Blackstone Junction, RI Train Wreck, Oct 1895

IT RAN INTO AN OPEN SWITCH

A Fast Freight Train Wrecked and Two of Its Crew and Two Valuable Horses Killed by the Accident.

WOONSOCKET, R. I., Oct. 5.---South-bound train No. 1,657, the New-York boat freight, the fasted freight on the Worcester Division of the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Road, ran through an open switch at Blackstone Junction, at the State boundary, this afternoon, and ran into a turn-table pit, wrecking the engine, nine loaded cars, and the turn table. The dead are:

FAY, EDWARD, head brakeman, Providence, R. I.
LAWTON, CHESTER R., engineer, Providence, R. I.

The injured are:

HOLDEN, ALBERT, fireman; head cut; not seriously hurt.
MONROE, GEORGE L. of Providence; scalded by steam; all flesh above the waist roasted and in shreds; also inhaled steam; small chance of living; taken to Woonsocket Hospital.
MONTELL, J. H., hostler, of Pawtucket; bruises.

Others on the train, Conductor John Murphy and Brakemen W. F. Byxbee and McDonald, were uninjured. Byxbee found himself on top of the wreckage, and the others were on that part of the train which did not enter the pit. There was an open switch directly in front of the passenger station on a curve, and there were cars on the next track, so the engineer could not see the switch target until directly on it. This switch, when open, would ordinarily set a signal a mile up the road, but the electric signals on the road were temporarily out of service owing to work incident to the change from the left-hand track running to the right hand. The engineer whistled for brakes when he saw the switch, but the train was running thirty or more miles an hour, and could not be stopped. The train ran 500 feet around curves and through two more switches that had been left open, to the table, and then the engine and nine of the eighteen cars in the train piled into the pit, which is six feet deep and sixty feet across.

The engine was badly damaged and the cars were reduced to splinters. The front car contained three trotting horses from the Portland (Me.) Rigby Park meeting, owned by F. C. Staples of Pawtucket, R. I. Montell's escape was miraculous. He was in the car with the horses, and the first he knew of the accident a horse pinned him against the side of the car, and the car stopped, showing a great hole in front of him, through which he stepped to the ground, little injured. One horse followed him, the other two being killed.

Lawton was pinned in the cab, and burned to a crisp. He was one of the oldest engineers on the division, he and all the crew being picked men, selected for this fast train. Lawton was married. Fay leaves a wife and two children.

Monroe had been on the road forty years, and leaves a wife and children. Fay was deep under the debris, and several hours' work were necessary to recover the body. The Fire Department put a stream on the wreckage to extinguish the fire from the engine firebox. The eight cars following the car of horses were loaded with miscellaneous merchandise for the New-York boat.

The New York Times, New York, NY 6 Oct 1895