Hartford, VT Train Wreck, Feb 1887


The writer was personally cognizant of the history of this horrible railway disaster. He visited the scent of the wreck about day light on the morning of the accident; visited and conversed with the survivors from the ill-fated train, from time to time, during their convalescence; observed the reprehensible conduct of the officials of the Central railroad, in their premature attempts to effect settlements with the mangled, tortured survivors of that holocaust. Justice, humanity and decency were set at defiance by the attorneys and the Vial-lainous ame damnee representing said corporation, who did not hesitate to villify and traduce those who were not obsequious to their will, or ready to be their time severs at the price of an annual pass.

The following report of the railroad commissioners concerning the disaster of Feb. 5, 1887, is an acceptable showing of facts, but the number of passengers aboard the train is, and ever will be a matter of mere guess-work. As to the speed of the train on approaching the bridge and crossing it, it is sufficient to say that the Leightons, who live near the bridge, concur in saying that the speed of trains was rarely ever perceptibly diminished while crossing it. It is too much to believe that the ill-fated train, which was nearly two hours late, was slowed up to one-half of the schedule rate before reaching the bridge. Under positive proof that he was running in excess of schedule time, Engineer Pierce could not escape the penalty of manslaughter. As to the responsibility of the corporation, testimony recently given conclusively shows that the track from the end of the said bridge, for several hundred feet had been not long before the accident, relaid with much worn iron----some of it re-curved in a cold state, and that it was unfit to use for mogul engines, and the very heavily loaded trains constantly passing over it. The sum and substance of the commissioners' report is as follows:

The facts and circumstances attending the above named disaster, as developed by the testimony taken by the board, and an inspection of the premises shortly after the accident occurred, are as follows:

Train No. 50, known as the "night express," left White River Junction for Montreal at 2:10 o'clock, on the morning of the 5th instant.

The train was on hour and thirty minutes late. The schedule place of meeting the night express bound south from Montreal to Boston, is Randolph. That train was correspondingly late, and train No. 50 was under orders to meet it at Randolph as usual, and started out accordingly at the hour above indicated.

The number of passengers aboard the train was seventy-nine. The trainmen were the conductor, engineer, fireman, two brakemen, baggage man, express messenger, two postal clerks, a Pullman conductor, and two Pullman porters.

The distance from White River Junction to Hartford (formerly known as the Woodstock) bridge, is about four miles. South of the bridge is a curve of three degrees and forty=five minutes in the track, which becomes straight again about 142 feet from the bridge, and so continues for some rods beyond the bridge. From a point some fifty rods south of the bridge to a point about 142 feet there from the grade is slightly downward, when it becomes level and so continues to a point just a point just beyond the bridge.

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