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Forest Lawn monument remembers victims of ‘Angola Horror’ train wreck

A Forest Lawn ceremony Saturday dedicated a new monument to the 49 men and women who lost their lives in the 1867 railroad accident known as the “Angola Horror.”

The Friends of the Village of Angola created the monument, which was placed at the gravesites of the victims, many of whom were unidentified.

On Dec. 18, 1867, about 200 people boarded the last coach of the Buffalo-bound New York Express of the Lake Shore Railway, which had departed from Cleveland. The train derailed and caught fire in Angola.

Intending to make the journey was future oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, but he arrived a few minutes late at the station, and although his baggage made it onto the train, he did not, according to cemetery officials.

Among the victims were Western New York residents Eliakim B. Forbush, a lawyer who was returning from a successful court case in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Lydia Strong, who was on her way back home after attending a funeral in Ohio.

Many of the unidentified victims were buried in Section 3 of the Buffalo cemetery.

In addition to the 49 people who died, dozens more were injured.

The accident triggered a public outcry that resulted in many railroad reforms, including the replacement of wooden cars with iron cars, more effective braking systems and the standardization of track gauges.

The “Angola Horror” also is the title of the 2013 book written by Buffalo News Staff Reporter Charity Vogel. The book recounts the story of the deadly accident.

Vogel, who was recently awarded the New York Academy of History’s 2016 Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship for her book, delivered remarks Saturday.

Friends of the Village of Angola led the dedication ceremony, joined by representatives of Forest Lawn.