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A Railroad Horror

A Railroad Horror image
Parent Issue
Day
17
Month
August
Year
1887
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Of all tlie horrible railroad catastrophies that ever happened in the United States, the one of last Wednesday uight, at Chatsworth, III., on the line of the " Toledo, Peoria and Western Rond,"' in which an excursión train hearing 9G0 ]eople in 1G cars, is undoubtedly the worst. The train was bound for Niágara fiills, and had been mnde up along the litie of the road. The accident was causedby the burning of a bridge over a dry run. Six of sixteen curs werc telegcoped, over 120 passengers instanlly killed, aud niany more eeriously injured. The following account of one of the excursionista frfVM an idea of the horrible aft'air : ' 1 was in the second sleeper and we were goiii}; aloiiL about midnight when ture carne a peculiar jostling. I thoufrht ttiat we Iia.il been derailed. Our porter said : ' We are all riglit,' wheu turne onc Piiiil : ' There ia a lire aliead.' I got up ud went to the front. Tin: heail enghu bal rushed on. Tlie gecoud engine liai tiunbled into the clm-m It hiid telescoped and the eiiglnoer was n sliipeless inass The lirst car was turned to ilght angles witli track and tlie rcmaining cai'8 telescopec! and piled up in one hep Several ol us Cllmbed upon tlie cara witl axes aud lanterns and went to work. The lirst iiiüii wlio wiis found wus Billy ote vens, tlie coufectioner. He was dead We pulled uiin out ifter soine eflort, am tlien pulled histwodau;hters, Einiua am Ida, OUt. They, too, were dead. Kvery one wag jfroaninjí and crying. 'l'hei feet Beetned to be jamined. Most of tiu-u liad their legs broken. Alter an bou and a half wti cleaied tlie car. The; were offering $50 each for reléase. Prob ably there wiks a doen bodies taken out tfrs. Deal was one of these. I then went down on the ground and assisted in aking l li o dead down. Thcre were in Ira. Jumes üeal's party, live people, herelf, Mrs. Wm. Allen, Miss Ada Webter, Mrs. Wm. Buil, .1 run ie O'Shaughneesy. Kvery one of tliem was killed but he last, and were horribly diefigured. It was late In the afternoon before they were recognized. Odc of the horrible uciilent wa? a man well dressed, who was so badly injured that his bowels were rotniding. He cal led incessantly for vater, and as he could not be attended to ie finally pulled out his revolver and shot mn-rlt through the head. One little oy, the son of the Methodist minister at Abington, Frank Suudecker, about 12 'ears of age, was found on the bosora of lis dend mother. His left leg hung by lm skin. His rtffht arm was broken, aiul one eye was put out. He never uttered a groan. They pulled hlm out and tried to ;ive liini a drink of brandy. He refused 0 take it. and said: ' Give me water.' I ound a hend huuging trom the truck. It vas appurently that of a man, and had leen caujcht by ttie hair. I found feveral iradless bodies. Those who recognized be dead lminediately tlcketed them." The Chicago Times correspondent gives Iris account of the terrible aftair : About live o'clock one of the Chicago rimes' st.ill" was driven out to the wreek. The drive way led along to the left of the railroail and to the soutli of the rond was in old-fashioned osage orange hedge. Phe roaii was very muddy and full of chuekhole8. A stream of humanity was louriug in f rom the wreek. Some had ilieckt in their bats and cttrried valise. l'hey were evidently passengers on the 11-laied train. Country boys and girls camo along swinging hands and talking D low tones about the terrible disaster. A photographerdragged his weary limbs ilong llie track. He was carrying a camera and a lot of negatives. The road lrd vas almost level, just a little grade runilng up to the wreek at a ralse of ten or ifteen feet to the mile. About two and me-lialf or thiee miles f rom the town on 1 lillle raise, was the debris of the wreek. I'Ié tleepllig car Tunis was at the end of the train. It was jacked ia the air, snptorted by the trestles. The front end of he car was directly over the place where he tiriilge stood. To the Hght lay a coach all broken into kindling wood, and direct ly on the road was piled up wliat was lelt of six or seven coaches, turned Imtt.mi side up and broken beyond recognition. Across the track, in front of the ile of debris, was a coach, lying crosswic, away up at least ten feet in the air; lieyond wure the two tenders and one enlne; one tender was t the left of the irack and the other to the right. They were turned boltom-side up and rent asunder. The ungine was scareely recogniz:ible. On the side of the cab was the lll-etarred number - 13. Only a big pane of glass marked thirteen. Along the liedge there were valises, shoes, boots, liats, all nu D nel of articles of wearing