The Brookline Junction - 1930

Brookline Junction, 1930.
The caption read: A Mount Lebanon street car early today plunged through an open switch at West
Liberty Avenue and the Brookline Junction and crashed against a pole. The dotted line shows
the car's path. Inset is of Miss Elizabeth Hartman, 15, one of nineteen persons injured.

The following article was published in the Pittsburgh Press on Thursday, May 29, 1930. It documents a trolley accident at the Brookline Junction involving an inbound Mount Lebanon trolley that jumped the tracks and slid across West Liberty Avenue, crashing into a steel telephone pole.

In addition to the article, the photo of the Brookline Junction is interesting in a few ways. Behind the Amoco service station at the corner of West Liberty and Brookline Boulevard is the large cement silo with the tall stack. This was the ventilation shaft for the Oak Mine under Brookline, which was still in operation at that time.

In 1930, Brookline Boulevard still went up to the left, in the same direction as the arrow, following the path of present-day Bodkin Street. The 39-Brookline trolley continued straight along the line of the rails onto a private right-of-way that, in the distance, looped to the left and merged with the boulevard at Pioneer Avenue. This would become the present-day route of Brookline Boulevard five years later, in 1935, when the right-of-way was widened and paved for automobile traffic.


Six Women and Man in Hospitals Suffering Bruises And Shock


Flying Glass Endangers Passengers at Brookline Junction

Six women and a man were in hospitals today and twelve other persons were being treated at their homes for injuries suffered when a Mt. Lebanon street car jumped the tracks on West Liberty Avenue at the Brookline Junction and crashed into a utility pole at 12:20am this morning.

None of the injured is in critical condition.

Mainly they are suffering from shock, severe bruises, contusions and cuts.

Switch Left Open

The accident was caused, according to Pittsburgh Railway Company officials, by the switch at Brookline Junction being left open by the motorman of the car ahead of the car which was wrecked.

Earlier in the evening, a Brookline car was derailed in the company's yards near the tunnels. Because of this, it was necessary to reroute cars over the Dormont line and turn them back onto their regular route at West Liberty Avenue, officials said.

The wrecked car was inbound. The car ahead, officials said, made the outbound turn and the switch was not closed.

A warning sign regarding speed of cars was posted at the South Hills Junction Railways office today, as follows:

"Operators of Routes 38 and 29 must consume 6 1/2 minutes from Brookline Boulevard to Tunnel office."

Officials of the company said the notice had no bearing on last night's accident. Notices are posted from time to time, they said, and this warning was coincidental with the wreck.

Three of the injured, Hilda Schenk, Carl McGuire and Millie Schoen, are currently being treated at South Side Hospital. Still under card at Mercy Hospital are Mrs. Bertha Doege, Mrs. Gertrude Hopscher, Miss Dorothy Goldstrom and Miss Armella Goldstrom. The Goldstrom sisters, of Brookline, live on Plainview Avenue.

Several other victims were treated at hospitals and released, while others received first aid treatment at the scene.

Boy Among Victims

Charles Doege, 14, was treated at Mercy Hospital and released, while Elsie Schoen received treatment at South Side Hospital before being sent home.

Others who received treatment at the scene for cuts due to flying glass were: Joseph Bettung, Joel Kuhlman, H.E. Steffen, Mrs. F. Panella, J.K. Koschak, Exy Bailey, Irene Holzapfel, N. James and Clarence Brown.

Victim Tells of Crash

McGuire, one of the injured, said that just before the accident the car seemed to be traveling at a high speed.

"We were going rather fast, but the route is all down hill there and cars always make it at rather a high speed," he said.

"I was sitting in the rear of the car when it hit the curve and went off the track."

"The car swayed and I expected it to turn over. It's a wonder to me it didn't."

"The one thing fixed in my mind as we lurched over the curb was a sign board. It seemed to be flying towards us and kept getting larger and larger. It seemed of huge proportions when we struck the pole, and that's the last I remember."

Motorman Blames Switch

A.J. Hogan, 28, the motorman, blamed an open switch for the accident.

"We were six minutes late coming into Brookline," Hogan said.

"It was still dark. I didn't see the open switch until I was right on top of it. Then it was too late."

"I jammed on the emergency brake and the car slid along about sixty feet on the tracks, then jumped from the rails and went sixty feet more, crashing into a telephone pole."

"It was aweful to hear the women passengers in the car screaming and moaning. I couldn't get the center doors of the car open so I tried to aid them all out of the car from the front door. Some were so anxious to get out, they broke windows."

"I wasn't hurt at all."

"If I hadn't put on the brakes when I did, all of us would have been killed. The trip was my last for the night."

Other passengers said the car hit the iron pole exactly at the center doors.

Passing motorists and other witnesses immediately started to aid the injured and remove them to hospitals.

Elizabeth Hartman, Hilda Schenk and the Goldstrom sisters attended a kirmes at the Alvin Theatre last night, given by one of their friends. Miss Hartman was on her way to spend the night at the Goldstrom's home. She and the younger Goldstrom girl both are pupils at St. Michael's School.

Glass Flies in Car

"I thought we were going at a pretty high rate of speed, but we were talking about where we had been and didn't pay much attention," Miss Hartman said.

"Then the car went off the rails, and for a minute we swayed and slid along. Then there was a terrible crash and glass was flying all over us. I fainted, and don't remember anything more until they took me to the hospital."

Miss Hartman did not notify her parents of the accident. Today, when her mother was told, she fainted.

The wrecked car was quickly removed by an emergency crew.

Passion Play Star's Sister Prays as Trolley Crashes

How she prayed she and her sister would escape death as a Mt. Lebanon street car careened into a pole early today was revealed by Armella Goldstrom, 15, of 1900 Plainview Avenue.

"Some women screamed, and others cried when the car jumped from the tracks," Miss Goldstrom said.

"But I just sat there and prayed. I guess the prayers were answered because no one was killed. My sister and I were badly cut, but we will recover."

The sister is Miss Dorothy Goldstrom, 21, amateur actress, who has had the leading role in St. Michael's Dramatic Club Passion Play at St. Michael's Church for several seasons.

"I was on my way home from a Kirmes given by a friend," she said. "My sister and two chums were with me. The car made a sharp turn at the bend and almost rolled over. Glass flew everywhere."

"Once we got outside someone drove my sister and me to Mercy Hospital, and here we are."

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