Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More About the 1885 Train Wreck in Pelhamville

Yesterday I began a series of postings to the Historic Pelham Blog in which I am transcribing news articles about the fatal train wreck that occurred on the New Haven main line in Pelhamville in late 1885. See Monday, September 24, 2007: The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885. Below is a transcription of another article about the accident, followed by a citation to its source.



There were a good many visitors yesterday to the scene of the railroad accident at Pelhamville, on the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railroad, on Sunday morning. New tracks had been laid, however, the splintered ties had been replaced, and trains were running regularly and on time. Down the bank, on the north side of the rails, still lay the mail car on its side, devoid of trucks and all running gear, and near it the wrecked locomotive, No. 127. The demolished tender, what there was left of it, lay near by, and its appearance told of the terrible plunge it had taken down the sixty-foot embankment. A large gang of men were at work with ropes and pulleys, tugging at the locomotive, trying to get it on to the level spot at the foot of the embankment. It will be necessary to lay a temporary track around the embankment in order to get the locomotive and mail car up on the main track.

Coroner Tice, of Mount Vernon, was on the ground at 11 o'clock, and in a house near the station commenced his inquest as to the death of the fireman, Eugene Blake, whose body was forwarded on Sunday to his home in New-Haven. Conductor Erskin C. Holcomb, the first witness, told how the accident occurred. John C. Platt, the water boy of the train, found the fireman in the cab lying upon his stomach with his feet against the furnace door. He answered a question put to him and said he was 'done for.' He was carried to the station, where he died in about 40 minutes. When first found he was conscious, but said nothing about how the accident occurred.

Charles H. Merritt, the station agent, testified that the platform which was blown on to the track, causing the accident, was built about seven years ago, under the direction of John E. Fuller, of Bridgeport. He did not know whether the platform was spiked or anchored down, but thought that there were some spikes in it. The same platform was repaired and partly replanked last Spring under the supervision of F. M. Coghill, of Harlem, now Supervisor of this section of the road. The inquest was then adjourned in order to take the testimony of the engineer and Mr. Fuller. The loss to the company by the accident is estimated at $50,000.

Superintendent Stevenson said yesterday that the idea that the station platform at Pelhamville was insecurely fastened was all nonsense. It was as securely fastened as any platform could be when one-half of it rested on posts. The trouble was the gale which blew the platform over on the track was one of the most terrific that had been known in that locality for years. The wind sweeping through the ravine struck the under side of the platform, and of course something had to give way. The same gale blew the top of a freight car completely off while the train which left Harlem early on Sunday morning was passing a point opposite Pelhamville. When the freight train reached New Rochelle a telegram recounting the accident was sent to Superintendent Stevenson, and he directed that a search be made for the missing car roof. Subsequently a train on its way to this city came upon the roof, which was lying across the up track. The train was stopped and the obstruction was removed."

Source: The Accident at Pelhamville, N. Y. Times, Dec. 29, 1885, p. 8.

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