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, June 05, 2018

A Saboteur Bombed Non-Union Railroad Bridge Construction Site at Pelham Reservoir in 1911


Introduction

It was no coincidence, most believed, that the dastardly deed happened the evening before Labor Day.  

At 8:53 p.m. on Sunday, September 3, 1911, a night watchman and a local police officer patrolling near the Pelham end of the new bridge of the New York, Westchester, and Boston Railway that crossed Pelham Reservoir and the Hutchinson River were startled by a monumental explosion beneath the bridge, construction of which was nearing completion, rocked the Pelhams and the City of Mount Vernon.  Moments after the explosion, a woman was observed running away from the scene.

According to news reports published in New York City newspapers, the explosion rocked the region.  The blast "was heard in New Rochelle, White Plains, Yonkers and all through the Bronx and the upper west side of Manhattan."  The explosion lifted night watchman Thomas McNamara and a local police officer off their feet.  According to one news account:

"the air was filled with flying bolts, bolt heads, iron washers, and large iron plates some of the latter weighing nearly 100 pounds.  The force of the explosion wrecked an entire section of the steel trestle work as the viaduct, splintered two concrete piers, twisted huge masses of steel work as though it had been sheet tin, wrecked gas fixtures and windows in many nearby houses and demolished 84 panes of glass in the factory of the Mauser Manufacturing company which is across the street from the wrecked viaduct."

The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway trestle bridge (or "viaduct" as it was called) over the Hutchinson River was nearing the very end of its construction at the time of the explosion.  Indeed, about all that needed to be done was the final riveting of some of the structural steel that already had been laid into place.  

The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway

The now-defunct New York, Westchester & Boston Railway that once ran through Pelham was also known as "The Westchester" and the "Boston-Westchester."  The railroad was constructed between about 1909 and 1912.  Portions of the electric commuter railroad line were considered a technological triumph at the time. The line opened for passenger service on May 29, 1912. Eventually it ran from the southernmost part of the Bronx near the Harlem River to Mount Vernon where it branched north to White Plains and east, through Pelham, eventually as far as Port Chester. 

The railroad was known derisively as the "Million-Dollar-A-Mile Railroad" and "J.P. Morgan's Magnificent Mistake." It reputedly never ran at a profit. Construction of the line (excluding rolling stock) reportedly cost more than $1.2 million per mile, an extraordinary sum at the time. The portion of the line that ran from the Bronx, through Pelham, to New Rochelle was built to rather lavish standards with attractive cast concrete stations that had marble interiors. Additionally, and important when it comes to the history of the line in Pelham, the line was built with no grade crossings. Consequently, many bridges, tunnels, and viaducts were built along the line including a viaduct adjacent to Pelham Reservoir, a combination station and bridge over Fifth Avenue, and the Highbrook Avenue Bridge that still stands and recently was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

I have written on numerous occasions about the Million-Dollar-A-Mile Railroad.  See, e.g.:

Wed., Nov. 23, 2016:  1910 Railroad Announcement that the "Finest and Most Artistic Bridge" Would Be Built Over Highbrook Avenue.

Mon., Sep. 26, 2016:  Battles over Razing the Fifth Avenue Station, the Highbrook Avenue Bridge, and Embankments After Failure of New York, Westchester & Boston Railway.

Thu., Sep. 22, 2016:  Pelham's Highbrook Avenue Bridge Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wed., Apr. 01, 2015:  Pelham Settled the Unpaid Tax Bills of the Defunct New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Company in 1943

Fri., Feb. 20, 2015:  Village of North Pelham Fought Plans for Construction of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway in 1909

Tue., Jan. 12, 2010:  Architectural Rendering of the Fifth Avenue Station of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railroad in North Pelham Published in 1913

Fri., Dec. 18, 2009:  The Inaugural Run of the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad Through Pelham for Local Officials in 1912

Thu., Jul. 7, 2005:  The New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad Company Begins Construction of its Railroad

Fri., Feb. 25, 2005:  Robert A. Bang Publishes New Book on The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Company

Bell, Blake A., The New York, Westchester And Boston Railway in Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 50, Dec. 17, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.

The Investigation of the Explosion

Mount Vernon Police and railroad detectives responded to the scene of the massive explosion on the evening of September 3, 1911 within ten minutes.  It was immediately apparent that a massive explosive had been placed at the base of structural support pillars and detonated.  Investigators were amazed by two things:  (1) no one in the area was killed or injured; and (2) though damaged, the massive four-track viaduct withstood the blast without collapsing.  The investigation began immediately.  

Rumors circulated immediately that the blast was the work of union sympathizers who protested the fact that the American Bridge Company that was involved in construction of the bridge was a so-called "open shop."   An open shop is a workplace in which workers are not required to join or to support financially a union as a condition of hiring or continued employment (unlike a so-called "closed shop").

