News of Otsego County

Christopher’s Restaurant

CLOSE: Since 1974 D&H Crash, Errors Often Repeated

Since 1974 D&H Crash,
Errors Often Repeated

To the Editor;

Your article about retiring Oneonta Fire Chief Pidgeon notes his recounting to you his memories of the D&H Train Disaster of Feb. 12, 1974. You state, “…when a D&H train derailed at Emmons and one of the tankers exploded.”

In fact, seven tankers carrying LPG or propane exploded that day – I know, because I was there, and saw the whole thing unfold from start to finish, as a nearby resident.

I have followed the story closely over the years, and have endeavored in vain to correct a major factual error that the NTSB carried into its report that states that the derailment occurred around 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

That is false – the derailment occurred between 12 noon and 12:30 p.m. that day, but the Daybook which the OFD maintained contained that error because an officer wrote it in several hours after the call actually came in – which is not the time of the accident.

Lazy investigators didn’t correct the error and it now goes forward in time as an inaccurate recollection of the events of that day.

I have interviewed surviving firemen on this issue, and have tried to have the record corrected for posterity – so far, to no avail.

You should, at least, correct this error for your readers.

On a related Oneonta Fire Department issue, it has been almost four years since Christopher’s Restaurant in Oneonta mysteriously burned down, and there are still no answers as to the cause.

Why not query the OFD and ask, “What gives?”


Fire Chief: Christopher’s Fire Started In Dining Room

Fire Chief: Christopher’s Blaze

Started In Front Dining Room

Oneonta Assistant Fire Chief Jim Maloney, front, confers with fire investigators, while Don Tubia, left, helps sift through the rubble of the front right corner, where the early-morning fire that destroyed Christopher’s Restaurant is believed to have started. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – The overnight fire that destroyed Christopher’s Restaurant on Southside started in the front right corner of the building, a dining area, according to Oneonta Fire Chief Patrick Pigeon.

A passerby called the fire in at 2:20 a.m. and crews arrived less than five minutes later to find the fire fully involved. “We started an aggressive attack through the front doors, but after 10 minutes, we realized it wasn’t going to work,” said Pigeon. “The fire was already up in the roof system.”

According to Pigeon, they spent another 20 minutes inside trying to battle the blaze, but with so many rooms, the fire was impossible to contain. “We would douse one room, and the fire would just be pushed to the next,” he said.

Fire Destroys Christopher’s Restaurant



Oneonta Landmark Burns Overnight

The fire that broke out overnight completely destroyed Christopher’s Restaurant on Southside.  The landmark was unique locally:  It was built and decorated as an Adirondack lodge, evident in the trophies (foreground) that decorated the walls. The cause remains under investigation (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – The Oneonta Fire Department is still on the scene after an early morning blaze destroyed landmark Christopher’s Restaurant on Southside.

The call came into the city fire department at 2:20 a.m. and professional firefighters arrived on the scene to find the restaurant fully engulfed.  “It no longer exists,” said fireman Al Sayers Lutz. “It’s been completely destroyed.”

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103