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Maine Genealogy Archives

Maine Railroad Accident Reports, 1871

Source: Reports of the Railroad Commissioners of the State of Maine for the Year 1871 (Augusta, Me.: Sprague, Owen & Nash, printers, 1872).

[p. 35]
ACCIDENTS.
Maine Central. On the 9th of August, there was a serious disaster at the Hampden road bridge on the Maine Central, about one mile below Bangor station. It occurred at 1.30 P. M. to the incoming train. Mr. Percival of Waterville, brakeman, an estimable young man was instantly killed, and Thomas Gallagher, a passenger, who was standing outside on the platform, was hurled down the embankment and covered with the fragments of the wreck; he was taken out alive and removed into a house, but died soon after. Nineteen others were injured seriously and several slightly.

[accidents resume on page 42]


[p. 42]
Lewis Belongey of Brunswick, a workman on a pick-up train, was thrown from a car at D[r]esden, March 9th—one leg and one arm were badly crushed.

As Owen Durgin and son were crossing the track of the Maine Central railroad, April 8th, near Woodford's Corner in Deering, with a pair of horses and jigger, an engine on a passing train struck and upset the jigger. Mr. Durgin and his son were thrown off. Mr. Durgin escaped with a few bruises. The son fell upon the track; the wheels of the engine passed over his right arm below the elbow, crushing it so that amputation was necessary.

As the mail train from Skowhegan was passing Oak Hill station, May 3d, Mr. David Harrington, in handing the mail to the mail agent who was standing in the car door to receive it, fell or was thrown down upon the platform and knocked off the platform down between it and the rail. He was dead when taken up, after the train passed on. His age was 72 years. The speed of the train was hardly checked in passing the station, and it was certainly imprudent for so old a man to attempt to pass the mail-bag into it when going at its ordinary rate of twenty or more miles an hour. We have not the means of deciding whether it was the Post Office Department or the railroad company that was in fault. But it would seem that if it was the duty of the train to receive the mailbag at this station, it was a part of its duty to stop or slow sufficiently to do so with safety to the post-master or person in charge of the mail.

As the passenger train from Bangor and Skowhegan was crossing the county road, May 22d, leading from Portland to Saccarappa, the engineer saw a man walking on the track beyond said crossing towards the engine, with his head down. The whistle was blown, but the man did not look up; the alarm whistle was sounded, the brakes were applied, but the train could not be stopped until after the engine had struck and killed the man. Deceased's name was John Mulligan, single man, about 45 years of age. He was under the influence of liquor, it was supposed, at the time.

The freight train from Danville Junction to Waterville, May 29th,


[p. 43]
was thrown from the track near North Belgrade station; Eugene Guliver, fireman, was instantly killed and Robert Austin was seriously injured; cause of accident, expansion of rails. Accidents of this kind could be prevented by careful attention to the rails in extreme heat.

A Mr. Cram, brakeman on a freight train, May 29th, had one of his arms badly crushed while shackling cars at Newport.

As the mail train from Bangor and Skowhegan for Portland was proceeding at the usual rate of speed, June 26th, at a point one and a half miles east of Freeport station, about 2.10 P. M., the forward (axle of the tender broke. Six cars were thrown from the track—two baggage cars, one smoking car, three passenger cars. The three rear cars, including the Pullman parlor, remained on the track. George Chase, baggage-master, was instantly killed, Albion Barren, brakeman, in setting his brake, when the cars came together got his leg caught between them. The limb was crushed and mangled in a fearful way. It was impossible to force the cans apart. Dr. P. N. Otis of New York, who chanced to be on board of the train, amputated the crushed leg with a common knife and saw. Barron died in about six hours after the accident. Augustus Larrabee, brakeman, had his leg broken. George Tarbox, express messenger, had his thumb broken. G. O. Durgin was slightly bruised. No passenger was seriously injured.