The rumors were not far-fetched.  During the previous three years there had been two other bombings of railroad bridges on which non-union workers were engaged in the Pelham region along (one near Baychester on May 15, 1908 and another at Whitlock and Garrison Avenues in the Bronx on August 16, 1909).  Moreover, the nation had experienced a sad wave of such bombings perhaps the most notorious of which was the so-called "Los Angeles Times Bombing" in which union sympathizers who were supporting a nationwide strike against the American Bridge Company -- the very company that was building the viaduct at Pelham Reservoir at the time of the explosion -- dynamited the Los Angeles Times building killing 21 newspaper employees and injuring 100 more on October 1, 1910.

The Los Angeles Times Bombing was done by a union member who belonged to the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers named James B. McNamara.  He and his brother, John J. McNamara, were arrested in April, 1911 for the bombing.  According to one account:  "Their trial became a cause célèbre for the American labor movement. J.B. admitted to setting the explosive, and was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. J.J. was sentenced to 15 years in prison for bombing a local iron manufacturing plant, and returned to the Iron Workers union as an organizer."  "Los Angeles Times Bombing" in Wikipedia:  The Free Encyclopedia (visited Jun. 3, 2018).

By the early teens the nation had experienced more than eighty bombings of open-shop construction sites, mostly involving such railroad bridges under construction.  Given the similarity of the Pelham Reservoir bombing to such so-called "open-shop bombings," federal authorities quickly became involved in the investigation.  

Federal investigators finally focused their intention on a union sympathizer identified as George Davis, alias George McDonald.  For more than two years investigators assembled the evidence against Davis.  Finally, on October 2, 1913 they arrested him. 

The same day they distributed to the media a printed statement they said was his confession to the Pelham Reservoir Bombing.  According to the confession, the Pelham Reservoir Bombing was part of the broader "McNamara dynamite conspiracy" to bomb open-shop construction sites across the nation.  The printed confession further stated that he met with Frank Ryan, President of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers and, in that meeting, "the job was planned for Mount Vernon."  

Incredibly, it turned out, that Davis was given a bag full of dynamite five days before the explosion but could not come up with fuses or blasting caps to complete the job so he pitched the dynamite into the Hudson River.  Soon thereafter, the confession claimed, Frank C. Webb also of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers provided him with another bag of dynamite.  The confession further claimed that although Frank C. Webb promised George Davis $200 to blow up the Pelham Reservoir Bridge, Webb only paid him $80 for the job.

Davis was arraigned before United States Commissioner Shields and waived examination.  He reportedly was taken to Indianapolis where he will be given a further hearing.  Within a few short weeks the damage to the viaduct at Pelham Reservoir (which totaled about $5,000) was repaired and played no role in delaying the opening in 1912 of the Million-Dollar-A-Mile Railroad.



Detail of Undated Post Card, Ca. 1911, Showing View to the East of the
New Trestle Carrying the New York, Boston and Westchester Railway
Over Portion of the Pelham Reservoir and Hutchinson River with Children
Fishing.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *         *          *

"BOMB SET OFF UNDER VIADUCT
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ATTEMPT TO BLOW UP BIG NON-UNION JOB IN MT. VERNON.
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Watchman Saw a Woman Running Away Before Explosion -- Bridge Weakened for 400 Feet, but Not Damaged Beyond Repair -- Was Almost Completed.

Mount Vernon was startled from its Sunday evening calm at 9 o'clock last night by an explosion which rattled windows, shook dishes from their places and brought hundreds of people into the streets to find out what had happened.  

The explosion had been caused by a bomb placed under the new steel viaduct of the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad which spans Hutchinson Creek not far from Columbus avenue.  

This viaduct is about 1,000 feet long and runs from near Columbus avenue to Pelham.  It is constructed for four tracks and at some places is 100 feet above the ground.  At intervals of twenty feet the viaduct is supported by buttresses of four steel pillars placed parallel with each other on a concrete base.  The bomb had been put near the base of a group of pillars twenty feet east of Columbus avenue, near the best residential section of Mount Vernon.

The force of the explosion blew out the four pillars near which it occurred and weakened the bridge for 200 feet on either side.  Pieces of steel were sent twenty feet or more and windows of the Mauser Manufacturing Company's plant, 100 feet away, were broken by the force of the blast.

Two night watchmen who are employed to watch the bridge were at the Pelham end when the bomb went off.  They had not seen anybody pass for half an hour.  The last person coming that way was a woman who was running.  Police and others who searched the debris with lanterns found no trace of the bomb.  It is thought that the machine was one of the timed explosives such as was used in the recent Los Angeles explosions and that those who placed it intended to wreck the pillar next to the one actually blown out, in which the entire bridge would have fallen.

The viaduct was built for the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad, a new line owned by the New York, New Haven and Hartford company, and the American Bridge Company, which employs non-union men, was doing the work.  It was started last June and was nearly completed, only a little riveting on the upper part of the structure remaining to be done.  The contractors had been fearful and had placed extra guards on the structure.

No official last night cared to give an estimate of the damage done by the explosion.

