Adena, OH Tunnel Collapses on Train, Oct 1930


One Body Is Recovered But Another Victim Is Held Underneath Debris

Rocks Tumble Down Today On Caboose As Engine Leaves Trap

STEUBENVILLE, O., Oct. 23.--(AP)--Two men were crushed to death and a third was injured seriously in the collapse of three hundred feet of railroad tunnel on a Wheeling and Lake Erie freight train caboose at Adena twenty-five miles southwest of here today. The victims were removed by rescue crews after six hours of digging in debris.


The last body that of E. E. Duga, Dillonvale, was removed from the demolished caboose today. The crews first found the body of Jerry L. Sells, a conductor, and then released Al Romando, a trainman, who had been wedged between boulders. Romando suffered a broken arm and leg and a crushed hip.

Both Duga and Sells were caught under the heaviest part of the cave-in and were crushed. Romando was saved by supporting timbers that stopped the fall of dirt from the tunnel roof.


The caboose was caught with six cars of a local freight train about three hundred feet from the east end of the tunnel which is about eight hundred feet in length. The six cars were pulled from the tunnel by a locomotive but the rescue crews were unable to reach the caboose from that end and attacked the west end where only a small amount of debris had fallen.

After four hours of digging they reached the demolished caboose and removed the body of Sells.

Officials investigating the accident expressed the opinion the caboose may have left the rails, striking supports in the tunnel which caused the slide, or that the car may have struck a loose timber overhead and caused the cave-in.


A crowd estimated at three thousand gathered around the tunnel to watch progress of the rescue work.

Reno Evening Gazette, Reno, NV 23 Oct 1930


Wheeling and Lake Erie RR photographs online

Go to CLEVELAND MEMORY for two photographs of this tunnel collapse

Harrisville Ohio Tunnel collapse
date: Oct 23 1930
Black and white photographs x 2

Harrisville tunnel collapse, viewing east end of caboose #8 under rubble.
photographs taken Oct 28 1930 by J K. Hayhurst

Cleveland state university. Michael Schwartz Library, special collections
Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad collection

Wheeling and Lake Erie Tunnel Collapse of Oct 23, 1930

October 25, 1930 PAGE 8


Louis Hromada, 32, brakeman, died in a Martins Ferry hospital today of injuries received yesterday, when a tunnel on the Wheeling and Lake Erie RR branch near Adena, 25 miles southwest of here, collapsed on a freight train killing two other trainmen,
Jerry O. Sells, 40 conductor, and E. E. Duda, 35, brakeman, were crushed to death in the fall of tons of rock and soil which officials believed may have resulted from the train caboose's jumping of the track or from a loose roof support's striking the caboose.
Hromada was conscious when removed from the shattered caboose seven hours after the accident. Investigation of the cause of the accident has been started by RR inspectors from Wooster.

This article states the death of my namesake, my uncle, Louis Hromada of Dillonvale, Ohio

Wheeling and Lake Erine Tunnel collapse of Oct. 23, 1930

Plain Dealer Oct 24,1930
W. & L. RR seeks cause of cave-in
Rescuers save brakeman after digging 15 foot shaft through rock and debris.
Train caboose buried by huge avalanche
200 battle to reach entombed trio.

Following the rescue of one trainman alive and the recovery of the bodies of two others from Harrisville Tunnel, near Adena at the Western edge of Harrison
county,late today, officials of the Wheeling and Lake Erie RR began an investigation to determine the cause of the cave-in which engulfed a section of a coal train this morning, burying the three men in the wrecked caboose.
Louis Hromada, 32, brakeman, was brought out alive after being imprisoned more than seven hours when rescuers dug a 15 foot shaft under the debris in the center of the tunnel. He had a broken right leg, broken right arm and crushed chest and was taken to
General Hospital at Martins Ferry, O. where physicians said tonight that his condition is serious.
The body of Jerry O Sells, 40 conductor, was the first recovered. He apparently had been instantly crushed to death.
The body of E. E. Duda, 25, brakeman, was recovered after Hromada had been rescued. He, too, had been crushed to death.
All three men lived at Dillonvale, Ohio.
The accident occurred on a branch line as a train of 25 empty coal cars was being taken into a St.Clairsville mine, with the caboose on the front end of the train,
Although the cause has not been determined, it is believed that the accident resulted when the caboose struck an extending beam from the roof of the tunnel and ripped the timber loose, bringing down tons of earth and rock, which crushed the caboose and adjoining cars.
The tunnel is 30 years old and there have been similar accidents, though not of such a serious nature, trainmen said.
Another theory was that the caboose had jumped the track and piling up in the tunnel had ripped the timbers loose, letting down the avalanche of rock.

Two hundred Section and bridge crews, brought from all parts of the division, worked in relays in the rescue work.
Tons of earth and rock had to be moved before any of the entrapped men could be reached.
At first it was supposed that all 3 were dead, but Hromada, pinned down by a big limestone rock, called to the workers and assured them he was "all right".
Rescuers were unable to reach the caboose from the east end of the tunnel and then went to the west end, where they dug for more than 4 hours before reaching Hromada.
No trace of Duda's body was found until late this afternoon.
Meanwhile, a crowd of 3000 had gathered at the tunnel, which is about 800 feet long and 200 feet high. The portion that caved in was 300 feet in length.
H.T. Parrish, assistant and general manager of the
Wheeling and Lake Erie RR took charge of the investigation late today.
The bodies of Duda and Sells were taken to the morgue at Dillonvalle, Ohio.

Wheeling and Lake Erie RR tunnel-caboose accident of oct 23 1930

The third trainman to die on october 24, 1930 in this tragic tunnel collapse along with sells and duda was my uncle, Louis Hromada of Dillonvale, ohio

Caboose wreck near Adena, Ohio 1933

Brakeman Duda was not supposed to be in the caboose, he was the head brakeman and should have been on the engine. It was later discovered that this was a new caboose and it was over sized, and would not fit through the tunnel.