Trains still pass through Chariton at the rate of dozens a day, mostly on the main line of the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe; fewer on Union Pacific tracks. In fact, one is rumbling through a block east now, at 5:38 a.m. on a Monday.
None stop these days, however. Nor is it likely that a locomotive will provoke your Prius and cause it to run away.
That was not the case back in pre-Prius days when iron horses and live horseflesh had frequent encounters. Accounts of the aftermaths of these, some fatal, pepper back issues of Chariton newspapers. Here are a couple I came across over the weekend while looking into other matters.
From The Herald of Aug. 25, 1887, under the headline, "Blockading Crossings" ---
"Last Friday afternoon as C.F. Plimpton, of Whitebreast township, was returning home from Chariton he found a freight train blockading the crossing at Whitebreast. After waiting some time for the train to pass, he asked the conductor to break the train and allow him to cross. This was done, but the opening was barely sufficient to allow the wagon to pass through, and the horses became frightened and upset the wagon, throwing Mrs. Plimpton heavily to the ground, injuring her very badly. She was carried to an adjacent farm house where she remained until the next day before she was able to be taken home. Her injuries though not serious are quite painful, and will keep her from household duties for some time. There is a great disregard on the part of railroad men for the convenience and safety of those who are obliged to be near the railroad with teams. It seems to be a pleasure to many of them to hold crossings as long as possible, and if the conductors were arrested for such work and fined a few dollars they would be more civil and accommodating."
Here's another report, this one from The Patriot of Sept. 14, 1905, under the headline, "Serious Runaway" ---
"Sunday morning about 10 o'clock as A.B. Gookin and a guest of the family, C.E. Carlisle, of Berberton, Ohio, were taking a drive about town, the horse became frightened in crossing the railway tracks and when nearly opposite the freight office started to run away; going east on Auburn Avenue.
"Upon reaching the alley at Mr. Gookin's residence (at the corner of North Main and Auburn), the buggy wheel struck the curb with such terrific force that both gentlemen were thrown upward and, turning partly over, Mr. Gookin fell heavily, striking on his head and shoulder, bruising and cutting his face, badly injuring his nose and rendering him unconscious.
"Mr. Carlisle fell on his side heavily, but was not so seriously hurt. At this point the frightened horse ran diagonally across L.F. Maple's yard, dragging Mr. Carlisle, who held to the lines, until running into and upsetting the swing at Maple's the animal was stopped and the injured man extricated from his perilous situation. He was found to be unconscious. Dr. Yocom was summoned and everything possible done to alleviate the suffering of the injured men.
"Today --- Wednesday --- Mr. Carlisle had so far improved, though still suffering much pain, as to be able to resume the journey homeward, he and his wife leaving on No. 6 and will stop in Davenport to visit their daughter before returning to Ohio. Mr. Gookin, being more seriously hurt, is doing as well as could be reasonably expected."