[accidents resume on page 44]


[p. 44]
Two trains collided, June 27th, about 5.15 P. M., on a curve in the railroad one mile and a quarter below Hallowell; the up train and the one having the right of track, was the accommodation train from Gardiner for Augusta; it consisted of the engine and one passenger car, and left Gardiner on time, 5.00 P. M. The down train was from Augusta for Portland—time for leaving Augusta as per time-table, 4.30 P. M., but did not leave until 5.00 P. M.—waited for the adjournment of the Democratic State Convention. This train should have kept out of the way of the train from Gardiner. Charles Evans, engineer of the train from Gardiner, seeing the danger, sounded the alarm whistle, reversed his engine, and his train was nearly at a stand still when struck by the engine on the down train. Evans and his fireman jumped from their engine and escaped unhurt. Daniel Berry, engineer, and Wilson Cavill, fireman on the down train from Augusta, stuck to their engine. Berry was caught between the engine and tender and lived only about five minutes; Cavill was taken out and carried to his home in Augusta, but died from the injuries received from the collision. Others were seriously bruised. The coroner's jury found Charles Merrill, conductor of the down train, the party in fault and exonerated the railroad company from blame. Certainly the company did not intend this disaster, but whose fault was it that an incompetent conductor was placed in charge of a train?

Josiah H. Tilton of Skowhegan, July 1st, had one of his feet crushed at that place by a passenger train, which was-being switched on to a side track. The forward car struck him throwing him down and one wheel passed over his left foot, crushing it so badly that amputation was necessary, and was performed by Drs. Stevens and Wilbur.

John Sylvester, about fourteen years old, attempted August 3d, to get upon a freight train as it was passing Woodford's Corner, in Deering, when by some means his left foot got under the wheels. A portion of his foot was so badly crushed that amputation was necessary.

While the 6.00 A. M. freight train from Skowhegan was standing at Vassalboro', August 7th, with two passenger cars attached, and about forty passengers, a special freight train that was following ran into the rear passenger car. Hon. T. S. Lang, who chanced


[p. 45]
to be on board the train, saw the train approaching, gave the alarm and most of the passengers escaped from the car before the engine ran into it. Eli French had his foot seriously injured, Geo. P. Wadsworth of Boston, was badly scalded on the head and neck and hand; J. J. Walker of North New Portland, was hurt on the side by jumping from the car; Wm. Warren of Skowhegan, was slightly scalded about the head by escaping steam; Mrs. Sophia Lashus of Waterville was hurt by the fall from the car. The special freight train was greatly in fault, and Mr. Lincoln did right in discharging J. G. Fairbrother, the conductor, and John I. Nichols, the engineer.

James Mitchell of Deering, brakeman on the mixed train, August 21st, while attempting to pass from the engine to the rear of the train, between Freeport and Yarmouth, fell or slipped from the top of the car. The train was stopped and run back. Mitchell was found dead in the ditch by the side of the track.

Oliver Clay, about ten years old, in attempting, August 31st, to get on to the train after it had started from Bath, fell and was run over. He lived only two hours.

Mr. Samuel W. Huntington, in attempting to get on to the car of a freight train at Hallowell, September 29th, after the train had started, was thrown against the platform and seriously injured.

Horace Moody of Skowhegan, brakeman on freight train, while engaged in shackling cars at Gardiner, October 1st, was badly jammed between the bunters and seriously injured.

Mr. Benjamin Rowe, a deaf mute of New Gloucester, was knocked down, October 2lst, and seriously injured, by a construction train on the Maine Central extension.

Albion Burrill, an employee of Waterville, was so terribly crushed between two cars, October 26th, that he was attempting to shackle at Detroit, that he died instantly.

The night express train from Bangor for Portland, November 15th, consisting of baggage car, smoking car, passenger and two sleeping cars, was thrown off the track about two miles below Hallowell at about 11.40 P. M. A culvert had got choked up so that the water could not run through it, and by reason of this stoppage of the water the gravel was washed from under the track and thereby the accident occasioned. Several persons were slightly injured.

On December 18th, Jerome Spaulding, a boy about 14 years old, residing at Bangor, was at Carmel and attempted to get on


[p. 46]
to a platform car of a freight train after it had started from the station, and fell upon track. The wheels passed over his right arm and shoulder, crushing bone and flesh and injuring him seriously.

As the local freight train from Waterville was passing under the bridge near Lewiston station, at 9.00 A. M., November 22d, Samuel O. Gray, brakeman, who was tending the brake on the top of the car, was struck on the head by the bridge and fell between the cars on the track. Several cars passed over his body, crushing it in a shocking manner. He was killed, probably, by the blow from the bridge. His neck was broken. Deceased was about 35 years old.

There is a statute of Massachusetts, approved May 26, 1869, providing that no bridge shall thereafter be constructed over any railway at a height less than 18 feet, excepting by written consent of the County Commissioners, and that every railroad corporation shall erect suitable "bridge guards " at every bridge over its road less than eighteen feet in height. A "bridge guard" patented by C. L. Heywood of Boston, has been used on several railroads in Massachusetts and elsewhere, and in the opinion of Superintendents, as we are informed, has proved a great protection against accidents. If the bridge at Lewiston had been furnished with a suitable "bridge guard" the life of Gray might probably have been saved.

