14. Subway Sign

IofAW 41bButton - ListenOn May 1, 1936, advertisements asking for bids from contractors to construct a reinforced concrete subway under the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway tracks appeared in newspapers across Arizona.  New Deal funding was pouring in across the country for large construction projects.  On Tuesday, December 16th, 1936 the subway was officially turned over to the City of Winslow and opened for vehicles to safely travel under the train tracks.  According to the newspaper, half the population of the town attended the dedication and drove or walked through the new subway well into the evening hours.

The construction of the subway was a hugely celebrated event as the community finally had a safe way to avoid the train tracks and access the southern side of town as well as Clear Creek and the Winslow-Pine Highway, now known as Highway 87.  For years, crossing the tracks on Williamson Avenue was a constant danger for the citizens of Winslow.  Children heading home from school would race their bicycles across the tracks, dodging the speeding trains.  Wagons and cars would get stuck in the heavy ballast that lined the rails and have to be hurriedly hauled out of the way.

People in rural Arizona continued to use horses and buggies long after the Phoenix metropolis area had switched to automobiles.  It wasn’t uncommon to see wagons pulled by horses struggling to cross the train tracks in Winslow.  In the early 1900’s, one of these wagons was destroyed by an oncoming train. 

IofAW 45tThe driver was urging the horses across the tracks, eyeing an oncoming train in the distance.  The horse and the first set of wagon wheels made it to the other side, but the rear wheels caught in the ballast.  The driver flicked the reigns and snapped his whip, urging the horses to pull harder but it did no good.  The heavy train had no way to stop in time and barreled through the crossing. 

The driver was too slow and never left the wagon seat.  The wagon was ripped clean from the horses who were spun around by the force of the passing train.  The wagon, and its driver, were splintered into tiny pieces when the locomotive hit them.  Locals have since been plagued by the sounds of men yelling and horses screaming in terror at that intersection.  Railroad Engineers regularly call in sightings of a horse-drawn wagon alongside the tracks before it vanishes into mist, leaving only the horses screams lingering in their ears.

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