The Mount Vernon police made an investigation and said they had learned that three men were seen running away from the bridge shortly before the explosion took place.  The detectives detailed on the case said it appeared as though the dynamiters found their bomb was going to explode sooner than they anticipated and left it further away from the concrete foundation than they had planned.  The police did not believe the damage to the bridge would be great.

This is the second recent dynamiting affecting the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad.  The other, less serious, happened July 22, 1910, when a temporary wooden bridge spanning their tracks in Pelham Parkway, The Bronx, was destroyed by a blast of dynamite.  It was supposed at the time that the blast was set off by vandals.

The New York, New Haven and Hartford line has suffered at least twice within the last three years when their bridge to carry the Baychester road over the tracks near Baychester station was dynamited on May 15, 1908, and on August 16, 1909, when a bridge under construction by the Pittsburgh Construction Company, an open shop concern, was dynamited at Whitlock and Garrison avenues, The Bronx."

Source:  BOMB SET OFF UNDER VIADUCT -- ATTEMPT TO BLOW UP BIG NON-UNION JOB IN MT. VERNON -- Watchman Saw a Woman Running Away Before Explosion -- Bridge Weakened for 400 Feet, but Not Damaged Beyond Repair -- Was Almost Completed, The Sun [NY, NY], Sep. 4, 1911, Vol. LXXIX, No. 4, p. 1, col. 5 (NOTE:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).

"BRIDGE BLOWN UP; LABOR TO BE BLAMED
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Explosion Shakes Mount Vernon -- Hints Thrown Out of 'Labor War.'
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New York's turn now at a 'labor war.'  From hints made last night it would not be surprising to red of 'another Los Angeles case' in the capitalist press today.

Mount Vernon was startled out of its Sunday evening calm at 9 o'clock last night by a thundering explosion which rattled windows, shook dishes to the floor, and brought hundreds of people into the streets to find out what had happened.  

The noise had been caused by an explosion under the new steel viaduct of the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad, which spans Hutchinson Creek, not far from Columbus avenue.

This viaduct is about 1,000 feet long, and runs from near Columbus avenue to Pelham.  It is constructed for four tracks, and stands at some places 100 feet above the ground.  At intervals of twenty feet the viaduct is supported by buttresses of four steel pillars, placed parallel with each other on a concrete base.  The police say a bomb had been placed near the base of a group of pillars twenty feet east from Columbus avenue, near the best residential section of Mount Vernon.

The forces of the explosion blew out the battery of four pillars near which it occurred and weakened the bridge for 200 feet on either side.  Pieces of steel were blown twenty feet or more, and the windows of the Mauser Manufacturing Company's plant, one hundred feet away, were broken by the force of the blast.  

Two night watchmen who are employed to watch the bridge were at the Pelham end, but had not seen anybody pass for half an hour.  The last person coming that way was a woman, who was running.  Police and others who searched the debris with lanterns found no trace of any bomb.

The viaduct was built for the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad, a new line owned by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, and the Americans Bridge Company, owned by the Steel Trust, was doing the work.  It wast started last June and was nearly completed, only a little riveting on the upper part of the structure remained to be done.

The reporters were told last night that the contractors had been 'expecting trouble' and had placed extra guards on the structure.

Contractors' representatives who talked to the reporters last night were careful not to make any charges, but it was pretty evident that the representatives of the capitalist press were going to write something about 'labor bombs.'

Among those first to inspect the effects of the explosion were Mayor Edwin W. Fiske and Assemblyman William S. Coffey.  They expressed the opinion that the work of destruction was carried out because of labor disagreement.  It was said by Mayor Fiske that the new 3d street station was being constructed by union labor, while the trestle, a thousand feet distant, was being completed by non-union men.  

Chief Foley expressed the opinion tonight that nitroglycerine was probably used by those who set off the blast."

Source:  BRIDGE BLOWN UP; LABOR TO BE BLAMED -- Explosion Shakes Mount Vernon -- Hints Thrown Out of "Labor War.", The Call [NY, NY], Sep. 4, 1911, Vol. 4, No. 247, p. 1, col. 6.  

"VIADUCT WRECKERS HURRIED
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MAN WITH A BAG AND TWO OTHERS HASTENED AWAY.
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Care Taken in Mount Vernon Explosion Not to Injure the New Haven's Tracks -- Stranger With Satchel Went to Viaduct Shortly Before Crash.

It will take about a month to repair the damage done to the new steel viaduct of the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad as the result of the attempt to wreck it at Columbus avenue, Mount Vernon, on Sunday night.  The authorities are convinced that nitroglycerine was used to blow up the structure.  As to who was responsible for the job there is as yet no definitive evidence, although it resembles in many respects other attempts which have been made to destroy and interfere with work being done by the American Bridge Company.

This company, which runs an open shop and has been operating contrary to the ideas of the ironworkers' union for a long time and has suffered extensively from explosions, has the contract for building the viaduct.  But no official of the company would say yesterday that the union was responsible for what happened on Sunday, because there is no actual evidence on which to base such an assertion.  But the officials did think it was peculiar that every now and then some one attempted to wreck an enterprise of the company.

