Hartford, CT Train Wreck, Jun 1907


Passenger Train Strikes a Work Train in a Hartford Street.


Men on Work Train Believed They Had Right of Way---Railroad Officials Silent.

Special to The New York Times.

HARTFORD, Conn., June 23.---In a railroad smash-up in the home section of Hartford to-night nine workmen were killed and 35 injured, some fatally. A passenger train on the Highland Division of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad ran into a work train which was backing into the city and crushed the cars.

The work train had been out with a gang of men who were repairing tracks, and was bringing part of them from New Britain. It had sixty-five men aboard when it left that city, and had dropped about fifteen of them at intermediate points. The engineer and conductor of the work train understood that they had the right of way on Track No.2 until 7 o'clock, as the other track had been used for traffic during the day, in order to give opportunity for the repairs.

Near the Sigourney Street crossing, where there is a sweeping curve, the passenger train, which had gathered good speed as it came out of the station, appeared on track No. 2. Both engineers tried to stop, but they had little time, and the trains came together in a bad smash. Some of the trainmen and workmen jumped, but most of those on the work train were caught. The engine of the passenger train tore through the cars and piled up on top of the debris.

Dead and injured were scattered along the street for some distance, but many men were caught under the wreckage. The survivors and men from neighboring houses quickly started the work of rescue, and they were soon joined by scores of others. Fire started in the wreckage, and the firemen were summoned. After quenching the flames they became rescuers, and with axes and saws worked hard until the arrival of a squad of fifty railroad wreckers.

Soon after the wreck, while an investigation was being made to ascertain the whereabouts of the living victims, one man underneath several tons of debris was seen waving a red flag. Some one reached in with a bottle of whisky and gave him a drink. He remarked:

"The first drink in twelve years, and God knows I need it."

He had a bad gash in his neck, and is in critical condition.

The passengers on the other train were badly shaken and bruised, but none was seriously hurt. Engineer Wilson jumped in time to save himself.

At St. Francis's Hospital there are thirty-one victims to-night. The doctors say that two of them cannot live. At the Hartford Hospital there are four injured. The victims are Italians and their names could not be learned.

Coroner Calhoun was early at the scene, but he had not been able, up to a late hour, to obtain anything definite as to the cause of the wreck. The railroad officials have given out no statements, and Supt. Bullock of the Highland division, who made an investigation, could not be found afterward. It was said at the general offices that he had made no report.

There are three versions of the manner in which the wreck occurred. One is that the passenger train went out on Track No. 2 instead of No.1 The second is that the work train had the right of way until 7 o'clock, and should have had a clear track, and the passenger train was ahead of time. The third is that the men of the work train opened a switch and failed to close it.

The engineer of the work train asserts that he had the right of way and his statements are borne out by others.

The 4 o'clock express from New York was held up about half and hour directly abreast of the wreck. The 7:10 express north passed on an adjoining track soon after the accident and "side-wiped" the wreckage.

The New York Times, New York, NY 24 Jun 1907