Grand Trunk. As No. 10 freight train was approaching West Paris station, February 13th, Zibon Andrews, brakeman, went between the tender and the first car. In attempting to pull the pin he slipped and fell on to the rail; the car passed over him, cutting off one of his arms and one leg. He was taken to the station; several physicians were called, but they decided that amputation would not save him. He died at 11 o'clock the same night.

As No. 4 passenger train was approaching Danville Junction station, February 21st, and had uncoupled from the Maine Central train, the engineer, J. H. Nichols, saw two men walking near the track towards the station; the alarm whistle was sounded; one of the men stepped on to the track just in front of the engine. The engine was reversed immediately, but not in time to avoid injury to the man. The engine and four cars passed over him, breaking one of his arms and one leg. His name was Patrick Haley. He belonged in Lewiston, where he was immediately taken. The broken arm and leg were amputated by surgeons of Lewiston.

Thomas Doyle, employee, was shackling cars on Commercial


[p. 47]
street in Portland, July 17th; one of his feet caught in a brake; he was thrown down by the side of the rail, and the flesh and muscles from the knee to the ankle were badly crushed and torn.

A special engine, that was running from Portland to Gorham about six o'clock on the morning of August 1st, ran into a handcar going in the same direction; there were on the hand-car five men. One of them, David Robbins, was instantly killed, and G. C. Swan was seriously injured. The other three escaped unhurt. The collision was on a curve one mile above Bryant's Pond station. The engineer could not see the hand-car in time to prevent the disaster. This engine was running, as railroad men phrase it, "wild;" that is, without being signalled by a preceding train, but on a special order to keep out of the way of regular trains. The section-men, therefore, had no warning of its approach. The question may be, whether the exigency of the case justified the running of this engine without the usual signalling.

The passenger train from Island Pond had arrived at Pownal station, August 12th, and was standing on the side track, when David I. Lawrence, who had delivered the mail in his charge to the agent on board of the car, stepped back on to the main track, without noticing that the passenger train from Portland was coming. He was struck and thrown some distance by the engine, and was taken up insensible, with the blood oozing from his head.

Frank W. Lapham of Bryant's Pond, going up on a night freight train, August 16th, jumped from the rear car when the train was in motion, between Bryant's Pond and Locke's Mills, and was seriously injured.

Cornelius Mahoney, who could not show a ticket when the conductor called for it, and refused to pay his fare, was put off the train, September 1st, at Falmouth station. He was intoxicated at the time, and was placed at a safe distance from the track; but after the train had left he started up the track towards Yarmouth, where he resided. After walking a mile or more he fell or laid down between the rails and went to sleep, as is supposed. The engineer of a following train saw a man lying between the rails, but there being a curve in the track at that place, he did not notice him in time to prevent the injury. After the train was stopped it was found that one hip was crushed, one arm cut off, and that he was otherwise injured.

As the 1.10 P. M. train from Portland was passing round Fish


[p. 48]
point at Portland, John Bonner, newspaper boy, jumped from the car and was seriously injured in his face.

European and North American. Charles C. Everett, fireman on the engine "Winn," running freight train between Bangor and Mattawamkeag, was killed at Lincoln, May, 1871. Two cars loaded, were being pushed by the engine to the side track, and Everett at the time was oiling his engine; the cars being pushed jumped the track at a road crossing, and he, being in front of his engine, was caught between the cylinder of the engine and the end of the car, both the engine and the car were off the track and it was impossible to extricate him till he was so much exhausted that he died soon after being taken out.

Portland and Rochester. William Splan, an employee on a construction train, had one of his feet severely mangled at Springvale, May 15th.

On the arrival of the mixed train at Saco River station, September, 30th, 4.00 P. M., as Mrs. J. W. Junkins, a passenger, was attempting to step from the rear platform of the rear car, the train suddenly started, precipitating her and her little boy upon the track and dragging her some distance. Mrs. Junkins had one arm broken and the little boy was badly bruised.

Knox and Lincoln. John Bark, laborer, fell between two cars, September 4th, near Damariscotta, and was seriously injured.

Mr. Huges, employee on a construction train, fell under a car, September 25th; one of his legs was cut off, and he was otherwise injured. He died soon after.

Nathaniel Glidden, a deaf man aged 84 years, was struck, October 6th, by a passing train near the station at Nobleborough, and instantly killed.

