John Vonderlin: Ocean Shore RR could be dangerous work

Story from John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,

 Here are some of the articles I’ve got about

the Ocean Shore Railroad’s accident problems.

This first is from the December 16, 1905 issue

of the “Call.” Do you know where Baldwin’s was?

This is a poor safety record in this stretch, even

for the time. But, the work was dangerous and in

some matters unprecedented. Enjoy. John




. SANTA  CRUZ.. Dec 15.— “Venando J.

Esplanola lost his leg this morning as a

result of. a premature, blast on the Ocean

Shore Railroad tunnel at Baldwin’s, up

the coast. Frank Murphy, an employee of

the same company at Laguna, fell four-

teen  feet down an embankment  and

struck on an adze. He was badly cut.”


   A year later there is a worse one. It seems

strange the hiring agency didn’t ask for

“next-of-kin” contact information given the

dangerous work. This apparently was just a

few months after Mr. Johnson’s blast accident

that allegedly caused his insanity.   This is

from the Feb. 23, 1907 issue of the “Call.”


   “The police of this city have been asked

to locate the wife of C H. Bennett,

foreman for the Ocean  Shore Railroad

of  Half moon Bay, who met death as the

result of a blast last Sunday evening.

Bennett secured his position through a

local’ employment agency, and a letter

received.yesterday by that firm asking,

for the address of the deceased wife was

turned over to the police.” 


  And then, just days after poor Mr.

Johnson faced an insanity trial, this fatal

accident happened. This was in the

July 6, 1907 issue of the “Call.”





July’ 5.—”Word has reached here of  the

death of Hans Swanson, a laborer in the

employ of the Ocean Shore railroad. He

was crushed in one of the tunnels of the

San Mateo county  division of the  road.  

A huge boulder broke a support directly

above the unfortunate  workman.

Swanson lived 12 hours. He leaves a

brother in  Philadelphia, and a sister in


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