A crowd stood around all day yesterday at the scene of the explosion which went off with such a bang on Sunday night that all of Mount Vernon was disturbed.  Every one was anxious to find out what actually had happened.  The spectators saw steel girders that had been twisted and warped.  The crossbeams between two pillars had been blown ten feet away.  Bolts had been torn from their fastenings.  A chunk of steel had been swept a block and a half through the air and into the house of Mrs. Knobloch, who lives on Glen avenue.  Another rivet had been ripped out of one beam and driven tightly into another.

The viaduct, which has been constructed for four tracks, is supported at intervals of about twenty feet by four steel columns which have been moulded parallel into a concrete base.  From below Columbus avenue the viaduct stretches over Hutchinson creek to Pelham.  The nitroglycerine (for the police are certain this is what was used) was set off at the base of a pillar at the third tier from Columbus avenue.  This is considered significant.  An official of the American Bridge Company pointed out that had the explosion occurred nearer the Columbus avenue archway, on which the New York, New Haven and Hartford company has its tracks, it might have damaged this structure and caused inconvenience to the town of Mount Vernon and the railroad officials.  As it turned out only the plans of the American Bridge Company to finish the viaduct at a certain time have been interfered with.  

While no written threats have been made to the American Bridge Company, Chief of Police Foley of Mount Vernon said yesterday that he knew that the company had received intimations that there might be trouble.  As a result several watchmen had been employed on the job.  Some of them hda been discharged for various reasons, but the police did not consider that any grievance they might have had would have been sufficient for them to blow up the structure.

When the explosion occurred at 9 o'clock on Sunday evening Watchman Thomas McNamara and Policeman Wrenn were talking about a hundred feet away.  They had seen nothing to make them suspicious and the first they knew that anything wrong was going on was when the explosion lifted them from their feet.  They say they saw no one leave the dark patch underneath the structure and they saw no one enter it.  Yet there was at least one other person in the neighborhood who did.

From dusk Mrs. John Hertzel had been sitting on her stoop at 118 Haven avenue.  This is on the other side of the viaduct from the Columbus station.  Few persons come through this street, so few that Mrs. Hertzel and her mother, who was in the house, took notice of what was going on.  Mrs. Hertzel noticed about an hour before the explosion two men loitering at the corner.  After a while they slipped away or she no longer paid any attention to them, and then a stranger came carrying a long thin bag such as physicians take on their visits to the sick.

The light wasn't good, but Mrs. Hertzel remarked that the man was well set up, weighed about 170 pounds and was about 5 feet 10 inches tall.  She couldn't see his features and she doesn't think she could identify him if she saw him again, but she thought if peculiar that he wore a coat that dropped below his knees.  It was not a frock coat but might have been a raincoat.  She wondered at this, for it was not a night that a person would wear a raincoat.

The man, walked swiftly into the darkness underneath the viaduct.  He had only a few feet to go to get to the pillar that was blown up later.

Mrs. Hertzel thinks the stranger might have been under the viaduct for ten minutes when she saw him come out.  He still carried the bag, but he did not hurry.  Neither did he tarry.  Mrs. Hertzel said to her mother that she could not understand why a man should walk under the viaduct carrying a bag and return so soon, as he could not have gone much further than to the New York, New Haven and Hartford station and back.  Perhaps he was inquiring about a train.

When Mrs. Hertzel picked herself up five minutes later she began to have other ideas as to what the man had been doing.  The chair had been knocked from under her by the explosion and windows in the house had been smashed.  Her mother was hysterical.  Neighbors began to yell for help.  Glass from seventy-one windows in the factory of the Mauser Manufacturing Company on the corner clattered in the street.  Mrs. Knobloch on Glen avenue saw something zip through her front window and when she got courage to find out what had happened she found a piece of steel which had been painted red.  It had come from the blasted pillar.

Just a few minutes before the uproar Mrs. Schwartz, who has a saloon on Hartford avenue, about a block and a half away, saw two men hurrying past her saloon.  Few persons use this street in the evening.  The men were disturbed and somewhat excited.  One of them said, 'We've had one hell of a close shave this time.'  'You bet,' said his companion, 'but we'll get 'em the next time.'  Bang went the explosion.  The men scooted, and Mrs. Schwartz hustled into the saloon to make sure that the explosion had not carried away the cash drawer.

When the police and some of the railroad officials came they began to paw over the wreckage for traces of a bomb.  They didn't find any.  What they found was that the concrete at the base of the pillar had been smeared as if with oil.  There was also about twenty feet of insulated fuse, the kind that is used when dynamiting is done under water.  The fuse had been burned out.  The experts said it would burn about two feet a minute.  It was the only telltale piece of evidence left, that and the wreckage.  As there were no signs of a battery or a bomb Chief of Police Foley and an engineer for the American Bridge Company decided that nitro-glycerine had been used.

