

March 22, 1899:
Engineer Wallace Logan, who was killed in the Erie wreck at Rittman this morning, and his fireman, W.B. Ward, who was seriouly injured, are both well known here. Wallace used to run into this city and still has a large number of friends here among the local railroaders, who learned with regret of his death. Ward's parents reside in this city.

Owing to the disastrous wreck which occurred on the Erie this morning to train 5, a special train was made up here for the C&E. It carried out all of the westbound passengers from here and the Chicago mails, which came in over the Hocking Valley at 10:05 o'clock. It left here almost on time.

March 30, 1899:
Tells The Story - Byron Ward Talks of Death of Engineer Logan -- In the Wreck at Rittman -- Says the Brave Man was at his Post to the End -- Gives His Sensations Before and After the Engine Left the Rails

Byron Ward, who was the fireman on Erie train No. 5 on the morning of the wreck at Rittman, says engineer A.W. Logan met death at his post. He says:

"I was standing in the gangway between the tank and the engine -- had just finished putting in coal -- when I felt the engine go off on the ties. I knew something was up and that we might have to jump. Just as she went off the rails, I saw Logan put on the emergency air, but I don't believe any four men could have reversed her running at that speed. I kept my eyes on Logan after he had put on the emergency, thinking I would jump if he did. But he didn't -- he kept his hand on the throttle, and the last I saw of him he was leaning out the window, his teeth set with that firm determination so peculiar to him, his hand on the throttle, calm and determined to do all in his power to save the lives of those on the train. After this it seemed that I was getting squeezed, and gradually I could feel unconsciousness stealing over me. The next I knew of Logan was when they told me he was dead. I don't remember whether I jumped, but if I did I did it unconsciously, for my whole thought was that the best way out would be to follow Logan -- jump if he jumped and stay on it if he stayed on. But he died at his post, and the number of lives he saved by staying on will never be known, for with a man less cool than he, the whole train might have been wrecked."

Mr. Ward pays a high tribute to Mr. Logan, but in it we recognize the Wallace Logan we always knew. What he thought right he would do, no matter what the odds, and the personal sacrifice mattered not if he could do someone else a kindness. And it may be truthfully said, this kind of men are legion among the brave men who make their bread on the rail.
-- From the Galion Leader

From the April 3, 1899 issue of the Marion Daily Star:
Wallace Logan, the Erie engineer who was killed at Rittman a few days ago, says a Kent special in today's Cincinnati Enquirer, stood very high to the officials of the road, and his opinions were always considered in making up the schedules. He had the fastest run on the Cincinnati Division, and had broken the record over the division several times. He appreciated the friendship of the officials, formed and cemented by 36 years of service. A few days before his death, he called his family about him and exacted from them the promise that they would not sue the company for damages should he meet accident or death while at work. He explained that every man, to earn a living, must run some chances. He had taken his chances willingly, the company had paid him well and promptly, and he had accumulated considerable property by the labor the road had furnished him. He left his family well provided for.

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