Boston, MA Terrible Train Wreck At Bussey Bridge, Mar 1887

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The three cars immediately following the engine had safely crossed the bridge, but had been thrown from the track. Engineer WHITE at once disconnected his engine, and, putting on all steam possible, ran down towards Forest Hills station. J. W. SHANNON was driving up from Forest Hills toward the scene of the disaster when the engine came down the track, whistling wildly. The locomotive slowed down at the Forest Hills crossing, and SHANNON stopped his team, shouting to the engineer, "What's the matter!" "My train has gone through Tin bridge. Telegraph to Boston," was the reply. SHANNON went to the station with the message, which was quickly flashed over the wires. Then he hastened back to his team and drove up to the wreck, being the first outsider to reach the spot. Arriving at Forest Hills, the engineer at once rang in a fire alarm, which summoned to the scene the fire department of Roslindale, with a steamer and hook and ladder truck from Jamaica Plain.
Having thoroughly aroused the surrounding communities and telegraphed the fact of the disaster to the officials in Boston, Engineer WHITE remounted his engine and ran her back to the wreck, where crowds were already gathering. The first three cars, numbered 52, 18 and 28, stood derailed as he had left them. The next car, which was so completely smashed that its number could not be made out, went to pieces in the most extraordinary and inexplicable way. Its roof went over; the body of it went down the abyss, forty feet deep, and was hurled with such force against the masonry of the abutment that it was smashed into fragments. It was in this car, which bore the brunt of the shock, that the greatest number of casualties took place. The next car, No. 80, also dashed against the abutment, passing partially underneath and partially through the car in advance of it. The shock left it very badly smashed, but enough of it was there to reveal the old fashioned cast iron stove standing bolt upright, untouched and intact. Here, as elsewhere in the train, there were traces left of the dreadful word of the collision in splashes of blood left upon the seats and sides. Still another car, whose number was undistinguishable, followed this, and directly behind this car came No. 81, another old fashioned one, which escaped with less damage than any other that went through the bridge, a broken central truss of the structure serving the purpose of pinning it in an upright position. Then came car No. 82, which the crash left upon its side, thoroughly smashed, and at the end the smoking car, which, by a most extraordinary wrench, was turned exactly bottom side up and left lying upon its roof. In the roadway under the bridge, then in the space of 150 feet between abutment and abutment, there were in an instant piled up the debris of six cars, interwoven almost inextricably with the trusses and girders of the iron bridge, and within and among which the passengers were held fast, or writhing in distress, some of them crushed almost beyond the recognition of the human shape, and one or two of them beheaded.
To such as had power to move the means of extrication were made the easier by the completeness of the wreck, for the sides and ends of the cars were often smashed out, leaving more or less free egress. But in the two cars which struck the abutment the scene was fearful. The wooden debris was piled up about one of the stoves and was on the very point of setting the wreck on fire when the earliest arrivals at the scene and those who had already succeeded in extricating themselves unhurt managed to drag the stove out through the broken walls of the car and deposit it upon the roadway.

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Bussey Bridge

My gg grandfather was also in the accident. There are a couple of interviews with him while still on the scene. He was injured but was fortunate to be in one of the back cars and found a way out. I would love to share what I have and see what info you have compiled as well!

-Bonnie Richardson

Waldo Lailer

Mr. Harlow
I am currently researching the Bussey Bridge accident for a future publication and am interested in any information you might have on Waldo Lailer. I would be more than happy to provide you with the information i have already obtained on him.
Any information you would be willing to give me would be greatly appreciated.
Jeremy Fraine

My Gr. Grandfather died in the wreck

Thank you for the newspaper coverage of the Bussey Bridge Train Wreck. My Grandmother's father Waldo Booth Lailer, a policeman at the time, evidently on his way to work, died in the wreck. I have a picture taken at the scene which has been handed down in the family it is about an 8x10 and mounted on a card. My Grandmother, Harriet Louisa Lailer and her brother William Fessenden Lailer (Uncle Bill) were young children at the time and I have a picture of them together as well. Waldo was from Maine, and he and some brothers, Orlando Lailer was one, moved to the Boston area to join the police department.
David Wood Harlow
Wagoner, Oklahoma