Argyle students learn train safety through nonprofit group
Argyle ISD students were given presentations on train safety recently by Texas Operation Lifesaver.
AISD Police Chief Ralph Price coordinated the two-day event with an evening presentation for parents. Daniel Gibbon and Steve Lazzari from Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit organization that provides educational programs to help prevent, collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and railroad crossings, gave age-related presentations to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
When the Texas & Pacific Railroad laid tracks from Aubrey through Denton to Fort Worth, Argyle became a town on Nov. 17, 1881. Railroad surveyor and developer James Morrill drew the plat of the town, naming the streets running parallel to the railroad tracks East Front Street, which is now U.S. Highway 377, and West Front Street.
It is presumed that local physician Dr. Daniel McIntyre Stewart, who lived on Long Point farm south of Pilot Knob and whose family was from Argyleshire, Scotland, was instrumental in naming the new town Argyle.
Since the construction of the railroad tracks, there have been numerous train-related accidents in Argyle. In an article in The Dallas Morning News dated Aug. 5, 1894, it gives the details of the death of Argyle’s Section Foreman Ben Price’s 17-year-old daughter, Ida, who was hit by a train while walking near the railroad tracks.
On the morning of May 5, 1995, Tina Minke, 18, was killed at the railroad crossing of Harpole Road and U.S. Highway 377 on her way to school. The train was traveling at 38 mph, and the impact pushed her car 150 yards down the track. The train was not able to stop until it had traveled a distance of 1.25 miles.
“There were a number of contributing factors,” said Tina’s father, Terry Minke. “Since there were no gates or lights to warn her and the right of way around the crossing was overgrown with foliage, Tina did not hear the train or see it coming until she was already on top of the steep gravel-based incline. The tracks were located on a large hump created by erosion that required skillful maneuvering to drive over it, and because of the steep angle, the automobile’s windshield was exposed directly to the morning sun obstructing Tina’s view of the approaching train.
“Donna [Tina’s mother] and I are thankful that Operation Lifesaver has made a concerted effort to inform young drivers and students about safety in and around trains and railroad crossings. What also needs to be stressed are the ‘unimproved’ railroad crossings that have steeply angled gravel roads, large humps going up and over the track and the overgrowth of trees and grasses at railroad crossings that were some of the dangerous conditions Tina encountered.”
In 1983, Argyle resident Floyd Hensley attempted to drive his truck across the tracks at the Old Justin Road crossing and hit a moving train, which knocked his truck, with him in it, into the ditch beside the train tracks. At the time there were not any train-crossing arms. Mr. Hensley did survive his injuries.
With the advancement of faster and quieter trains, the public needs to practice safety precautions and learn how to be safe around them. Ralph Price said AISD plans to have the two-day presentations every other year.
The Argyle Lions Club will meet at noon Tuesday at the Argyle Town Hall Community Room, 308 Denton St.
Argyle Senior Center meets every Wednesday and Friday at the Argyle Town Hall Community Room. Exercise starts at 10 a.m. followed by card games at 11 a.m. For more information, call Stella McDaniel at (940) 464-7438.
Lynn Sheffield Simmons is founder and past president of the North Texas Book Festival Inc. She is the author of 10 children’s books and two history books on Argyle. She can be reached at Lynn@argylebooks.com.