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Gustavus Decatur Folsom "Paps"

(Engineer of the Columbia Engine)


Born: 1837

Married: Anna M. (Ewell) Folsom on Dec. 24, 1860 in Boston, MA

Lived at: 346 Lake St. Cleveland, OH

Died: Unkown



Gustavus D. Folsom was the engineer of the second locomotive the “Columbia” that crashed into the gorge after the bridge collapsed. Amazingly, Folsom survived the crash with just a broken leg and was able to crawl out of the wreckage. His fireman - Peter Levenbroe, who was with him in the engine when it fell was not so lucky and died of his injuries while riding the relief train to a hospital in Cleveland, OH.


Folsom’s testimony to the Joint Committee described the crash and fall. “As near as I could judge I was about two-thirds of the way across the bridge. The first sensation I experienced was the track giving away." The Columbia was drawn forward, struck the abutment, and for an instant was held by the coupling rod, but when the rod broke, it fell. The first express car smashed into the foot of the abutment and the Columbia flipped and fell on top of it, instantly killing all inside. It was a sickening and horrifying sound as the first cars slammed into the gorge, then the rest, falling or being launched off the edge, struck the car in front of it. Folsom, hurt and in pain, managed to pull himself out of the overturned steaming Columbia and yelled for help into the howling blizzard surrounding him. When there was no answer, he pulled himself through the deep snow up to the abutment. As rescuers carried him out of the gorge, he saw his friend and engineer of the “Socrates” Dan McGuire and yelled, “It’s another Angola Dan, another Angola.” He was referring to a derailment train disaster that happened at a bridge in Angola, New York just ten-years earlier.






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