apparel, broken lanterns and seaU from r:iis. It was in awful sight, hats of men and woinen broken and emeared wilh blooJ, coats reeking with gore, and ladies' underwear smeared witli life-blood. It was plain to be sren from the looks of the baggage tliat the traveleis were wellto-do people. ANOTHER ACCOUNT. Three miles eiet of Chatsworth the track crosses a run ten feet deep, which is dry at this time of the year. The bridge was simple trestle work, only tifteeu fuet long. As the train rushed along at the rate of a mile a minute, the engineer of the front engiue saw that this bridge was on tire. The train was almost on the bridge when he saw the tire. There was no time to stop. The only chance was to pull the train across. In amoiig the flamea he darted and carne through s ifely. ia an instant he tilt a aliuht jerk. The tender had been caught. Then carne a crash. The secoud engiue and three haggage cars piled themselves on the tirst tender, tilling up the run. In that tirst crash more than 100 people met in.-l:int death. üf the sixty persons in the first coach not ooe cuino out alive. From the second coach but fourescaped. In the other four coachen deaths alteruated with broken limbs and eriislied bodies. In the sleepers no one was injured. Anioug the burning cars were men, wouien and children who had been njured to helplessness, but whose lives oould be saved if they could be got out from the wreek before the flame reached them. llow those fifty rescuers worked I There was not so inucli as a drop of water to put out the Ure. There were not even shovels to dig the dirt to smother the flame8. So they put their hands to the work and in dei-peration clutched the dry ground and cast It upon the embers. Hour after liour they toiled on until at last the lires had been conquered. At Peoria an unknown man with his wife and child got on the train. In the overturning the three got piuneddown by the brokeu woodwork. "Take my wife out flrst," he said to the rescuers, " I'm afraid my child dead." As the woman was raiscd from her place of torture a stream of a dark blood came from her mouth. She was taken to a corntield near by and laid tenderly on the ground, and her blue-eyed and fairhaired child of two years was laid beside },er - dead. The man was taken out. IJoth his legs were broken, but they showed him where his wife was and he dragged hiraself to lier side. Lovingly he passed his hands over the faces of his loved ones, and taking his flask from his pocket he forced Bome brandy between his wife's lips. She groaned with paiH and feil back dead. Tlie man, when he reallzed tliat bis wife liad followed his child, cried out: " My üod, my Ood, wliat is there now to live for!" Then pulling a pistol from his pocket he sent a bullet through his brain. On an upper floor a handsome woman, about twenty years of age, stylishly dressed, lay extended on a couch She was MissHattie Hrenner, of Fariuington, 111.. and was on her way to Niágara Falla with several of lier relatives. In the party was a young man named VValters. alfo Of Farniington, and to whom she was engaged to be inarncd. He had been badly injured, and lay near her on a bed, attendrd by a eouple of surgeons. While lis Hrenner was physlcally unhurt by tlio wreek, yet the fright and knowledge of hW lovers injuries has rendered her in sane. In the depot at Chatsworth and in the unocciipir.il store used as a morgue the scène was suggestivo of a slaughterhouse. Stretched out on the fioors were the corpses of men, womeu and chlldrcr dressed in the clothing ia which they had met their death. In the enipty store in a room twenty fcet wkle and forty feet long were counted thlrty-seven corpsen at one time. The face of a young wonian who was lying on the Hoor of the depot, had "¦ni so beaten in by the timbera that reognition was out of the question, and her rains and the flesh of lier face were a uilpy mass in which dabblcd her long ed hair. She was not identitied. A nan with a heavy dark moustache, apparently about thirty-five yeara of age, liad een struck in the face by some substance which had torn away his jaw and the side of his face, leavinjc his throat and lower art of his face exposed. A flve-year old oy, with a chubby face and curly liair, ooked contented and smiling. Hls legs were not lone broken but the flesh was 8O mangled thnt it bore the appearance of raw beef. llia chest was crushed in and lila body covcred with bruises. fearly every corpse was mangled or disigured. The faces of some ot the dead were as black as tliough they died of sufócation, while others were deathly vhite. The news of the disaster arrived herc about forty minutes after its occurreucc. The refidentsof the town were awukened tv an alarm rung simultaneously trom all the boxes in the town. In a few moments the people were running through he streets f rom all direetions, all inquirup- where the lire was. Wheu the facts were learned another alarm followed, which was soon vigorously re-echoed by he bells of all the churches in town. The people made a rush for the road to Piper City. Dr. Vaughn, of ChatsworUi, says: " When I arrived I found there the greatest confusión. Heil itself conld not )resent a more horrible picture - men and wonien fighting with dealh and ri-ady to clutch at a straw to gel mivci!. One man held his dead wife and a dead Itttle hild on his arms while his own hel were .roken and held In the wreek. I relieved he unfortunate man of his buiden and lelped to drag hiin to a sleeper. A HORRIBLE Sl'SIMCION. CiiatswOrth, Aug. 12.