~FROM DAVID ORR, TRAIN WRECK WREATH LAYING~
(Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich)
Two elephants from the Hanneford Circus lay a wreath Wednesday at the site of the 1893 Walter L. Main Circus Train Wreck Memorial in Tyrone.
Elephants lay wreath at site of train crash
By Greg Bock, firstname.lastname@example.org
TYRONE - Blustery weather didn't deter a crowd from gathering Wednesday for the elephant wreath-laying at the Walter L. Main Circus Train Wreck Memorial near Tyrone.
"Are they going to eat all that?" 4-year-old Caleb Murray asked as the pair of Asian elephants, Lulu and Chang, from the Hanneford Circus began munching on a oversized lunch of bananas, celery, lettuce, carrots, apples and hay.
"He just gulped it," said brother Shaun Murray, 7.
Lulu and Chang were the first elephants since 1958 to lay a wreath in honor of the five people and scores of animals killed May 30, 1893, when the circus train careened from the tracks near Vail, along Van Scoyoc Hollow.
The Rev. Norman Huff, who conducted the brief memorial service, said the animals are God's creation, and despite controversy that dogs modern circuses about the treatment of animals, they are well cared for and loved.
Susie O'Brien, president of the Adam Forebaugh-Barry Lubin "Grandma" Tent of the Circus Fans of America, briefly described the events leading up to the early morning calamity, noting the Pennsylvania Railroad's miscalculation of how much braking power would be needed on the descent from Sandy Ridge because of the extra long circus rail cars.
Afterward, O'Brien said the event went well and noted another memorial service would be held closer to the 117th anniversary date next month.
The saga of the train wreck was recently published in a book co-authored by O'Brien and historian Paula Zitzler. "Unscheduled Stop, the Town of Tyrone and the Wreck of the Walter L. Main Circus Train" is available through the Tyrone Historical Society and also at Gardners Candies in Tyrone.
The wreath-laying and elephant luncheon was possible because the circus, set to perform next week at the Jaffa Shrine Center, came to town early because of the Easter holiday.
Laura Lehner, 16, lives three houses down from O'Brien, where the elephants had their lunch, and was busy snapping pictures.
"I like it," Lehner said. "It's pretty cool. I don't get to see elephants often in my yard."
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7446.