A Deadly Family Outing in the Adirondacks


On Sunday, February 9, 1936 five Broadhurst family members from the Utica area boarded the Snow Train for a day’s outing in Old Forge region. Nine year old Robert T. Broadhurst, his mother, Elizabeth and his 22 year-old cousin Eva Broadhurst are the only known members of this outing. The Snow Trains brought many winter sports enthusiasts to the Central Adirondacks from 1936-1941.

After an active day and looking to return to the Thendara train station, two men were sitting on the back bumper of a car and offered Eva a tow on her toboggan back to the station. Eva told him to tell the driver and after a few minutes away he returned and attached the sled. Robert with his cousin Eva along with Betty Fitzgerald, Jessie Talarico and Mary Montemurro would ride the toboggan behind Mr. Leon Eldridge’s car. Mr. Eldridge’s passengers were Robert’s mother, Elizabeth along with Catherine Mitchell and Frannie Goldstein. They got underway to the station. It was snowing and the toboggan was swerving back and forth along the Old Forge highway. Seeing the swerving sled, an oncoming car stopped to avoid hitting the toboggan and when it did the car behind it, operated by John Foley, skidded and plowed into a snow bank. As Mr. Eldridge passed the Foley car, the toboggan swung wildly. Robert was hurled off and into the stopped car. Mr. Eldridge continued on to the station. John Foley rushed the injured boy to a local doctor.

Mr. Eldridge dropped his passengers off at the station and then when hailed by witnesses, went to the doctor’s office. Apparently, Dr. Lindsey held little hope for Robert’s recovery as the child had badly fractured his skull. The Snow Train’s return was delayed as it waited for Robert to be brought aboard to be taken to Utica’s Faxton Hospital. Robert, on an emergency cot, was placed across the seat backs. Both Mr. Eldridge and Dr. Lindsey accompanied him back to Utica. Dr. Douglas attended Robert at the hospital but it was to no avail as Robert died within three hours of the accident.

The following Wednesday Robert’s funeral was held at the home of his uncle, John Richard “Jack” Broadhurst on Court Street in Utica. The rector of St. Paul’s Chapel, Reverend Robert Moore, officiated. The bearers were brothers Arthur (25 years old) and William Adams (21) and cousins Lawrence (13) and Kenneth Broadhurst (14); all cousins of Robert.

A few days later an inquiry was held by the Herkimer County Coroner and he ruled  Robert’s death accidental. Mr. Eldridge consistently testified that he did not know the toboggan was tied to his car or that he was aware of accident until later. He testified  that his passengers, to include Robert’s mother, did say something about a mishap behind them. Directly contradicting him was cousin Eva who rode with Robert. She testified that Mr. Eldridge was aware of the attached toboggan. Which, given that Robert’s mother was in the car, seems most likely indeed.

In May, the fourth grade pupils of Kernan School presented Robert’s parents, Peter and Elizabeth, with a large red rose bush to be planted on his Forest Hill Cemetery grave as a tribute to their classmate’s memory.

Robert T. was my father’s young brother; Ernest Broadhurst later named his first son, my brother, Robert Thomas in his honor.


I wrote this posting based on newspaper articles written at the time of the accident. The articles were found using the web site.



Categories: accident, family history

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