Wasatch, CA Train Collision, Oct 1869
Gathering Of The Pieces.
The wrecked cars were fastened together with chains and run slowly down to Wasatch. The disaster had been telegraphed to the division superintendent at that point, who at once communicated with the train from California, eastward bound, and found that there were two or three surgeons onboard. These dressed the wounds of the passengers, and three hours afterwards were forwarded on to attend to the sufferings of those on board the emigrant train. The conduct of the superintendent, in not sooner sending forward this relief, is also severely critisized. He himself stated in excuse that he was expecting back the locomotive which had been first sent to the relief of the wrecked train. After waiting three hours without its coming to hand he forwarded the surgeons by another locomotive.
We have mentioned the gentlemen who discerned the approaching train, and cried to the others to "jump." He was talking to the unfortunate MR. TUSTIN at the oment, and, with regard to the accident, MR. TUSTIN had said, in a jocular vein, that he might have "got even" on the life insurance companies, for he was insured for $12,000; the gentleman replied that MR. TUSTIN had "gone one better" than himself, for he was insured for $14,000; at the same breath he looked back and saw the emigrant locomotive.
It appears also that the engineer of the latter bears a reputation much like that which "Hank Monk" used to enjoy in the days of pioneer coaches and Kingsbury grade. He is accounted a reckless and daring fellow, and his conduct in the present instance is such as we might expect from such a one. He says that he saw the signal and whistled; this should have been a mile or less from the point of collision. The passengers on the forward train heard no whistle. Had he whistled within that distance they ought to have heard it. Knowing that he was close to their heels they must inevitably have kept one ear open in that idrection; and finally conceiving that he may have whistled once, he confesses that his "boys" did not put on the brakes, whereupon it is clear that any but a reckless engineer would have kept on whistling until they did, and finally would, and ought to have, reversed his engine when he found that from any cause they did not.
A Verdict of Culpability.
But if the story told by the man on the road and at Wasatch be true -- that the switch was reported out of order three days before the accident and that no effort was made to repair it --
then the responsibility of the whole occurrence clearly rests with the division superintendent. There is no excuse for any accident resulting from a defect of which the company has been notified, and which they know is likely to produce such lamentable consequences as those which we have now recorded.
New York Herald New York 1869-11-09