Located in Aultorest Cemetery, you would probably walk past Herbert Griffin’s grave and never realize it was there. The worn granite headstone, simple in decoration, is lying flat from spending the last 114 years in exposed to the elements.
Herbert Griffin was a 25-year-old man who worked as a fireman for the Southern Pacific Railroad. His job was to shovel coal into the boiler on the steam locomotives.((http://www.insidejobs.com/careers/railroad-fireman)) A particularly hot and backbreaking job it seems.
Early in the morning on December 1st, 1903, Herbert Griffin and Engineer Charles Bogart were headed eastbound on a light engine. They were pulling another dead engine with them. As they neared Montello, Nevada, they encountered some dense fog. They weren’t too concerned about the lack of visibility because they had the right of way and there shouldn’t have been any other trains on that track at that time.
While making their way up the hill to Montello, they suddenly came upon a westbound freight train. With no time to react, they hit the freight train head-on. Both of the light engines derailed, and the force of the crash tore up the track and piled up debris. Herbert Griffin and Charles Bogart were thrown from the train and Bogart was lucky to be thrown clear of the engine.
Herbert Griffin was not as lucky and ended up not only underneath the wreckage but was also enveloped in the scalding hot steam escaping from the engine.
The men in the freight train escaped the crash without injury. They were quickly able to get Herbert Griffin out from under the debris. Reports at the time said that he was so badly burned he was unrecognizable. Herbert and Bogart were placed on a caboose headed for Ogden’s Union Station. It soon became clear that Griffin would not survive his injuries. He died while passing through the town of Corrinne.((Ogden Standard Examiner, December 1st, 1903 )) The train pulled into the Union Station shortly after 2 am. The horse-drawn wagon that was waiting to take him to the hospital took him to the undertaker instead.
Herbert Griffin was described as: “A young man of exemplary habits, quiet and gentlemanly and has a host of friends in this city.”
The funeral for Herbert was held on Friday, December 4th, 1903.