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Isaac Cole (1913 photo)

Many an engineer goes through his perilous career with never an accident to jar upon his overwrought nerves, while others, again, experience several of those occasions when the hand of Providence seems to shield them from harm. Isaac Cole, born in New York City in 1843, is one of the latter class, and his first accident occurred back in the 1860s when he was braking. The squeezing that he received on that occasion injured him so badly that even yet he is troubled more or less, and just recently he was laid up for several months on the old score. While firing old No. 6, a wood burner, for Joe Johnson on the Northern, the engine mounted the rails and tipped over into the ditch, and Mr. Cole was found beneath a pile of wood which was dumped from the tender. In 1873 his engine jumped the track near Newark and plowed up to the headlight in mud, but by timely jumping Mr. Cole escaped injury. The last wreck he experienced was at the crossover at Weehawken, his engine being run into by a train on the other road and badly damaged. Mr. Cole escaped injury on this occasion, but his fireman, J.M. Burke, was severely scalded.

Mr. Cole was born in New York City in 1843, and is the son of Abraham I. Cole, a machinist of that place. The young man attended school until he was 14 years of age and then went to work in a wholesale tobacco manufactory, leaving that place some time later to take service with a lawyer for whom he acted as clerk. He was in the service of his country for a short period at the close of the war, going out with the 22nd New Jersey, and serving in the First Army Corps under General Reynolds at Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg. In 1864 he entered the service of the Erie, firing a wood burner between Monsey and Jersey City, and was promoted to engineer on September 6, 1875. For a number of years he ran in the freight service of the road, but of late has had a switch engine and been in charge of a construction train.

In 1869, Mr. Cole was married to Miss Chanty Christie, daughter of Joseph Christie, a boss-mason of Eastwood, NJ. Two children have been born to them: Percy Franklin, married, is a photographer, but is now engaged in the chair business at Cleveland, OH; Margaret, the daughter, resides with her parents in their pretty home on West Street. Mr. Cole is affiliated with the B of LE and General Gabriel Paul Post, GAR of Westwood.

Excerpted from: "American Locomotive Engineers, Erie Railway Edition," H.R. Romans Editor; Crawford-Adsit Company Publishers, Chicago, IL 1899.

From the September, 1913 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine:
Among those who have served the Erie Railroad well, honorably and faithfully, is Isaac Cole, locomotive engineer, who has recently been retired from the service, having reached the age of 70 years. The day Mr. Cole quit the New York Division lost one of its real veterans and a man who was well and favorably known all along the line.

Mr. Cole's record is as follows:
Born in New York City, May 18th, 1843. In 1862 enlisted in 22nd Regiment New Jersey Volunteers and served 10 months and 4 days. Went to work in the Northern R.R. shops at Piermont for a few years. About 1868 commenced as fireman on the old Northern R.R. and was promoted to engineer, September 6th, 1875. Taken out of service May 18th, 1913, account of reaching the age of 70.

On being retired Superintendent Dickson wrote him the following letter:

Mr. I. Cole, Engineer.
Dear Sir:
It has just come to our notice that your name has been taken off the engineers' roster account of reaching the 70 year age limit. Our records indicate that you began service with this Company as a fireman in 1868 and a locomotive engineer during September, 1875, and that since that time you have very creditably served the Erie Railroad Company. Your record is one of which any man should be proud, and it gives us great pleasure to congratulate you, and wish you good luck in any program which you may follow from now on. If there is anything which we can do for you, we hope that you will not hesitate to call upon us. Your name will be placed on the list for annual transportation account "past services."
Yours truly, (Signed) J. B. Dickson, Superintendent

Back to Erie 1899 Index