Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Rough Handling

Legendary orchestra conductor Eugene Ormandy has a close shave on the PRR
My father, Richard Henderson, was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad as a shop clerk in the motive-power department at Toledo, Ohio, from 1901 through 1955. He told me the following story, and I will never forget it.

During World War II, troop trains were given rights over virtually every other train on the road. Such was the case early one morning with west-bound train 69, the New York-Detroit Red Arrow. The train was being handled by a K4s Pacific, as usual, and had to take siding somewhere east of Toledo to meet an eastbound troop trains. Aboard the Red Arrow this day was a prominent personality, Eugene Ormandy, conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Ormandy was regarded as the best in his business, and the PRR, a key patron of the Orchestra, took great pride in having him ride its trains. Needless to say, Mr. Ormandy was given the best of treatment.

This day, he was on his way to conduct a performance in Detroit. Well, when that troop train cleared the siding switch, it seems that the Red Arrow's hogger was anxious to make up lost time, and he widened on that K4's throttle too quickly. And wouldn't you know it … just at that moment, Mr. Ormandy was getting ready to shave. As he prepared to perform the first stroke with his razor, the train's slack ran out … and Mr. Ormandy slashed his cheek from ear to chin!

Later that day, everybody from the president of the railroad to the engineer on the Red Arrow, from section foremen to the Toledo road foreman of engines, heard about Mr. Ormandy's accident. It was never to be repeated!


Read and share your comments on this article

Want to leave a comment?

Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Free download

Free download

Passenger trains from the classic era.


Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Classic Trains magazine. Please view our privacy policy