Milford, CT Trains In Rear End Collision, Feb 1916
Block Signal Disregarded?
Some hours after the accident the block signals were found set to stop any train that might be approaching behind the express, but if they were so set as they should have been when the local ran toward the express, the engineer of the local must have failed to obey them.
Officials of the New Haven road, C. C. ELWELL of the Connecticut public utilities commission and J. S. HAWLEY, inspector of the interstate commerce commission, held an inquiry in the New Haven office building, and one of the points they investigated was whether the signals had been set against the local. They also sought to learn just how many cars in the passenger trains were of wood and how many of steel.
The dispute is over the last car of the express, in which many persons were killed and injured. Officials of the railroad said that it was of steel but many of those who visited the scene of the accident said it was wooden.
Flagman Is Killed.
The express train wrecked was No. 79, known as the Connecticut River special, and ran from points on the Boston and Maine, entering the New Haven tracks at Springfield, Mass. The train was made up of an engine, a combination car, three coaches and three Pullman cars. If left New Haven on schedule time and had run as far as Indian River when the airbrake hose broke between the locomotive and the head car.
The train was stopped and brakemen began to repair the hose. When the train stopped G. L. TOURTELETTE, the flagman, started running back up the track to signal the local train 5, from Boston, which left New Haven ten minutes behind the express. It was crowded with pleasure seekers going to Bridgeport and New York for Washington's birthday.
Slightly more than 600 feet behind the express train was a slight curve in the track, and as TOURTELETTE was about to enter this curve, running from the west, the local train shot around it from the east.
According to the position in which his body was found and its condition, the authorities agreed that he was struck by the locomotive of the local train and instantly killed.
The flagman dead, the local train rushed on, driven by W. R. CURTIS, its engineer, and EDWARD McGUINESS, fireman. By the time the train had rounded the curve so that CURTIS could see the express train it was too late for him to avoid the collision.
Boiler Blown Fifty Feet.
The speed of the local at the time has been estimated at forty miles an hour. Its momentum must have been great, for when the engine crashed into a Pullman car of the express both bodies rose from the tracks and then bulged outward against the freight train passing at the moment.
The freight was wrecked, but before it was stopped the cars of the passenger trains were dragged, overturned and telescoped until most of them were crushed into a mighty mass of splintered wood and twisted iron. The force of the collision caused the boiler of the locomotive on the local train to explode, and scalding water and steam were scattered in every direction. The boiler was torn from the base of the engine, and hurled fifty feet into the air. Its great bulk sailed over the cars of the freight train, across the two tracks on the other side of it and landed fully 100 feet from the wreck.
Potsdam Herald Recorder New York 1916-02-23