It was the engineer for the company who pointed out that evidently precautions had been taken not to damage the archway over Columbus avenue.  At the same time greater damage could have been done to the viaduct had a pillar been blown up about a block above, where the structure is about 100 feet high.  Here, too, the work has been finished and everything riveted, whereas near Columbus avenue bolts had not been fitted to all the beams.

An official of the American Bridge Company who plainly disliked publicity -- it was the thirteenth attempt which had been made to wreck jobs of the company -- said that they had had no trouble with the men.  He said the company insisted upon the open shop and employed union or non-union men as it saw fit.  There were no clues as to the wreckers.  He had his own ideas about it, but he was not expressing them.  Enough had been printed about it anyway.  The company paid union wages and more, and that was all there was to it.

The railroad detectives and the police came to the conclusion that the original plan of the wreckers was to put nitroglycerine at the base of each of the four pillars and by knocking them down pull down the whole structure.  Otherwise they would not have begun work so early, as there are always persons going to and from the Columbus avenue station.  The detectives believe that the men stationed at each end of the plot had become scared, probably because the policeman and the watchman hung around, and warned the man with the bag that he had better hasten his operations and get away.

Mayor Fiske of Mount Vernon and President L. S. Miller of the New York, Boston and Westchester Railroad, looked over the damaged structure yesterday.  Mayor Fiske said that he was going to do everything to get the men responsible.  The viaduct, which is almost completed, will be patched up in about a month, President Miller thought.

'The damage is not great,' said President Miller, 'probably between $2,000 and $3,000.  It will not delay the operation of the road.  I have not talked with the officials of the American Bridge Company -- this is a holiday -- and I would not care to express whatever opinion I have as to the explosion."

Source:  VIADUCT WRECKERS HURRIED -- MAN WITH A BAG AND TWO OTHERS HASTENED AWAY -- Care Taken in Mount Vernon Explosion Not to Injure the New Haven's Tracks -- Stranger With Satchel Went to Viaduct Shortly Before Crash, The Sun [NY, NY], Sep. 5, 1911, p. 3, cols. 4-6.

"VIADUCT ON THE NEW ROAD WAS BLOWN UP ON SUNDAY EVENING
-----
Bomb Placed on Work, East of Columbus Ave., Wrecks Structure There and May Cause Serious Delay in the Construction
-----
City Shaken by Terrific Explosion -- Police Said to Be Working on Clues -- Now Believed to Be Due to Industrial Troubles
-----

An explosion of nitro-glycerine at the Columbus avenue viaduct of the New York, Westchester and Boston railroad, the circumstances surrounding which look greatly like those of other construction explosions which have happened throughout the country within the past few years, all of which have been traced to industrial difficulties, occurred at 8:53 o'clock on Sunday night.  For several minutes the air was filled with flying bolts, bolt heads, iron washers, and large iron plates some of the latter weighing nearly 100 pounds.  The force of the explosion wrecked an entire section of the steel trestle work as the viaduct, splintered two concrete piers, twisted huge masses of steel work as though it had been sheet tin, wrecked gas fixtures and windows in many nearby houses and demolished 84 panes of glass in the factory of the Mauser Manufacturing company which is across the street from the wrecked viaduct.  The police claim to be working on a clue which they hope will lead to the identity of the wreckers.

The entire city was shaken by the terrific explosion which caused probably $5,000 damage to the ironwork and masonry of the construction, beside holding up the work of completing the road through Mount Vernon for some time longer, entailing a much larger loss.  Officials and engineers of the road came here yesterday, and they said that the men employed at the point where the explosion occurred by the American Construction company were non-union men while the men on the Third street portion of the job were union men, and there had been some conflict between the union men and the contractors about the employment of non-union men.

The story of the explosion is that at 8:53 o'clock, Policeman Edward Wren called up headquarters and reported that at the Columbus avenue viaduct there had been an upheaval.  At about the same time Henry Doell, a night watchman at the Maurer factory reported the same explosion.  Then came frantic telephone calls from people living in that section of the city, complaining that their windows were blown out and that their gas fixtures were twisted off.

Chief Foley and several plain clothes and uniformed policemen hurried to the place to find the neighborhood little short of terror stricken.  Order was quickly restored, and the police began immediately to look for clues to the wreckers.

They learned from Mrs. E. C. Hetzel, of 118 Haven avenue, which is near the viaduct and whose windows command, a view of the approach to the bridge, that she saw a man carrying a suit case go under the viaduct just a few minutes before the explosion.  There were other people on the scene yesterday who told of having seen five men and a woman under the viaduct, and o having seen them run away just before the explosion.
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(Continued on Page 11).

VIADUCT
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(Continued From Page One.)
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The bomb was set in a 'pocket' of the third steel pier east of Columbus avenue, and was evidently touched off with a time fuse.  A piece of the fuse was found on the ground yesterday morning by Lieutenant Atwell and another piece was found by Detective Clancy.  The entire section of iron work which was connected with the pier in which the bomb was set was blown out, and hung in mid-air as a result of the shock.  Two of the stone piers on which the steel uprights were set were blown almost to atoms and pieces of steel plate, bolts, and bolt heads were hurled in all directions for distances of a half mile or more.  All of the windows on the Columbus avenue side of the Mauser factory were blown in, and a large piece of steel plate weighing 75 pounds was hurled through a second story window on the side of the factory which faces the railroad viaduct.  The entire window sash was carried away.  There was another of the steel plates which landed in the yard of the Mauser plant about two feet from one of the windows.

