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Town finds crash monument days before anniversary

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The monument, which had been missing for at least a year, was discovered by crews from Swampscott’s Department of Public Works.

A monument commemorating a train crash in Swampscott that killed 13 people and injured more than 100 others has suddenly reappeared — two days before the 60th anniversary of the accident.

The monument, which had been missing for nearly a year, was put back in place by crews from Swampscott’s Department of Public Works on Friday, according to Town Administrator Thomas Younger.

"I'm glad," said Younger in a telephone interview, shortly after he posted an image of the stone marker to Twitter on Friday. "It's part of the story of our community. I'm very pleased."

The monument stands outside the Swampscott train station, which is owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The stone, which was accidentally removed by a snowplow last year, was found Friday behind the Swampscott town cemetery, where the town keeps work vehicles and equipment.


The monument pays homage to the people who were killed on Feb. 28, 1956. A Salem-to-Boston train that was running late plowed into a second train that was sitting on the tracks after breaking down, according to Globe archives.

Snowy conditions and human error were blamed for the accident.

The marker was placed at the station during a ceremony in 2006, on the 50th anniversary of the crash.

A flag was raised about the monument's disappearance in the form of a letter and article published this week in the Swampscott Reporter, a weekly newspaper that covers the North Shore town.

"No one seems to know what could have happened to it. All we know is when the snow melted away it wasn't there," Swampscott historian Lou Gallo told the newspaper.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said Friday evening that the monument had been mistakenly scooped up by a snow removal contractor last winter and was taken to where the contractor was piling snow. When the snow melted, the marker reappeared.

"The contractor then brought the stone to the DPW in April," Pesaturo said. It was unclear whether the DPW knew it had been returned by the contractor.


Younger said there was no formal plan to mark the 60th anniversary of the accident this weekend, but officials from the town Fire Department placed a display of photos, a list of the victims' names, and an explanation about the crash in the Town Hall lobby this week.

"When it happened, it was a significant event," said Swampscott Fire Captain Kevin Thompson. "You have to commemorate the history."

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.