Canaan, NH Train Wreck, Sept 1907
To Be Made By Railroad Officials of Terrible Disaster.
Canaan, N. H., Sept. 16.--An investigation of the terrible disaster of yesterday by which more than a score of people lost their lives and a greater number received injuries by a collision of a freight and express train on the Boston & Maine Railroad, will be begun here today, probably under the direction of M. D. Cobleigh of Lebanon, the county solicitor. Until his inquiry and the railroad company’s own investigation is completed, the actual responsibility for the accident will remain in doubt. According to a statement issued by the railroad officials, a blunder in handling train orders was clearly the cause, but the identity of the employe responsible for the error remains to be determined.
County Solicitor Cobleigh said early today that he will take immediately such action as is required of him as an official under the laws of New Hampshire.
Meanwhile the bodies of the victims will be turned over to relatives who claim them. At the rooms of the undertaking firm in Concord, where most of the dead were removed immediately after the accident, 22 bodies were laid out in long rows early today. Of these 14 were considered as positively identified by relatives, while the identity of several others was believed to be sufficiently known.
Of the injured who were removed to the Mary Hitchcock hospital in Hanover, one died during the night and another, an unidentified girl, was believed to be fatally hurt.
The others injured are expected to recover according to a report received from the hospital early today.
Canaan people were early astir this morning and the place of the wreck was viewed by hundreds of visitors. A thick mist, just such a one as prevailed Sunday morning when the two trains rushed to their head-on collisions, hung over the valley of the little Indian river and added gloom to the scene. The tangled masses of metal and wood which bordered the track were visible evidences of the disaster.
The wrecking crew, having cleared the track late yesterday afternoon, after it had been blocked for about 12 hours, abandoned further work when darkness set in. When work was resumed this morning it was not thought probable that any bodies would remain, so thorough was yesterday’s overhauling of the wreckage.
On one side of the embankment lay the two big engines, head to head in an almost demoralized condition. It seemed a strange thing that in such a terrific impact no explosion had occurred and no fire started. As many of the wrecked cars had been filled with grain and paper stock, the fire, if one had started would have cut off all attempts to rescue the injured.
Station Agent Greeley of Canaan station, through, whose hands passed the fatal orders for the freight train to proceed on the passenger train’s time, was not at his post as usual this morning, the officials having temporally removed him. Greeley was known to almost everyone in town and was regarded highly here as a capable agent and operator, positions which he had held with the railroad company for a period covering more than 20 years.
Yesterday’s crowd in Canaan was a big one and coming so unexpectedly, it completely overwhelmed the hotel accommodations of the town. At the two public houses here at 6 o’clock last night it was declared that not a bite to eat was obtainable, although neighbors had been called in and done extra cooking.
During the night not a few people could be met on the roads leading from the wreck with big rolls of glazed white paper on their shoulders, which they had found among the wrecked freight cars. Other persons also helped themselves to portions of the tons of grain, mostly corn, which was strewn about the tracks. No effort was made to guard the wreckage through the night.