Maine Genealogy Archives

Maine Railroad Accident Reports, 1870

Source: Reports of the Railroad Commissioners of the State of Maine for the Year 1870 (Augusta, Me.: Sprague, Owen & Nash, printers, 1871).

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Sarah Ann Cunningham, a child eighteen months old, a daughter of Mr. Thomas Cunningham of Milford, was killed on the 25th of November, by the 5:15 down freight train, at the railroad crossing in Milford, near the bridge. The parents live within a few rods of the track; but the child had never before, as its mother says, strayed on to the road that she was aware of. It was a very dark evening, and the place of the disaster was upon a down grade, and upon a curve. The engine had no head-light, and the employés upon the train were not aware of the casualty until the next day. The remains were found by a little sister, sent to search for her after she was missed in the evening, on the track where the railway crosses the county road, the head severed from the body, and lying some feet from it.

There is much danger to lives upon railroad crossings in villages, and parents and citizens cannot be too careful, or conductors and engineers too vigilant, at these exposed points, to avoid disasters. Neither should ever be unmindful of the liability of their occurrence.

On the same day, November 25th, a boy eight years of age was killed upon the Portland and Rochester Railroad. The boy's name was Walter, a son of Mr. John Mace, baggage-master upon the Portland and Kennebec road. The inward bound train had discharged its passengers in the Portland depot, and was backing out to be made up for morning. As the passenger car was moving out of the depot, the lad got upon it, but was put off by the brakeman. When the baggage car came along he attempted to get upon that, between it and the tender, but fell on the track, and the tender and engine ran over both legs, cutting them off between the knee and the hip, and severing an arm. The boy died about nine o'clock the same evening. The coroner's jury acquitted the employés upon the train of any fault in the matter.

Charles Libby of Windham, sixteen years of age, was killed at the Lambert road crossing in Falmouth, September 6th. He was run over by the 5:15 train from Portland, of the Portland and

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Kennebec road. The coroner's jury did not find any cause for censure of any one employed on the train.

The train that left Brunswick at 2:20 P. M., December 7th, for Bath, was thrown from the track at Cook's corner, two miles from Brunswick station, and the baggage car and one passenger car were thrown upon their sides. Engineer Hammond had an arm broken. The accident was caused by a misplaced switch.

November 15th the 4 o'clock train of the Portland and Kennebec Railroad came in collision with an ox upon the track at Rigg's brook about two miles from Augusta. The four rear cars were thrown off the track, and two of them were badly broken up. The engine dragged the remaining three cars some twenty rods, one of them on its side. It was a bad smash up, doing much damage to the train and seriously bruising six or eight passengers. But the great wonder of the casualty is that limbs were not broken and lives lost in the catastrophe. The same train ran into two cows between Richmond and Augusta, one of them just below South Gardiner. There must have been fault upon the part of the railroad company or of the owners of the cattle. If the road was properly fenced by the company, it was the duty of the owners to keep the bars up. The cattle were not rightfully within the location of the road.

A very severe disaster occurred October 27th, on the Bath Branch of the Portland and Kennebec road. The train consisted of an empty box car, three platform cars, followed by a baggage car and two passenger cars. The accident was caused by the breaking of a wheel on the rear platform car. Mr. Crawford, the baggage-master, was standing on the platform at the moment. A fragment of the wheel struck him with great force, breaking his left arm, cutting his clothes across the abdomen, crushing his foot, and making several contusions. He lived but a little while. The coroner's jury found "that the deceased, George W. Crawford, came to his death on Thursday, October 27th, at 2:30 o'clock P. M., on the Bath branch of the Portland and Kennebec Railroad, by the breaking of a wheel of a platform car belonging to the Androscoggin Railroad, and throwing the cars from the track, at Thompson's brook, in Brunswick; and the jury severely censure the employes of said Androscoggin Railroad Company for suffering the wheel to be run on the road."

January 3d, 1870, the morning train from South Paris, on the Grand Trunk, ran into a wash-out at Mink brook, so called, and

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the engine, tender, milk car and baggage car went down into it, and over the embankment some fifty feet. The engineer, Mr. Nichols, got a deep and ugly wound in the knee, and several severe bruises. The fireman was wounded slightly on the arm.

November 5th, on the Grand Trunk, the tender of a gravel train ran off the track, leaving the locomotive on its side across the track. The fireman, Oliver Jordan, was fatally injured, and died soon afterwards. The engineer, John Sinclair, was injured in the hand, and Henry Hamilton in the ancle. The coroner's jury found that Mr. Jordan came to his death by an unavoidable railroad accident, and that no blame was attached to any of the employés.

March 14th, Oliver Tracy, the proprietor of woollen mills at West Buxton, and a gentleman of respectability, with Mr. John Sawyer of the same town, and Mr. H. Partridge of Saco, attempted to cross the track of the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth road, at the crossing east of the station at Biddeford, in a sleigh drawn by two horses. They saw the train approaching about fifty feet off. The horses succeeded in getting over the track, but the sleigh was hit, and Mr. Tracy was instantly killed, and Mr. Sawyer considerably injured. No blame can be attached to the employés upon the train.