The Doodlebug Disaster (A 70th Anniversary Post)

2641 Front St. (in Riverfront Park)
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
No phone
Hours: Dawn to Dusk

When tragedy strikes the shock of the initial story can linger on for several years, but as the decades pass it gradually becomes legend. The Doodlebug disaster was such an event. On July 31, 1940 most of the passengers on the innocently-named street car met their maker in a fiery crash that still has yet to be matched in the Cuyahoga Falls area.

The Doodlebug was a track-based, gas and electric-powered train that ran between Hudson and Akron. Many witnesses and local media couldn’t agree on exactly why it happend, but the fact remains that the Doodlebug was traveling at top speed when it smashed into a Pennsylvania Railroad FC-4 freight train.

The FC-4 had 73 loaded freight cars. The Doodlebug had 46 passengers and hundreds of gallons of gasoline. When the two collided the FC-4 almost split the Doodlebug in two and pushed it back 500 feet beyond the point of impact. Moments later the fuel ignited, incinerating almost every man, woman, and child who survived the crash. Strangely enough, there were three survivors: An engineer, a conductor, and a single passenger who all bailed before total destruction.

A memorial garden now exists at the location of the disaster. In 2005 (the 65th anniversary of the accident) a group of students from Sill Middle School helped fund a granite marker to remind locals of the event. In the above photos you can see both the marker and a set of the original tracks on which the Doodlebug ran.
You can read the full (and far more detailed) story of the Doodlebug disaster in Cleveland’s Greatest Disasters by John Stark Bellamy II.


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One Response to “The Doodlebug Disaster (A 70th Anniversary Post)”

  1. Mike Says:

    Wow, what a terrible accident. Never knew the whole story until now. Good post!

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