Our farm is on the top of a hill on the edge of the Allegheny Front, and at one time a railway ran along the base of the same hill, descending the front. Every day we cross the trackway (now bare earth) at McCann's Crossing, and pass the memorial for the Walter L Main's All New Monster Shows Train Wreck of Memorial Day, 1893, claimed at the time it occurred to be the worst tragedy in circus history.
There are local verbal accounts, not all of which seem to be substantiated by the on-the-spot news coverage of the day. One rumor claims the wreck was caused by one drunk Jake Friday, sleeping on the tracks (which may tell you more about the reputation of the extensive Friday clan in the area than about the disaster). Apparently the circus elephants were harnessed to help pull the wreckage apart. There is supposed to be a large pit grave for the dead animals at the memorial site (most of the circus horses died, as well as a few others). Hannah Friday meeting the tiger while milking her cow is still a popular story, no doubt partly because the official memorial refers to it.
As the memorial declares:
All the animals that were not shot were finally accounted for. The snakes were never recovered.
(A nice bit of writing, that.)
Excerpts from a variety of contemporary news accounts…