North Adams, MA Hoosac Tunnel Train Wreck, Feb 1912

Hoosac Tunnel East Portal


Four Trainmen Killed.

North Adams, Mass.--Four trainmen were killed and Hoosac tunnel was choked with burning debris as the result of the collision of an eastbound Boston and Maine express train and a string of freight cars.

The list of dead as made public by railroad officials, follows;
DAVIS, LUTHER, Greenfield, apprentice on electric engine.
GREGG, HENRY, Scotia, N. Y., assistant engineer.
KEMP, REUBEN, 31, North Adams, flagman attached to freight train.
SIMONDS, ARCHIBALD L., 50, Williamstown, engineer of the electric locomotive on passenger train.

Many of the occupants of the coaches were badly shaken up, but there were no serious injures.

With the exception of the electric locomotive the passenger train was not damaged, but fifteen freight cars were burned in the tunnel and the feat has caused large rocks to fall from the roof.

About 4:30 in the afternoon a watchman at the eastern portal of the tunnel noticed smoke pouring out and realized a train was afire. He went into the tunnel to investigate, but was only able to penetrate far enough to see that there had been a collision. The watchman notified railroad officials and the local fire department sent Chief MONTGOMERY with forty men. They were taken on flat cars into the tunnel, but the smoke and heat were so intense that they were unable to get near the wreck.

The freight train consisting of thirty-two cars, for some reason yet to be learned came to a standstill in the tunnel. Brakeman KENT was ordered back with a red lantern, Engineer SIMONDS of the passenger train saw KENT'S danger signal and slowed down to let KEMP jump aboard the electric locomotive. The passenger train was proceeding slowly ahead, apparently under control, when from some unknown cause the electric locomotive gathered headway and crashed into the freight. There was a brilliant display of electric fireworks and the wreckage was ignited.

The engineer of the regular engine on the express train saw that the only hope of saving his passengers from death by suffocation was to get away from the spot at once, and he immediately started to back away. It was not until nearly 7 o'clock that the train finally emerged into the open air, having been held up west of the main airshaft awaiting orders.

The accident happened about 2,500 feet from the portal of the tunnel.
Shortly before midnight a gang of wreckers went into the tunnel and attempted to reach the burning debris. They had got to within about three hundred feet when a car of oil burst into flames. There were a number of heavy explosions, and smoke, denser than ever, spread through the tunnel. The wrecking crew was barely able to escape. No further attempt was made to get into the tunnel until the fire had burned itself out.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1912-02-23