Preble, NY Train Wreck and Fire, Dec 1895


Wreck on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.


New-York and Philadelphia Express Crashes into a Freight Train at Preble, N. Y.


Possibly Others Have Shared Their Fate---At Least Twelve of the Passengers Badly Injured.

SYRACUSE, N. Y., Dec. 2.---The New-York and Philadelphia Express on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, which leaves Syracuse at 10:10 o'clock at night, was wrecked this morning at 12:30 o'clock, half a mile north of Preble Station, twenty-six miles south of this city.

There seems to be no doubt that the work was caused by deliberate intention, and not by carelessness.

The engineer and fireman of the train were killed, and possibly others. At least twelve of the passengers were badly injured.

The Dead.

Those known to be dead are:

ROOF, WEBSTER, of Syracuse; fireman.
YOUNG, GEORGE, of Syracuse; engineer.

The train which consisted of one baggage car, one mail car, two day coaches, and a sleeper, was running at the rate of fifty miles an hour when the wreck took place. The siding at Preble had been opened to allow a freight train to get out of the way of the express, and the switch was left open.

The passenger train crashed into the freight cars on the siding, completely telescoping three of them. The engine and tender of the express were completely demolished, and the engineer was killed instantly.

Roof, the fireman, was taken from beneath the wreck of the engine and died soon afterward.

No sooner had the wreck occurred than the baggage car, which was reduced to kindling wood in the collision, caught fire from the engine.

The panic stricken passengers barely had time to get from the cars before the whole train was in a blaze. The scene of the wreck was a half a mile from any farmhouse, and the passengers had to depend on their own resources to assist themselves and their injured companions.

There were about fifty passengers on the train, including the members of "The Bowery Girl" theatrical company.

A wrecking train with physicians on board was sent out from Syracuse at 1:30 o'clock.

The body of Engineer Young has not been found, as it is covered by the wreck of the engine.

It is impossible to get fuller particulars this morning, as the scene of the wreck is half a mile from any telephone or telegraph office.

The New York Times, New York, NY 2 Dec 1895



Big Reward Offered for the Arrest of the Miscreants---Three Men in Custody on Suspicion---Collision the Result of a Plot.

CORTLAND, N. Y., Dec. 2.---There is convincing proof that the train wreck at Preble last night on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Road was the result of a plot. A reward of $5,000 has been offered for the capture of the train wreckers.

The train was due at Preble at 11:01 P. M., but was not going to stop there. It was four minutes late in passing, and had ten miles of straight track on a down grade, where the train is usually run at the rate of sixty miles an hour. The train consisted of the engine, the Sam Sloan, the largest passenger locomotive on the division; an express car and a car of scenery for the show troupe, "A Bowery Girl,"; a baggage car, a smoker, a day coach, and a Pullman sleeper.

Ten rods north of Preble station there is a switch which sidetracks cars behind the station. There is a water tank a few rods north, so that the switch cannot be seen till the tank has been passed. The switch is an automatic-ball affair, and must be held up to open it. The ball lever was propped up by an iron bar and a piece of fence board. Seven freight cars stood on the switch tracks.

The passengers' first notification of anything wrong was the trembling of the train as the air brakes were set hard. Two car lengths further ahead the collision occurred. The engine was completely wrecked beyond all repair. Two freight cars turned off to the left, the body resting on the engine tender; the baggage car turned to the right, and was partly upset. The smoker and day coach were derailed, but were not overturned. The sleeper did not leave the rails.

Fireman Webster Raaf was found beside the engine, under the wreckage, badly scalded. He was taken out alive after an hour's work, but he died on the way to Cortland. Richard Young, the engineer, was also killed.

None of the passengers was hurt, but all were badly shaken up. They all got out of the train safely and secured their hand baggage. All the baggage was saved and about half of the scenery of the theatrical troupe was saved.

The wreck took fire from the lamps, and the woodwork of the engine and four cars was entirely burned. The sleeper had been detached from the rest of the train and was backed from the burning wreck and saved.

Superintendent Schwartz of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad has posted the following notice:

The Syracuse, Binghamton and New-York Railroad Company hereby offer a reward of $5,000 to whomsoever shall secure the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who caused the wreck of the express train at Preble on the night of Dec. 1, 1895.

Postal authorities at Oswego say that all mail in the wrecked car was destroyed.

A German, who is unable to speak English, was arrested by a Deputy Sheriff this afternoon. The arrest was made in the station at Summit. Shortly afterward another man was arrested. An Italian named "Mike," from a gypsy camp near the scene of the wreck, is also under arrest.

The New York Times, New York, NY 3 Dec 1895