It was believed by Engineer White, employed by the American Construction company, yesterday, that the roadbed was not injured, and that the greater part of the damage was confined to the immediate vicinity of the aqueduct.

Another of the construction company's engineers said he thought the work was an amateur job, because of the fact that whoever did it, chose as the place for the lodgment of the bomb, a place where the ironwork was not riveted together.  This man thought that if the job had been done by parties who really understood the wrecking business, the explosive would have been placed in the pocket of the steel pier to which all of the other iron work of that section was securely fastened, as then the force of the explosion would have carried away and twisted much more of the iron work that it did when it was placed in an unfastened pier.  However, the ironwork of the pier where it occurred, was twisted out of shape, and blackened; some portions of that part of the structure which was not injured by the force of the explosion itself, were twisted out of shape by the heavy blows struck by the loosened iron which flew through the air and battered against them.

A large steel plate, weighing about 50 pounds and twisted about like a piece of thin metal, was picked up 1,400 feet east of the place where the explosion took place.  This heavy plate was found on Beechwood avenue, and is now at the Argus office.

At 47 Glen avenue, which is the home of William R. Knobloch more than a half mile from the viaduct, a piece of iron weighing at least a pound cut a hole through the wire screen in a second story window and landed with great force on the floor of the room.  The police are now in possession of this piece of iron, and from its oily surface, and peculiar appearance they are inclined to believe that it is part of the bomb which did the damage.

Bolt heads weighing four ounces each and pieces of steel bolts, besides smaller pieces of iron were picked up in great quantities by souvenir seekers soon after the explosion, and yesterday morning.  All day long the place was a mecca for seight [sic] seekers, and newspaper en.  The police were kept busy keeping the crowds back or the lines which had been stretched about the real danger gone.

Mayor Fiske and Water Commissioner Cullen, drove in the latter's automobile to the place within ten minutes after the explosion on Sunday night, and the mayor did much in establishing order, and restoring confidence to the terror stricken people of that section of the city.  It seemed to be the opinion of the most of these people that an earthquake had occurred and might be repeated.

Bad as the dastardly work of the wreckers was, it had some fortunate features.  No one was injured, that is something.  Had it happened at a time when a train was discharging passengers nearby a loss of life might have followed.  The greatest property loss was with the American Construction company, in charge of some of the iron work of the new railroad.  On Haven avenue, within a stone's throw of the viaduct, are several houses and it was more than fortunate that the heavy bolts and iron plates did not strike any of these.

No real estimate of the amount of the damage done could be given yesterday, though it was the opinion of several of the road's construction engineers who were making an inspection of the premises and the wrecked section of the super-structure that it would cost the company fully $5,000, to repair the damage, besides a great loss of time.

Chief Folley and the police were at work on the case within 10 minutes after the occurrence, and they hope to be able to bring the criminals to light within a short time.

The stories of many of the New York papers that a woman with a suitcase was seen to go under the viaduct but a few minutes before the explosion occurred, were openly scouted by experienced parties yesterday, who roundly criticized the exaggerated accounts of affair.  One of the engineers said, 'The thing was bad enough, but we are all glad that it was no worse, and we do not see why New York newspaper men come here, look the thing over, without asking a question of a person in authority and then go back and write a thriller which is without facts.'

An attempt was made this morning to get into communication with President Miller, of the Westchester road, to secure his estimate of the damage done, and of the length of time the road construction would be delayed.  But Mr. Miller was attending a director's meeting and could not be disturbed."

Source:  VIADUCT ON THE NEW ROAD WAS BLOWN UP ON SUNDAY EVENING -- Bomb Placed on Work, East of Columbus Ave., Wrecks Structure There and May Cause Serious Delay in the Construction -- City Shaken by Terrific Explosion -- Police Said to Be Working on Clues -- Now Believed to Be Due to Industrial Troubles, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 5, 1911, No. 6632, p. 1, cols. 1-2 & p. 11, col. 1.  

"BOMB EXPLOSION WRECKING VIADUCT CAUSED BY 2 MEN
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Only Loose Bolt on Prevented Much Greater Damage to New Railroad.
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NO WOMAN CONCERNED
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American Bridge Co., Open Shop, Think Outrage Was to Emphasize Labor Day.
-----

Officials of the American Bridge Company and the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad and Mayor Fiske of Mt. Vernon ascribe the attempt at destruction of the new viaduct at Columbus avenue, Mt. Vernon, last night to labor troubles.  The dynamiting of the viaduct was a job similar in execution to many others of which the American Bridge Company, an open shop institution, has been the victim.

