Tehachapi, CA Terrible Railroad Accident, Jan 1883
THE RAILROAD DISASTER
LATER ACCOUNTS OF THE CALIFORNIA RAILWAY WRECK.
The Air-Brakes Taken Off and The Brakemen Away From Their Posts -- Twenty-One Lives Lost.
San Francisco, Jan. 21 -- A dispatch from Tehichipa [sic] concerning the accident to the southern express train near there yesterday confirms the death of MRS. DOWNEY and says ex-Gov. DOWNEY is badly hurt, but will recover. Only a few passengers left here on the train. A dispatch from Los Angeles says: "It is now ascertained that at the time when the train broke loose and ran down the grade the air-brakes had been taken off and the men who tended the hand-brakes were away from their posts, one attending to switching the engine and the other relighting his extinguished lamp. The train gathered headway quickly, and was soon dashing down the grade at the rate of a mile a minute. At a sharp curve of the road the coach and smoker, which were ahead, broke the coupling and separated from the rest of the train, making the turn safely. The sleepers and the mail, express, and baggage cars were dashed against a high bank and then thrown back, rolling down an embankment. The lamps and stoves at once set fire to the wreck, which was instantly in a blaze. HARRY CONNORS, news agent, who was sleeping in the baggage car, was awakened by the movement of the car and aroused JAMES WOODHULL, baggage-master, just as the cars made the jump. The roof of the car was split open and both men were thrown out and severely bruised. CONNORS, while lying on the ground unable to render any assistance, saw the train enveloped in flames and heard the shrieks of dying victims, and saw them vainly endeavoring to struggle from the burning ruins. PORTER ASHE and wife, who occupied a drawing room of one of the sleepers, were awakened by the crash. They succeeded in getting out without injury, but of 16 other occupants of the car not one is believed to have escaped. In the meantime, the occupants of the coach which kept on the down grade succeeded in stopping it, thereby saving the lives of about 40 occupants of that and the smoking car. They immediately walked back to the scene of the accident, but found only the smoldering remains of the train and the few who had escaped with their lives lying bruised and bleeding in the darkness, shivering in the piercing cold night air, or rendering assistance to each other. Relief soon arrived from Tehachipa, four miles distant, and as soon as possible medical attendance was sent from Sumner and Bakersfield, and subsequently from Los Angeles.
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