Freeport, ME Train Wreck, Jun 1871


Six Cars Thrown from the Track---Two Men Killed, Others Injured--- Wonderful Escape. No Passengers Maimed.

About three o'clock Monday afternoon a despatch[sic] was received in this city that the inward bound express train with Pullman car attached on the Maine Central Railroad, had been thrown from the track near Freeport. A wrecking train was promptly made up by Superintendent Bailey at the depot in this city and sent to the scene of the accident. All sorts of conjectures gave rise to startling reports, and as the train was stated to have consisted of nine cars and all heavily loaded, it was feared the casualties were greater than had been told by the railroad officials. Fortunately they were not as large as people naturally inferred, although they were disastrous enough. Upon sifting out the true story we learn that, just before the hour given above and as the train was moving at an ordinary rate of speed, bout a mile and a half before reaching Freeport, the breaking of the forward axle of the tender let it fall to the track, thus tearing up the rails and throwing off at the left the six cars following. As soon as the engineer was warned of this he whistled down breaks[sic] and reversed his engine, the Augusta, but it was not sufficient to prevent the disaster.

The breakmen[sic] were prompt at their posts, but ruin awaited six of the nine cars. The first to go off was the Skowhegan baggage car, which tumbled on its side and buried an end in the sand embankment out at the road side. Next was an Androscoggin passenger car, which was thrown on its side and stove in side, end and trucks. A Knox and Lincoln passenger car following had an end stove in. The Skowhegan car next in line was completely wrecked. The Bangor baggage car followed those preceding it and was laid across the road-bed damaged in end, frame and running gear. The Bangor smoking car was also damaged on the ends, thrown from the rails and laid on the pile. There were three passenger cars, including the Pullman drawing room car, following the above, but were not injured. These were taken to Brunswick after the work of clearing up the wreck was begun.

All was consternation among the passengers and as they crawled from the cars which were overturned they presented a ludicrous appearance, which none could help notice even in the presence of death and suffering. When the baggage car went over there were four persons in it---George West, express messenger, who jumped from the door on the right side, Express Agent Tarbox remained in the car and had his right thumb broken, Mail Agent Bartlett was in his apartment and received slight injury only to his left hand and ear. As the car made its sudden lurch MR. GEORGE CHASE, baggage master, was passing through. He was precipitated out of the left door and fell directly under the car as it tumbled over. His death, of course, was as instantaneous as it was frightful. He was a fine young man and leaves a wife, we learn, in Skowhegan. Augustus Larrabee, brakeman, had his left leg broken, near the ankle. A Mr. Duning, one of the road baggage masters, was completely covered with freight but not injured.

A gentleman looking out of the forward end of the passenger car saw Mr. Albert Barron, brakeman, at his post of duty and still tugging at the brake when the cars locked and tipped over. Fortunately Dr. F. N. Otis of New York City, was on board the train returning with a party of gentlemen from a fishing excursion at the Rangley lakes. His assistance was at once required. It was found that Barron could not be extricated without first having one of his legs removed. There was no surgical instruments at hand except a small pocket case the Doctor had, and it was necessary that the leg be removed at once, as the arteries were severed and the sufferer was bleeding to death. Like a hero Barron insisted that they use a common saw which was there. With this the Doctor performed the operation and the limb was dressed as best it could be. A temporary splint was applied to Larrabee's leg. The bones at the ankle were broken but the flesh was not torn. An old lady was the only person among the many passengers on the train at all injured and she only received a bad sprain in one of her ankles.

It was a fearful shaking up all received and the escape from still more serious results was miraculous.

Conductor Thomas Howard evinced his coolness and efficiency in this his first serious trial. His orders were prompt and effected what was desired.

A train with physicians and railroad men was sent out from Brunswick immediately upon learning of the accident.

Larrabee was brought to this city by the train which went out to the wreck from here and returned at 7 o'clock in the evening. He was taken upon a litter to his home on Salem street and there received medical attendance. It is thought he will not lose his leg. Barron was taken to Brunswick under care of Dr. John D. Lincoln of that town. A dispatch informs us that the injured man died last evening.

Work upon the wreck was pushed with great vigor. The tender was turned aside so that by some digging into the right bank a side track was laid with new rails. Over this the night trains passed with scarce any delay. The scene was a hard one, and one could judge how dreadful it would have been had it not occurred on a comparatively level piece of ground. The rails were bent in curves, trucks were thrown in pieces on all sides, axles bent and others broken, and pieces of cars thrown at least fifty feet from the road-bed.

Weekly Eastern Argus, Portland, ME 29 Jun 1871