Two tall, broad shouldered and active men who were seen in the vicinity of the scene of the explosion previous to and during the destructive dynamite blast are believed to have placed the bomb and set it off.  The report that a woman was implicated in the affair was disproved today.  The Mt. Vernon police found the woman who was seen running away from the aqueduct immediately after the explosion.  She lives in the vicinity, and was on her way to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad station to meet her husband who was to arrive on a train.  The bomb went off just as she passed under the viaduct.  Naturally she ran.  Had the explosion resulted as planned she would probably have been killed.

INTENDED TO CAUSE COLLAPSE OF 200 FEET SECTION.

The design of the dynamiters was undoubtedly to cause the collapse of a section of the viaduct about 200 feet long.  The point selected for the explosion is one where the iron work has recently been placed and has not yet been riveted.  The explosive was placed in a hollow steel pillar, one of four on a bed of concrete.  These sets of four pillars are placed at 200 feet intervals.

The explosive charge was powerful and the concussion was terrific.  But because of the loosely bolted character of the work the resistance was not sufficient to shake down the viaduct.  The damage was confined to the pillars.  Work will be delayed probably a month.

It is believed that the explosion was timed for a double purpose -- to emphasize Labor Day on the minds of the executives of the American Bridge Company and to spoil the projected trial trip of an electric car over a portion of the line to-day.  Both purposes were successful.

WHAT ONE WOMAN NEARBY SAW FROM HER PORCH.

Mrs. John Hertzel, who lives near the scene of the explosion, gave valuable information to-day.  She said she was sitting on the porch of her home a little after 8 o'clock yesterday evening when she saw two big men carrying what looked to be valises or tool bags crossing a vacant lot and going in the direction of the viaduct.  The men disappeared in the shadows.  

About an hour later Mrs. Hertzel saw the same two men.  They were walking rapidly away from the viaduct.  She watched them until they reached the corner of Columbus and Hubbard avenues.  They stopped there and appeared to be waiting.

Then came the explosion, which rocked the whole neighborhood.  The two men walked rapidly west in Hubbard avenue.  Mrs. Hertzel connected them with the explosion when she heard what had happened.

Policeman Wrenn and Thomas McNamara, a watchman employed by the New York, Westchester & Boston Railroad, were talking under the viaduct at the time of the explosion.  They saw the two men standing at Columbus and Hubbard avenues and their description of the pair tallies with that of Mrs. Hertzel.

DAMAGE DONE WITHIN A RADIUS OF 200 FEET.

The explosion broke windows within a radius of 200 feet.  Serious damage was done to the plant of the Mauser Manufacturing Company, nearby.  The noise of the explosion was heard in New Rochelle, White Plains, Yonkers and all through the Bronx and the upper west side of Manhattan.  

Operatives from the William J. Burns Detective Agency were out on the case this morning.  They are men experienced in investigating dynamite outrages on bridge work and are following up the clues furnished by Mrs. Hertzel and the policeman and watchman.

Burns is in Chicago to-day.  He had planned to remain there until Wednesday and reach New York Thursday, but the Mount Vernon explosion may change his plans.

SOME EIGHTY CASES OF DYNAMITING AGAINST OPEN SHOPS.

'There are some significant facts in connection with the dynamiting of the railroad viaduct at Mount Vernon,' said Walter Drew, general counsel for the National Erectors' Association, No. 25 West Thirty-second street, when asked by an Evening World reporter for his opinion of the explosion.

'The open shop movement on the part of the erectors of structural iron and steel which to date has been accompanied by eighty odd dynamitings on work in course of construction originated in a strike against the American Bridge Company over a contract for a bridge on the railroad affected in this case, the New York, New Haven & Hartford.  That strike was called to compel the American Bridge Company to cancel a sub-contract it had made with the Boston Bridge Works, because the union did not consider the latter company as fair.  Refusal to cancel this contract was followed by a general strike against the American Bridge Company all over the country, and this strike has never been declared off.

'It is a coincidence that the latest outrage was directed against work of the same company which was the object of the original strike order.

THERE HAD BEEN RUMORS OF ANOTHER OUTRAGE TO COME.

'In view of the charges made repeatedly by your association in connection with the previous explosions, how could this particular dynamiting have been accomplished with the McNamaras and McGonical in jail at Los Angeles?' was asked Mr. Drew.

'It is to be determined by proper legal action whether the dynamitings that have occurred can be laid at the door of the McNamaras or any one else, and it would be improper for me even by inference to make charges against men facing trial,' replied Mr. Drew.  'It is proper to state, however, that in the six weeks preceding the arrests of these men there were eight dynamitings of open shop iron work, most of them of exceeding disastrous character, while since that time until yesterday there had been none.  Owing to the significance of this fact persistent rumors have reached me to the effect that another dynamiting outrage was to be expected.'

The Westchester County dynamite explosion is the thirteenth occurring upon the work of the American Bridge Company, which handles 75 per cent. of the trade.

