Meriden, CT Train Wreck, Jul 1913


Cars Envelped in Steam, but Passengers Escape Injury---Driving Rods Broke.

Special to The New York Times.

MERIDEN, Conn., July 18.---The eastbound express train on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, which left New York at 5 o'clock this afternoon, was wrecked a mile west of Meriden at 7:10 o'clock to-night, when the big Pacific type locomotive left the rails and one of them had been sent flying through telegraph wires at the side of the track.

While no one was injured and only the locomotive left the rails, nearly all the passengers in the three Pullman sleeping cars and three day coaches making up the train, were badly scared. There was a stampede to get out of the train at the first shock due to the application of the emergency brakes.

The engine was of the same type as No. 1,388, which got away from Engineer Charles J. Doherty at Stamford and caused the fatal wreck on June 12. Clouds of steam came back through the cars, due to the fact that one of the broken driving levers punctured the boiler. The emergency brakes, taking hold of the cars after the mechanism on the locomotive had been damaged, brought the train to a stop in a distance of 1,200 feet, a stiff upgrade helping the brakes.

Every passenger deserted the train within a minute after it had come to a standstill. After walking a mile up the tracks to the Meriden station they were sent forward on local trains toward Boston.

The wrecked train, No. 80, was known as "The Bankers' Express." It was the favorite train of Theodore N. Vail, a Director of the New Haven road, and one of the subcommittee of six named to select a successor to President Mellen of he New Haven system. Almost every Friday for the past year Mr. Vail's private car has been attached to the Bankers' Express for his weekly inspection trip through Connecticut. But to-night, owing to the meetings of the Directors, called to consider Mr. Mellen's resignation, the private car of Mr. Vail was not attached to the train.

The first indication that there was any trouble with the big locomotive occurred as Engineer Moore was driving at about fifty-five miles and hour toward Boathill Bridge. As he was going up grade the engine was being forced to do its best in order to keep up to scheduled speed.

The engineer felt the locomotive wobble unsteadily, and then saw a section of the driving lever fly off through the telegraph wires. A moment later, as he applied the brakes at full emergency pressure, he felt the engine's wheels bumping over the ties.

The train stopped after the locomotive had torn up the rails and ties for a distance of twenty feet. It was found that the mechanism operating the block signal system had been torn out and that the signals had ceased to work. For that reason men were sent 2,000 feet to the rear of the train with torches and torpedoes. They stopped four trains one after another, which came up to the stalled train, only to be ordered back to take a cross-over switch, a mile further west.

A wrecking train which arrived from New Haven pulled the cars away from the locomotive, but found its derrick equipment insufficient to lift the heavy locomotive, but found its derrick equipment back to the rails. At midnight one track was still blocked, while the wrecking crew sought vainly to get the engine back on the track. Regular trains, operating over the southbound track, were running from an hour to three hours late.

The New York Times, New York, NY 19 Jul 1913