The Great Kipton Train Wreck

Oberlin Weekly News, April 23, 1891

According to the report in this newspaper, two trains came together fifty feet east of the Kipton depot. "A large piece of steam chest was thrown on the depot roof and rolled off". The article goes on to say that the concussion of the impact on the roof broke most of the depot windows.

The depot can be seen in both train wreck pictures.                       Click on photos to enlarge them.

The local passenger train from the east was behind schedule and instead of waiting at Oberlin for the fast mail train to pass by from the west, went on to Kipton A freight train was sitting on the siding that the engineer had planned to use and going eight miles an hour by this time sought a second siding. The mail train came around the curve from the west going forty-five miles an hour. The engineer's view being blocked by the freight on the siding, he did not see the passenger train in time to slow down. Both engineers and a fireman were among those killed. Three postal clerks sorting mail also died.

The accident occured on April 18th and eight people died in the crash.

The Kipton Disaster and Webb C. Ball

Most of the accounts of Webb C. Ball usually begin with the story about the collision of two trains in Kipton, Ohio. The story usually states that the engineer's watch was four minutes slow and not knowing this, it didn't leave enough time to get on to the siding. Some still argue about the watch being slow, but due to this wreck on the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad in Kipton, the General Superintendent of the Lake Shore Line appointed W.C.Ball as Chief Inspector to investigate time keeping.

  • W.C.Ball was a Cleveland jeweler and as a direct result of the collision he investigated railroad timekeeping,and finding practices woefully deficient, instituted watch performance and inspection standards in 1893. Subsequently he became Chief Time Inspector for many railroads and had many American manufacturers produce a quality railroad timekeeper: the Ball Railroad Watch. 

  • You have probably heard or even used the old saying, "Get on the Ball".  Kipton is where it started.

Kipton Depot

Train Wreck 1
Train Wreck 2
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