Boyds Mills, ME Train Wreck, Feb 1889



BANGOR, Me., Feb. 23.--The most serious railroad accident that has been known in this State for many years occurred at Boyd's Mills, two miles east of Kingman, this morning. The morning train, leaving this city at 6:45 o'clock for St. John, was derailed at that point, the accident prostrating most of the telegraph wires rendering communication difficult. Enough has been learned, however, to make it certain that it is of a very serious character, involving considerable loss of life and destruction of property.

The train consisted of an engine, baggage, mail, express, and Pullman, and four passenger cars, including a second-class car. The train was under charge of Conductor Chase. A misplaced switch is assigned as the cause of the accident. The engine was wrecked and the cars were piled in confusion upon it. The train was equipped with the Sewall heater, but the debris took fire from the locomotive and was soon in flames. A dispatch from C. H. Hawthorne, American Express messenger on the train, says:

"Serious accident to train. Mail, baggage, Pullman, and second-class cars all burned up. I saved my safe and contents and a portion of the lighter freight. All the heavy freight was burned up, including all of the baggage."

A dispatch from the Western Union office at Kingman says: "The mail train ran on to the siding at Boyd's Mill this morning, striking against some cars with such force as to throw the engine, baggage, mail, and smoking cars from the rails, and they immediately took fire. Henry Goodwin, fireman, of Bangor; William D. Mudgett, mail clerk, of Dexter, and John Campbell, also a mail clerk, of St. John, perished in the wreck. Julius Angell, engineer, and C. Palmer of Bangor, mail clerk, were injured, the former very seriously. The cause of the accident is unknown at present."

The scene at the wreck was a pitiable one. Mail Clerk Mudgett was standing by the stove when the accident occurred. The mail car was piled up on the wrecked engine and all three men were pinned down. Campbell's back was broken. Caleb Palmer said to Mudgett: "How are you, Billy?" "I am all right, Cale," was the answer, "but I'm burning." "Well, I have got to go with you," said Palmer; "good-bye." The the wreckers came and brakemen with axes cut Palmer out. Conductor Chase got hold of Mudgett's hand, but was driven back by the fire. Mudgett said: "I've got to go, Cale." Palmer answered: "I know it, Billy. I would save you if I could. Good[sic} bless you. Good-bye." "Good-bye, Cale." came the answer, and then the fire stopped everything else.

Campbell said good-bye to Palmer, but his back was broken and he spoke nothing further. Goodwin was burned beneath the engine. Angell, the engineer, was badly cut on the ear and head and sustained general bruises. A. McLain, the Coroner here, says the remains cannot be taken away this afternoon. An inquest will be held Monday.

Conductor Chase had his hair singed in trying to save the clerks. Passengers were sent forward by special train.

At a late hour it has been learned that at the place of the accident there was a switch leading to a side track, the latter leaving the main line at a sharp curve. The switch was open, and as the thermometer was 10º below zero the engineer was running with closed window, and this fact, coupled with another fact that a heavy white frost hung over the land, prevented him from seeing the danger. On the curve, a distance of 200 feet, there stood a box car, and into this the train plunged. Just previous to this the train swept down all the telegraph poles which support the Atlantic cable wires and many others, and after striking the car it left the rails, the first four cars piling on to the locomotive, and immediately taking fire.

In all respects the train was a model one and all the men engaged in running it were trustworthy. The place of the accident is remote from any settlement, telegraph service meagre, and as the wires are in the hands of the railroad people all the facts will not be learned until tomorrow.

The New York Times, New York, NY 24 Feb 1889