Maine Genealogy Archives

Maine Railroad Accident Reports, 1872

Source: Reports of the Railroad Commissioners of the State of Maine for the Year 1872 (Augusta, Me.: Sprague, Owen & Nash, printers, 1873).

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The railroads of the State have been freer from accidents to passengers the past season than they were the year before. This is attributable in part, we think, to the strengthening of the bridges, and in part to better discipline among employees. The supervision has been commendably vigilant so far as we have been able to judge, and Presidents and Directors have given to their respective roads a becoming singleness of effort and purpose to make them safer and better. All have felt perhaps more than heretofore, the responsibility of the trusts reposed in them. There are now greater interests than heretofore of life and property at stake to stimulate to improvement of the roads, and to watchfulness in their management by all.

Portland, Saco and Portsmouth Railroad
. July 1.—Mr. Buffam of Vassalboro', while walking across the track at North Berwick was struck by an engine. He was thrown some distance and instantly killed.

August 24.—As the 9.10 A. M. train from Portland was approaching South Berwick junction, where the Boston and Maine cars are unshackled from the Eastern Railroad cars, just after the

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pin had been pulled, the Engineer set the Westenhaus air brake which brought the Eastern Railroad train to a sudden stand-still before it had passed the switch for the Boston and Maine train. The result was that the Boston and Maine train ran into the rear of the Eastern Railroad train. The Conductor, two passengers and the Express Messenger were injured.

September 2.—Hosley Davis, employee, while engaged in shackling cars switched from the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth train to the Maine Central train, got his foot caught, and before he could extricate himself he was thrown down by a car that was in motion, which passed over his leg crushing it from the ankle to the knee, and rendering amputation necessary; his left foot was also injured. He died in a short time after the accident.

September 24.—William Eaton while engaged in shackling cars in the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth yard at Portland, in attempting to step from one car to another caught his foot in the bunter. He fell between the cars, breaking his collar bone and crushing several of his ribs.

November 6.—Mrs. Mary Hobbs, wife of James Hobbs, Baggage Master on the Eastern road, was on board the train at South Berwick Junction. The train had run past the station and started to back up, when Mrs. Hobbs in attempting to get off was thrown down on the ground with her right arm across the rail. Her arm was completely severed from her body. She died the next day.

Boston and Maine Railroad. November 15, 1872.—Mr. Elbridge, Civil Engineer, in stepping from an engine when in motion on the extension at Berwick, slipped and fell across the track. The whole train passed over him causing instant death.

November 18.—Hugh Wade, about fifteen years old, an employee on a construction train on the extension of said road, lost his balance and fell upon the track; several cars passed over his bowels, killing him instantly.

Grand Trunk Bailway. April 9.—Mr. E. D. Marshall, as a freight train was passing West Paris, attempted to throw a bag of corn upon a platform car and fell upon the track; several cars passed over him, killing him instantly. His employment was sawing wood for the Grand Trunk Railway.

April 18.—John C. Miller, brakeman on a freight train, in attempting, it is supposed, to step from one car to another fell between the two cars, it being in the night. He was not missed for

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some little time; a train that was following passed over his body, and when taken up he was dead.

May 3.—Patrick Welch, switchman, stepped from the main track to get out of the way of the passenger train that was coming into the station at Portland, was thrown down by shunting a train that was moving in the opposite direction; several cars passed over his body. He died in one hour after the accident.

Maine Central Railroad. April 13.—John Road, a Frenchman belonging in Farmington, in attempting to get upon the P. M. train at Lewiston, after the train had started, was thrown against the canal bridge with such violence as to break his neck. His death was instantaneous.

April 15.—Near North Leeds five freight cars were thrown off the track. Frank Locke, brakeman, was thrown between the cars and received a very severe scalp wound.

December 11.—Frank George, brakeman, was terribly jammed while coupling cars at Farmington. Three of his ribs were wrenched from the breast bone and other hurts sustained.

December 24.—Charles Murry of Waterville had his head badly injured while shackling cars at East Newport.

July 28.—Frank, son of Simon Lombard, eight years old, at the time of the arrival of the passenger train at East Wilton depot had placed himself under the platform, and was in the act of placing a nail on the rail that the passing wheels might flatten it, when the train started and one of his ears was struck by some portion of the car, which cut through the ear and also through the scalp of the skull, and the wheels passing over his left hand.

August 22.—John Dixon, while switching cars at Augusta, was caught by the switch rope and thrown under the cars. He was instantly killed.

