Posted By Norman Gasbarro on May 8, 2014
For anyone researching and studying the Civil War Train Wreck at Shohola, one of the best places to begin is to obtain a copy of George J. Fluhr‘s The Civil War Tragedy at Shohola: A Compilation of Details Regarding the Great Prison Train Wreck at Shohola, Pennsylvania. This publication, by Pike County’s official historian, has been printed in several forms – as a stand-alone booklet or pamphlet and as part of a larger history of Shohola Township (published in 1992). The various forms are essentially the same and differ only in the section titles and pagination. The easiest ones to obtain would probably be the 1997 edition (22 pages) produced by the Pike County Commissioners as “A Pike County Historical Publication.” [Note: There are later editions of this work including a greatly expanded one published in 2011, by the Shohola Railroad and Historical Society and sold by the Wayne County Historical Society, 120 pages. For further information on the 2011 edition, see end of post].
In the introduction to the 1997 publication, it is stated “that there are more than a few contradictory reports which have posed questions for research…. It will become obvious that much more research remains to be done. It sometimes seems that each answer to a question raises more questions. This brochure was prepared more to assist and challenge those who will continue to do research in the future, rather than to provide general information.”
Fluhr’s credentials on this topic are impressive. By 1997 he had studied the Civil War wreck for more than 25 years and had written many articles and given many talks on aspects of the incident and aftermath – and he continues to do so even to the present day. Working with the cooperation of his neighbors and the Shohola Railroad Historical Society, he has gathered a significant quantity of resources related to the wreck, has corresponded with individuals seeking information on those killed or injured at the scene, and he has encouraged others, including students (high school through graduate school), to do further research.
I had the privilege of meeting with Fluhr on several occasions in 1999 and 2000 to talk about the train wreck and on each occasion, he willingly shared with me all his files. The research that I was conducting at the time was for a special exhibit which was supposed to be housed at the Pike County Historical Society in Milford, Pennsylvania, but the exhibit never came about and shortly afterward I left the area and put I aside my Civil War research until I started “The Civil War Blog” in August 2010 as part of the Civil War Research Project of the Lykens Valley Area. In researching the Civil War veterans for the Project, I quickly came to realize the interconnectedness of the Lykens Valley area with Elmira, New York, and the war effort. These interconnections were related to the railroad network at wartime, the movement of men and materials through the Susquehanna River Valley, the anthracite coal fields, and the number of Pennsylvanians who moved about all over eastern and central Pennsylvania before, during and after the war.
The sections or areas covered by George J. Fluhr are as follows:
1. The Story of the Great Prison Train Wreck.
2. How Many Soldiers Died as a Result of the Wreck?
3. How was the transfer from New York to the Erie Made?
4. Where was the Exact Site of the Wreck?
5. Where was the Exact Site of the Graves?
6. Who were the Soldiers, Dead as a Result of the Train Wreck?
7. Who were the Wounded Brought to the Village of Shohola?
8. Who Helped the Soldiers After the Accident?
9. What are the Legends Associated with the Wreck?
10. What Locomotives and Cars were on the Trains?
11. Are there Any Pictures of the Wreck?
12. What Other Accidents Occurred at the Site of the Wreck?
13. What Sources Can Be Used for Further Research?
The most recent edition of Fluhr’s work is entitled The Shohola Civil War Train Wreck: The Great Prison Train Disaster in Pike County, Pennsylvania and was published by the Shohola Railroad and Historical Society in 2011 in commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the accident. It consists of 124 pages and is a greatly expanded and updated version of Fluhr’s earlier works on the train wreck. It can be ordered from the Wayne County [Pennsylvania] Historical Society through its web site.
To see all the posts in this series, click on ShoholaTrainWreck.