A dedication ceremony is planned Wednesday for the Marshall-Hardwick-Steed Memorial Monument.
The monument throughout the 20th century became an historic fixture in Cleveland’s downtown landscape. Officials with the city of Cleveland will hold a brief ceremony at the site of the marble monument at the History Branch of the Cleveland Public Library.
It was originally dedicated in 1890 to the three young and prominent members of the Cleveland community who died in a train crash on July 2, 1889, just a short distance from the community of Thaxton, Va.
Although it is not known specifically how many people actually died in the crash, 17 people were officially pronounced killed in the crash. It was believed others who may have been on Engine 30’s Passenger train No. 2 that stormy night may have been consumed by the fire that subsequently raged in the washed-out ravine where the engine and passenger cars fell, according to Michael E. Jones, author of “Lost at Thaxton.”
Marshall, Hardwick and Steed were on their way to New York, then to Paris and a visit to the Holy Land, according to historical accounts researched by Debbie Riggs, author of “The Day Cleveland Cried.”
Torrential rains in the Southern U.S. had caused problems for everyone, including travelers who were slowed by flooding, mudslides and trees downed across roadways and rail lines.
The Norfolk Western train left Cleveland, and sometime around midnight railroad officials ordered the train slowed due to the flooding conditions.
According to Jones’ book, the engine and its other cars approached the Thaxton crossing and as they went over a section of culvert, the ground gave way beneath it.
Steed’s body was recovered and was sent back to Cleveland July 3. The bodies of Marshall and Hardwick were reported to have been “consumed” by the intense fire which followed.
The raging creek, turned into a river due to the rainstorm, caused Steed to drown.
The Cleveland men were on the first-class passenger car, which was completely destroyed by the fire.
Cleveland townspeople were shocked to learn of the news of the crash and the three men’s deaths.
The Monument was erected in 1890 in their remembrance.
Wednesday will mark its 124th anniversary.
Recently, a two-vehicle crash sent the obelisk tumbling onto one of the cars and into the Confederate States of America Civil War Monument. The obelisk was broken into three pieces. A company in Elberton, Ga., was in charge of repairs and the monument was reset Thursday.
According to Marilyn Kinser Kinne, president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, cleaning and restoration of the CSA Monument is set to begin after Independence Day.
Anyone wishing to purchase a copy of Riggs’ book can visit the Museum Center at Five Points.
It covers the stories behind the landmarks known as “the monuments.”