The B-25 legend

At approximately 4:10 P.M., on January 31, 1956, a TB-25N trainer ditched in the Monongahela River (locally known as the “Mon”), near Homestead, Pennsylvania, and was lost.  All six of the occupants aboard the aircraft survived the ditching.  Only four, however, survived their encounter with the Mon.  In the fourteen days following the crash a search for the aircraft was conducted, but the B-25 was never found.  Shortly after the aircraft sank into the Mon, a colorful story about the B-25’s mission, its “classified” cargo and covert removal from the river began to circulate in the Mon Valley.  The local story of the B-25, as told by a resident of the Mon Valley, may sound something like this:

"There was a B-25 flying from out west to Washington, D.C. and it ran into engine trouble over Butler, Pennsylvania.  The plane attempted to get to Allegheny County Airport, but the engines quit over Homestead and the plane ditched in the river near Mesta Machine Company.  Right after the aircraft ditch, hundreds of soldiers were seen along the river looking for the bomber.  The soldiers closed off the river bank, on both sides of the Mon, from Homestead to Beck’s Run Road.  They found the plane later that night and pulled it out at Duck Hollow.  After they pulled it out, the bomber was cut it up and shipped somewhere.  By morning the plane was gone.   The bomber was probably carrying something important on it - perhaps an atomic bomb."

Variations on the story line exist depending on who’s telling it.  Most common modifications to the story include, but are not limited to; changes in departure point, destination, numbers of soldiers involved in the search, extraction point, color of the aircraft, length of time it took to cut the plane up and the cargo.  Cargo variations are perhaps the most interesting and usually cover; nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, Mafia money and Howard Hughes.  Modifications to the story also include an elusive seventh passenger and FBI agents who suddenly appear on the scene.  In any case, the story makes for interesting listening, good speculation and can be heard in any one of Homestead's small bars for the price of a beer.