"I smashed a coin on the rail tie ... And also was advised by someone that I could have derailed the train."

Published6 July 2001

Share on facebookshare on TwitterShare ~ above PinterestShare on RedditShare via Email



Kids have actually beein put pennies ~ above train tracks practically as long as there have been trains and pennies. Our grandparents left pennies on streetcar tracks in the wishes that pass streetcars would flatten the coins, calculation them into great luck pieces. A usual misperception tied come the activity is the laying a penny on tracks will certainly actually cause a train come derail:

“I smashed a coin on the railroad tie, and also was advised by someone that I might have derailed the train. I have heard this before, and also I think it could be an city legend, however wasn’t sure.”

Has leaving a coin on the tracks ever resulted in the derailment the a train? If the has, we’ve never ever been able locate file of such an accident. What has actually resulted indigenous attempts to ar coins ~ above rails, however, is the deaths the those who’ve engaged in the practice. The doesn’t happen often, but it has arisen enough time that such an outcome remains a very real possibility:

In 1992, Rolyn J. St. Louis (45), a homeless man in Columbus, Ohio, passed away while pennying the tracks. He’d placed a coin on one set of tracks, climate stood ~ above another, unaware the the oncoming train he’d heard was coming under the set he was standing on.

You are watching: Can a penny derail a train

In 1997, Shelly Lynn Wice (14) and also Jessica Ann Hart (14), two teenagers from Oil City, Pennsylvania, died in comparable fashion. They were standing top top one collection of monitor watching for a train come flatten the pennies they’d left ~ above another collection of rails, as soon as a train take it both the them. One girl died at the scene; the other died a couple of hours later on in hospital.

In 1986, Laura Ann Foote (18) that Chico, California, didn’t obtain out that the means of one oncoming train conveniently enough — the train flattened her and also her penny.

In 1996, Bruce Darling (25), a dad of two, to be hit complete on by one InterCity train traveling at 110 mph in ~ the Cramlington terminal in Northumberland, England. He’d been trying to flatten pennies after acquiring the idea while drinking v friends.

In 2007, retirement police officer David Buffa (55) the Ripley, new York, determined to jump in former of a train to display how a penny would be flattened by it. If trying come climb back onto the platform, he was struck by the train.

Pennying the tracks can result in secondary danger: occasionally those coins shoot the end from under the train’s wheels at significant speeds, turning them into potentially deadly little projectiles.

Leaving items various other than pennies on railroad tracks has caused trains come derail. In July 1999, 3 Indiana youngsters were charged with having caused the south Shore passenger train to run the monitor in Michigan City after ~ they inserted a brick ~ above the tracks. No injuries resulted, but that was an ext due come luck than anything else. The derailment the a six-car passenger train isn’t specifically something come sneeze at.

Kids have constantly done oddball things, some more risky than others — flattening pennies ~ above railroad monitor is a time-honored practice, for this reason cautions versus it space not likely to bring around its end. Yet it’s precious driving residence to souvenir-minded youngsters that it’s always important to be extra cautious when playing about trains. Indeed, this legend might have begun as a cautionary story intended to lessen the motivation for children to play with on near railroad tracks.

Lash, Cindi and Patrick Hernan. “Town battles with fatality of Teen-Agers.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 12 august 1997 (p. A13).

Maddux, Stan. “3 Young girls Arrested in Train Derailment.” south Bend Tribune. 16 July 1999 (p. D2).

Associated Press. “Woman eliminated by Train for Penny ~ above the Track.” The Toronto Star. 5 June 1986 (p. H12).

See more: Bret Baier Three Days In January, Three Days In January: Young Readers' Edition

The Columbus Dispatch. “Homeless Man’s coin Move expenses Him His Life ~ above Tracks.” 1 September 1992 (p. C2).