The explosion of last night is the second recent dynamiting of property of the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad.  In July of last year a temporary wooden bridge over the tracks in Pelham Parkway, the Bronx was blown up.  The New York, New Haven & Hartford line has also suffered twice in a like manner.  In May, 1908, a bridge near Baychester station was dynamited, and in August, 1909, a bridge under construction was blown up at Whitlock and Garrison avenue the Bronx."

Source:  BOMB EXPLOSION WRECKING VIADUCT CAUSED BY 2 MEN -- Only Loose Bolton Prevented Much Greater Damage to New Railroad -- NO WOMAN CONCERNED -- American Bridge Co., Open Shop, Think Outrage Was to Emphasize Labor Day, The Evening World [NY, NY], Sep. 4, 1911, p. 6, cols. 1-2.

"PROGRESS MADE BY NEW ROAD
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NORTH AVENUE BRIDGE RIVETED AND PAINTED. -- QUAKER RIDGE BRIDGE WORK PROGRESSING FAVORABLY.
-----

The better weather last week enabled the contractors of the New York, Westchester and Boston to make a much better showing than during the previous week of rain.

Excavation has been started for the abutment at the south end of the viaduct north of 174th street.  Repairs to the concrete pier of Columbus Avenue viaduct which was damaged by the explosion are under way.  The erection of steel on the Spring street bridge has been started and it has been completed on the North avenue bridge and it is now being riveted and painted.  On the White Plains branch the abatements have been completed for the Mamaroneck avenue bridge and the bridge over Hutchinson river is in place.  Forms are being erected for the Bryant avenue arch and the New Rochelle Avenue grading and the dressing of the cut at North avenue and Quaker Ridge Road bridge is progressing rapidly.  3,577 feet of track was laid during the week.

Progress of the work on the road shows every indication that the prediction of its management as to its completion and early operation will be instilled."

Source:  PROGRESS MADE BY NEW ROAD -- NORTH AVENUE BRIDGE RIVETED AND PAINTED. -- QUAKER RIDGE BRIDGE WORK PROGRESSING FAVORABLY, New Rochelle Pioneer, Sep. 16, 1911, Vol. 53, No. 25, p. 1, col. 1.  

"CONFESSES HE BLEW UP COLUMBUS AVE. BRIDGE
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George Davis Arrested After Two Years' Search, Says the Mount Vernon Job was Planned with President Ryan and Frank C. Webb -- Part of Plot to Help McNamaras
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First Attempt Failed, but Five Days Later He Came Here After Receiving New Supply and Bridge Was Blown Up -- District Attorney Gives Out Statement
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(By United Press)

New York, Oct. 2. -- Following the arrest today of George Davis, sought for two years by federal agents, Assistant United States District Attorney Wood gave out a printed statement, which he said was a complete confession by Davis, admitting participation in the McNamara dynamite conspiracy and revealing many new details.

In his confession, Davis says:  'He had a conference in New York with President Ryan of the Ironworkers, and that the job was planned for Mount Vernon..  Frank C. Webb instructed Davis to go ahead with the 'job.'  Its nature is not disclosed.  Davis got the dynamite from a black grip filled with some 25 or 30 pounds, but couldn't get the caps or fuses, therefore the dynamite was thrown in the Hudson.  Five days later he had a further talk with Webb about procuring more dynamite, and after they had received a new supply, which caused the explosion in Mount Vernon on the night of September 3, 1911.

He brought the empty grip back to New York and left it there.  Davis got $80 for the job, although Webb had agreed to pay him $200.  One other sensational statement credited to Davis is that he had been selected to head a gang of fifteen dynamiters assigned to blow up every non-union building they could find in the country.  The confession states that this plan was conceived while the McNamaras were on trial in Los Angeles and was designed to show that the McNamaras were not doing the dynamiting.

The confession set forth that the plan was cut short by the action of the McNamaras in pleading guilty. 

Davis was arraigned this afternoon before United States Commissioner Shields and waived examination.  He will be taken at once to Indianapolis where he will be given a further hearing.  Davis used the alias of 'George McDonald.'  

In his statement, Assistant District Attorney Wood told of a conversation Davis had with some men in St. Louis in which it was suggested that 'we ought to get Burns, Drew and Bagdorf.'  The statement, continues:  'After Davis returned to New York he met Webb, who said:  'A price has been fixed on Bagdorf for $3,000 and $5,000 for Burns.  How would you be on earning this money?'  asked Webb, of Davis, and Davis said:

'I have no money for expenses and I don't know who Burns is.  Then Webb said we can fix it up to advance the expenses.  Burns is out at San Francisco now.  You can go out and trail him about and take a chance to get it.  Davis said that he did not dare to go into any such business as that.'"

Source:  CONFESSES HE BLEW UP COLUMBUS AVE. BRIDGE -- George Davis Arrested After Two Years' Search, Says the Mount Vernon Job was Planned with President Ryan and Frank C. Webb -- Part of Plot to Help McNamaras -First Attempt Failed, but Five Days Later He Came Here After Receiving New Supply and Bridge Was Blown Up -- District Attorney Gives Out Statement, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Oct. 2, 1913, No. 7264, p. 1, cols. 1-7.


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