March 19.—Augustus Bickford, conductor of a wood train, fell between the cars at Augusta and was very seriously injured.

March 18.—Edward Blake of Bangor, while attempting to jump upon a moving freight train at Waterville, fell under the wheels and was instantly killed.

June 3. Moses Parsons was unloading wood at Leonard's crossing on the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad; his horses became restless, and in attempting to hold them he was precipitated on to the track, and the engine ran over him instantly killing him. It was a melancholy accident, but no blame was attached to any employee of the road.

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August 26.—Leander Grotier attempted to walk from the engine to the rear of the train on the top of the cars. In passing Little Androscoggin bridge a timber struck his head killing him instantly.

October 22.—George Starrett, brakeman, had his leg and foot mangled in a fearful manner at Hermon Pond by jumping off the engine, and a part of the train passing over his foot and leg.

Portland and Rochester. November 12.—By the misplacement of a switch at Saco River the 1.30 P. M. train from Portland, ran into a freight car on the side track. Three passengers were injured.

November 14.—Charles D. Whitten, brakeman, was struck by an overhead bridge, between Alfred and Springvale, and received injuries from which he died shortly afterwards.

European and North American Railway. January 3.—Frank Stetson, brakeman, fell between two cars at Olamon; his leg was so badly crushed that amputation was necessary.

July 3.—The evening train was passing the Hall crossing, half a mile above Lincoln Centre and ran over a man by the name of John Matherson, who was lying on the track, cutting his head entirely from his body. The train came along at half past ten o'clock. The engineer did not see the man on the track, or even know of the casualty until the return of the evening train. No blame can be attached to the engineer or any employee of the road.

September 9.—Michael Connor was run over by the cars at Orono. One of his legs was crushed so badly that it had to be amputated.

May 2.—David Bean, brakeman, while upon the roof of a car was struck and instantly killed by a rod at the St. Croix bridge.

April 30.—Joel Littlefield, brakeman, was struck by an overhead bridge near Lincoln station and thrown between the cars on to the track. He lived but a short time after being run over. He had been in the employ of the company for some time and was usually very careful, but this time he sat carelessly facing the rear of the train as it approached the bridge.

May 7.—Two little boys were by the side of the railroad track, just above the toll bridge, on their way to school, when a locomotive came along with two empty cars which it was backing up to the engine house. As the engine passed the boys one of them pushed the other, George McCormick, in play, upon the track, and the wheels of one car went over his right leg just below the knee, rendering amputation necessary.

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At many railroad stations small boys are in the habit of jumping on the cars just as the train is going out or coming in to steal a ride of a few rods. The habit is a most dangerous one that railroad officials should do all in their power to prevent; parents should forbid it, and the police, so far as practicable, should punish the offence.

July 13.—Samuel Follansbee, a brakeman on the fast freight train, was engaged in the yard at depot in Bangor while the train was being made up. On the middle track were two flat cars, and a locomotive was backing down with a number of flats to be shackled with them. Follansbee stepped to couple them and carelessly stood with his back towards the engine and was caught between the bunters. The left side of his chest was crushed in; there was a slight rebound, and the poor fellow, turning, was again caught, this time on the right side. He died in a few minutes.

Portland and Ogdensburg. June 20.—Clinton Tuttle, passenger on an excursion train from North Conway to Portland, got upon the top of one of the cars. While standing up was struck by an overhead bridge one mile below Sebago Lake station. He died in about eight hours after receiving the blow.

Knox and Lincoln. February 15.—John Ham, brakeman, while on the top of a car and looking back at the train as it entered Sheepscot bridge, was struck on the head by an overhead timber which knock him from the car. He fell through the trestle work, and lodged on a pile which saved him from a further fall of forty-five feet. He was insensible when rescued and it was feared that his injuries would prove fatal.

May 24.—Leonard Miller, employee, attempting to jump on to the moving train at Nobleboro', fell upon the track, the cars passing over both his legs, mangling them in a shocking manner.

Houlton Branch. March.—A section man named Tyler was instantly killed by being caught under an engine that was thrown off the track.

Bangor and Piscataquis Railroad. April.—Joseph Fairbrother, a boy 15 years old, was at the depot at Guilford and attempted to couple a car. He caught his arm between the cars crushing it near the elbow. The surgeons, Drs. Buck and Patten, decided to take the arm off near the shoulder joint, but the boy died within within twenty-four hours after the operation.