Bellows Falls, VT Train Wreck, Apr 1888



BELLOWS FALLS, Vt., April 7.---The night express train on the Vermont Central Railroad which left Boston at 7 o'clock last night was wrecked about 10:40 o'clock by a washout near Rockingham, five miles north of this place. The engineer, Moses Pratt, of Rutland, and the fireman, John Pratt, of Rutland, were instantly killed, and several persons injured. The train reached this station at 10:30 o'clock. At this point it was taken in charge by Conductor Whitney. The train consisted of the engine and tender, one baggage and express car, a first-class passenger coach and a Wagner car with passengers for Ottawa. About a quarter of a mile north of Rockingham there is a long embankment about 100 feet high. Just as the train started over this embankment the left side of the single track gave way and the engine left the roadway and toppled down the embankment nearly into the Williams River, followed by the baggage car, which in its descent turned a somersault over the engine. The passenger car, which contained 12 passengers, followed suit and landed on end half way down the embankment. Wonderful to relate, the Wagner car, which was well filled with passengers, kept on top of the embankment, although the forward track left the rail.

News of the accident was sent to Bellows Falls by means of a hand car, Conductor Whitney going with a section hand for assistance. At Cavendish Station the train bound south from Ottawa was waiting for the north-bound train. As the latter did not put in appearance after a delay of 40 minutes past the regular time of arrival, the conductor of the south-bound train routed up the telegraph operator at his boarding house, and, going back to the station, telegraphed to Bellows Falls, and learned of the disaster. The south-bound train immediately proceeded to the scene of the accident. The sight when the wreck was reached was appalling. The baggage and express car was on fire, and the flames lighted up the scene in a weird and awful manner. The roar of rushing waters passing through a culvert beyond were distinctly heard. On the side of the embankment where the train was lying the railway employes[sic] were seen searching for the dead and wounded. It was ascertained that none of the passengers in the passenger car, which was standing on end, were seriously injured. Engineer Pratt was found dead near his engine, his head having seen completely removed. His body was placed in the baggage car of a relief train, which had arrived from Bellows Falls, coffined there, and forwarded to their house. Dr. Guildford, one of those on the Wagner car, rendered efficient service, and after examination of the passengers, announced that none were seriously hurt.

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