Greenfield, MA Train Wreck Apr 1886


An Express Train Plunges Down an Almost Perpendicular Precipice.

Only Three Persons on Board Known to Have Escaped Injury.

The Coaches Take Fire and the Wounded Passengers are Burned to Death – The Disaster Caused by the Sinking of the Track – A Partial List of the Injured.

GREENFIELD, Mass., April 7. -- A terrible disaster occurred on the Fitchburg railroad to-night, midway between Bardwell's ferry and West Deerfield station, the east bound passenger train, due at Greenfield at 6:05 P. M., going over an embankment 200 feet high. Six bodies have already been taken out of the ruins and it is not known how many others were killed. The train was the eastern express, and consisted of a baggage car, smoker, sleeping car, mail car and two ordinary passenger cars. The train was in charge of Conductor FORSTER, with HERBET LITTLEJOHN as engineer. The point where the accident occurred is the most dangerous on the road. Trains run on the edge of an embankment 200 feet above the Deerfield river. The bank is steep and covered with huge bouilders[sic] and masses of rock.

When the train arrived at this point the track commenced to settle under it for a distance covering its entire length. The coaches broke from their trucks and went rolling over and over down the precipice. The engine broke from the tender, tearing up the track for twenty feet. Below rolled the Deerfield river, on the very edge of which the cars were thrown. As soon as they struck they caught fire from the stoves. The sleeping car was an entire wreck. It was occupied by seven passengers, not one of whom at this hour is known to have escaped injury. One man whose name is unknown is imprisoned in the wreck of the sleeper, where he is being buried alive. One little girl was picked up dead.

As soon as the news reached Deerfield a special train was made up and sent to the scene of the disaster, having on board several physicians, section men and a few citizens. On arriving at the scene of the wreck a horrible sight was witnessed. Darkness had settled over the spot. Far down on the river bank could be seen the smouldering embers of the holocaust. It was impossible to tell who was hurt and who was killed. Stout-hearted trackmen were lowered cautiously down the treacherous height and the rescue began.

MERRITT SEELY, superintendent of the National express, of Boston was found in the wreck and taken into the relief car. He had a wound four inches long and half an inch wide over the left temple. His left thigh was broken and also his left leg at the knee. Besides which he sustained internal injuries from which he will die.

D. CRANDALL, postal clerk, was plunged into the river and get ashore with difficulty. He was wounded about the head and his arm was fractured.

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