- Sensatioiial features were developed this luornlng a9 o the cause of the wreek. Kuinors ui re afloat last night tliat it was due to robbers who iired the bridge, but little credeuce was jfiven thein. This ïnoniiiijr new facts, apparently showing the catasrophe to be the work of ui organizad jand.came to light and the company lind them worthy of serious nvestigation. ïkipt. Arni8trong said to the associated iress reporter tliat the more he investijated the more it appearcd to hiin that he bridge had been set on lire. The [jurned grass in its Inmediata locality was not of a nature that scenied likely to admit of the bridge catcbing from t. He had observed many thieves at work, and had ïtopped them while despoiling the wreek of property and money. In etances Of the robbing"of the dead were being brought to his attention. The excursión had been extensively advertised, and the time it would pass over the Ijridge was well known. Citizens say that a gang of Misploioua fellows have been loitering aruuml Chatiworth for some days. Many of these were found early at the wreek, rmying more attention to relieving the bodies of their valuables than to caring for them otherwise. Train men and passengere had frequent contentions with the vándala. In one instance Stipt. Armstrong found a well known thiet in the depot room where the property taken from the wreek was stored. While people of the town have done all in their power for the sufferers, there is a horde of tramps and thieves in this vicinlty who do notliing but carry off anything they can get their hands on. Chris. Eunis, roadmaster of the división said this moruing in his testimony before the coroui-r's jury: " My opinión is that the bridge was set on lire by somebody. My train was the last train over before the special and If there was üre there, the men would have discovered it. The bridge could have been burned in two or three hours. About three years ago two atfemptl were made to dltob the 10 o'clock passenger train at that bridge and we kept a watchman there for six weeks; obstructions were piled on the truck. It is a very louesome place, far from any bouse." STHANQE CONDUCT OP R. K. OFFICIALS. Chatbwoktii, Aug. 12.- President E. F. L,eonard, of the Toledo, Peoria & Western company, said that he had made a careful but necessarily brief investigation of the accident, and could In no way account for it, unless on the pretumptíon that the bridge was set on fire delibérate]}by fiends for the purpose of wrecking the train and robhing passengers. AVhen the dead body of Edwin Y. Adanis was searched, neither his poeketuook nor gold watch could be found, although he was known to have started on the trip with a large sum of money. The ouly cash found on his person was $30, which he had hid in the watchpocket of his trousers. There were very little stimulants or, In fact, medical appliances or assistance of any kind on the ground. A man from Piper City brought a deinijohn of whisky but the railroad people seem to have done practically nothing. Men from Cnatsworth who worked all night at the wreek were refused passage on the train going back to the vlllage and had to tramp home in a half-fainting Ciindition. It seemed to take the railroad four hours to get an engine ready to drag a car to or from the village, and the only persons allowed to ride were railroad officials. The people say that the officials aoted most inhumanly in many caaes ap.d treated the wounded most shamefully all around. It is probable that an investigation will re9ult in holding somo of the oiticial criminally responsible for the disaster. The fact that lires were raging all around there was known to everybody; that the dry prairie ifrass grew right up to tbe line was, or should have been known to the officials; and the fact that the wooden trestle work across the culvert was burned by the sun until it was an inllammable as lindor wood was also known or should have been. If ordinary piccautions had been observed the accident would not have occurred. Tlic bridge may have been burning at least tvvo hours bofore the train arrived.

Article

Subjects
Ann Arbor Courier
Old News