Portland and Ogdensburg. The train from North Conway, due at Portland at 6.30 P. M., November 4th, carried the usual signal indicating that a special train was following; but the section men, though thus notified in the usual way that a special engine was coming, put their hand-car on to the track, and five men got on board and started up the track. After proceeding a short distance the light of the coming engine was seen, but Joseph Chouinor, the employee in charge, said the light was in a building in the distance, but in a moment the engine was upon them. The men attempted to jump from the car, but Chouinor was struck by the engine and instantly killed; one of the other men, not an employee of the road, had a leg broken, the other three escaped unhurt.


[p. 49]
A construction train composed of platform cars—the one most distant from the engine loaded with stone with quite a number of laborers on it, was backing down below Sebago Lake station, and collided, June 28th, with a special train from Portland for Sebago Lake station. There was a curve in the track where the accident occurred. Six of the laborers were seriously injured. Conductor S. H. Stevens of the special train, and M. G. Dow, mail agent, and several others on it were slightly injured. This accident was occasioned by reason of indefinite instructions in pencil from the road-master to the conductor of the construction train, and then not communicated to the engine driver.

Freeman Sanborn, brakeman, while shackling cars, August 22d, at Hiram, his arm got caught between the bunters and was seriously injured.

John Clark of Baldwin, aged 81 years, was knocked down, September 2d, by the engine of the up freight train. He soon died from the injuries received. When the alarm whistle was sounded the old man looked around but did not attempt to get out of the way.

Androscoggin. A bar of railroad iron got out of place on a car March 9th. One end of it struck against a bank by the side of the track, forcing the other end into the conductor's car and seriously injuring George H. Knapp, Conductor.

Henry S. Jones of Augusta, was knocked down and run over and instantly killed, April 14th, by a car that was being shunted near the Androscoggin Railroad station at Lewiston. He was deaf.

Boston and Maine. Charles W. Simpson was run over and instantly killed at the gravel pit between Salmon Falls and South Berwick Junction, by the 6.00 P. M. express train from Boston, July 4th.

Portland, Saco and Portsmouth. Wilbur G. Andrews, an employee of the road, at Biddeford, was moving a baggage truck with baggage and a sewing machine on it, February 6th, to the place where the baggage car stops. The sewing machine slid off on to the track. Andrews, in attempting to take the sewing machine from the track, was struck by the engine on the 3.00 o'clock P. M. train from Portland, and instantly killed.

Robert D. Hunter, brakeman upon a freight train, was badly injured in the head at an over-head bridge, at East Kennebunk sta-


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tion, about 10½ o'clock P. M., February 28th. He was cared for by his comrade as well as possible, and when the train arrived at Portland at midnight, the wounded man was carried to his house and Dr. Gordon was called. Mr. Hunter laid in an unconscious state until 6.15 the following morning, when he died. Dr. Gordon testified before the coroner's jury that he had no doubt that death resulted from a fracture of the skull. Andrews and Hunter were both estimable young men.

Albert Piper got on board at Biddeford of the morning train from Portland, March 20th. He was intoxicated, making some disturbance. The conductor put him off at the next station, but he got on again, and when the train arrived at North Berwick, Piper, who was in a Boston and Maine car, got off to take an Eastern Railroad car, for Beverly. He stepped on to the footboard of the car and off on to the station platform just as the train started. He attempted to get on again, but some by-standers, seeing that he was intoxicated, tried to prevent it, fearing he might get under the wheels. Piper shook them off, and attempted to jump on to the car, which had got well under way. He fell, and three cars run over his right arm near the shoulder. Dr. Hall of Biddeford amputated the arm.

John Wither, one of a party of river drivers, was en route, April 11th, westward, when the 3 P. M. train from Portland arrived at Saco. Wither got off the train, and in attempting to get on again, after the train was in motion, he slipped from the platform under the wheels. One arm was crushed and mangled in a manner that rendered amputation necessary near the shoulder.

As the mixed train from Portland was leaving the platform at Cape Elizabeth for Biddeford, June 24th, David M. French, in attempting to get on between two box cars, fell between them, and two or three cars passed over him. He was taken up and brought to the station at Portland; from there he was taken to the police station. Dr. Getchell, city physician, and Dr. Gordon, were called, but the man was beyond medical relief. He died of the injuries received about four hours afterwards, at 9.50 P. M. His age was about fifty years. The verdict of the coroner's jury was that the man came to his death by his own carelessness.