Montezuma, NY Train Wreck, Aug 1891

A Fearful Railroad Wreck

SYRACUSE, N. Y., Aug. 6. -- This morning a freight train on the West Shore railroad, going west, broke it two between Port Byron and Montezuma and fast train No. 3 dashed into the rear. The brakeman went back toward the passenger train, but the night was so foggy that he was not seen. The fireman of the passenger train was killed, and 20 or 40 others in the same car injured. The sleeping cars burned and it is supposed that nearly all the passengers were rescued. The injured were brought to Syracuse and are being cared for. The bodies of the killed have been brought here for identification. Among the injured is a member of an opera company who died on his way here.

The scene of the accident is four miles from Port Byron and two from Montezuma station. The trainmen say more killed are in the wreck. Dense fog prevailed over the Montezuma marshes and enveloped the trains and tracks. Physicians and other aid was sent from Syracuse, Auburn, Montezuma and Port Byron. The scene at the wreck is described as terrible.

At 9 o'clock a wrecking train brought the killed and wounded here and an ambulance, police patrol wagon and hacks made a mournful procession through the crowded streets to the hospitals and undertaker's rooms.

MICHAEL BERGER, of Buffalo, fireman of the passenger train, was instantly killed. Engineer PATRICK RYAN, of Buffalo, had his chest crushed and he is in the hospital here. Of the twenty Italians in the smoking car only one escaped injury and he was on the platform, usually considered the place of the greatest danger.

SYRACUSE, Aug. 6. -- JOSEPH M. KEES, of St. Louis, and ANTONIO UMBELLO, Italian, died at the hospital in this city. This death makes the number of fatalities twelve. Of the injured some will probably die.

At 4:50 o'clock the relief train started from the West Shore depot in this city. The run to Port Byron was rapid and when the train entered the stretch of the track east of Montezuma, a desolate sight met the gaze of its passengers. Ministering to the wants of the injured and caring for the dead were seen many brave helpers from among the passengers and crew of the ill fated train. On board the relief train were put those who were dead and the injured were disposed of as comfortably as the cramped seats of the day coaches would allow.

At 7:30 the start was made for Syracuse. When Port Byron was reached the dead were taken off and laid in the freight house and the train continued slowly to Syracuse. Between Port Byron and Syracuse one of the Italians who was horribly injured in the smoker, died and was laid out in the baggage car. Conductor KANALEY, of the limited, said that the accident occurred at exactly 2:40 o'clock.

NEW YORK, Aug. 6. -- A west shore official says: From what can be learned there is no doubt that the accident this morning was the result of the conductor and flagman of the freight train neglect to observe the rule in regard to sending back a flagman toward trains moving on the same track.

SYRACUSE, N. Y., Aug. 3.-- WILLIAM K. WILEY, a dealer in securities, of San Bernadino, California, was among the injured taken to the house of the Good Shepard in this city. He was on his was home from Boston and expected to meet his wife and two children at Detroit, Michigan, where they had been visiting. He said:
"I was in the rear end of the smoker when the crash occurred. I had time to know what was happening and as the baggage car crashed through the smoker I could see it bowling down the men like ten pens. I just turned my back and waited to be crushed. In an instant I was up to my neck in debris and felt that I was hurt but managed to extricate myself and crawl out upon the top of the wreck. I found a traveling acquaintance, JOHN F. BROWDISH, a brush manufacturer, of Boston, pinned down in the narrow space at the end of the coach, unable to move, he was wedged so tightly in. The this car had gone a foot further he would have been crushed to a jelly. By this time the wreck was on fire and before we had chopped away the timber that held BOWDISH, the flames were right upon us. Then we crawled back on top the Pullman, where the porters were all standing idle. If it had not been for the heroic work of the passengers themselves, many of the injured would have been roasted alive. The members of an opera company that was on the train did splendid work."

"I saw," said MR. WILSEY, a brakeman of the freight train standing by the side of the track crazy with excitement. I asked him, "for God's sake, man, how did this thing happen?" "Oh my God," he fairly shouted, "I told them to go back; I told them to go back." "What do you mean; back where?" "Back from the freight." I asked him then if he meant that the freight did not send back any light, but he would not say anything more. I think that here may be a clue to the cause of the wreck."

The wrecking crews are at work clearing away the debris. The collision occurred about one-eighth mile from the switch. The tracks for a distance of two rods were tore up. Coroner STEWART, of Cayuga county, empaneled a jury this morning, which will commence investigation this afternoon.

The following is a revised list of the killed and injured.


All of the above were Italians and all adults. Fireman MICHAEL BURGER, Macedon, New York, was instantly killed and leaves a wife but no children. ANTONIO BELLOW leaves a wife and four children in Italy; he was brought to this city and died at the house of the Good Shepherd at 11 o'clock. JOSEPH KESHAN, of St. Louis, has a leg crushed and he died at the house of the Good Shepard at 11:30 a. m., he leaves a wife and family in St. Louis.

Aspen Weekly Times Colorado 1891-08-08