Bridgeport, CT Train Wreck, Jul 1911 - second article

Bridgeport, CT Train Wreck, photo from familyoldphotos.com Bridgeport, CT Train Wreck, photo from familyoldphotos.com

Instantly Killed.

Engineer Curtis and Fireman W. A. Ryan were instantly killed. The huge engine bounded over one of the high girders on the viaduct, ran along the ties for a short distance, then crumpled up a second girder and plunged over the edge of the viaduct. The engine was flying through the air almost horizontally and after striking the ground ploughed ahead until it struck nose first against the massive stone wall of the viaduct, tearing out a huge hole in the masonry and throwing enormous cut stone on both sides.

A wheel was torn off in its progress, a driving rod snapped and ploughed up great holes in the earth and half way along the 150 yards that the engine traveled before striking the wall a piston head was knocked off.

Curtis jumped or was thrown off the engine long before it struck the wall and his body was found under the wreckage of the day coach. Fireman Ryan leaped as the engine struck the ground and his body was cut to pieces by a sleeper. The first men to rush to the assistance of the passengers in the wrecked coaches were the men of the St. Louis ball team. All were in pajamas and bare feet and the ground was strewn with glowing red embers from the fire box of the engine, and with wide puddles of scalding water from the boiler, but Roger Bresnahan and his men paid no heed to these trifles.

The ball players were worth a thousand ordinary helpers in an affair of this sort. The masterful Bresnahan led them and with a few curt words directed them what to do, and they did it as though on the ball field for a pennant. When the firemen and police and the first squad of physicians arrived they found the ball players working like Trojans and undoubtedly many lives were saved by them.

Bresnahan's Heroes

They hacked holed through the tops of the sleepers, hauled and dragged away the broken timbers of the day coach and wherever there appeared to be a body, living or dead, they dug away after it like hunting dogs after a rabbit. They worked amid the most weird inferno-like surroundings. The huge clouds of steam from the ruptured boiler blew across their faces in scalding waves, and from the cars came a never-ceasing moaning, wailing undertone against which were backgrounded the wild, piercing shrieks of men and women and tiny children who were being tortured slowly to death beneath the wreckage of the cars.

James Horan, son of a florist, whose home is on Fairfield avenue, a few yards beyond the viaduct, had turned in an alarm from the box on the corner as soon as he got into the street and realized what had happened. At ten minutes to 4 o'clock Captain Daniel Thompson, of the fire department of Bridgeport, arrived with two chemicals engines, a steamer and two hook and ladder trucks. A few minutes later squads of reserves from the police station began to arrive. At first it was necessary to take cut the passengers from the wreck by ladders. By this time the scene was lighted by the ghastly gray light of early dawn, and scores of men were working like mad men tearing away the sides of the cars with hooks or hacking through huge beams in order to release those who were imprisoned in the wreckage.

From every section of Bridgeport physicians, nearly all of them connected with the Emergency Hospital of the city, were hurrying to the viaduct in their automobiles and as the bodies were brought up to the top of the embankment the most seriously injured were placed in automobiles and whirled away to the hospitals. The less seriously injured were taken across to the viaduct to the lawn of Mrs. James C. Horan, only a short distance away, where every possible arrangement for caring for the victims had been made. Cots had been hurried to the scene from hospitals and medical supplies of all sorts had been collected and here simple injuries were treated. Cuts were bandaged, scalded faces and hands were cared for and the hurts were made as comfortable as possible.

At Least 100 Cared For

At least 100 were cared for here who did not go to the hospitals and who continued on eastward in a train especially made up for them. This train in fact looked like a hospital train in fact bandaged passengers huddled in the seat. The names of these were not taken by the physicians, although some of them were as badly hurt as those taken to the hospitals. The last bodies found were taken out shortly after 9 o'clock in the morning and the work of clearing away of the wreck then began. It was generally commented in Bridgeport that the railroad men did not show up until two hours after the accident, but their absence did not cause any damage for the firemen, policemen and physicians performed miracles of effective work and the circumstances were such that only a limited number could take part in the rescue of passengers imprisoned in the wrecked cars.

Of the dead taken from the cars eleven were taken to the city Morgue in the undertaking establishment of Rourke & Rourke, while the body of George R. Saunders was taken to the undertaking establishment of Henry E. Bishop. The 49 injured passengers who were so badly injured that it was deemed best they should remain under the care of physicians were taken to the Bridgeport Hospital and to St. Vincent's Hospital.

In the office of Coroner Clifford B. Wilson, one clerk was detailed to answer telephone calls and telegraph messages. Over a thousand messages by telephone and telegraph were answered during the day, the coroner giving all the available information in his possession to the anxious friends and relatives of those known to have been on the train.

Coroner Wilson spent a large part of the day at the scene of the wreck, gathering need when the inquest into the affair is begun. The inquest will not be begun until Thursday at the earliest, as there will be much to be done in the way of preliminary work. Coroner Wilson will bring out at the inquest the exact orders handed to Engineer Curtis directing him to stop at Bridgeport. It is believed to be fully established, however, that full responsibility for the accident rests upon the dead engineer.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA 12 Jul 1911


MTA train wreck in the same location 102 years later

Where is all the reporting and reporters. They all seem happy to just run with whatever the press release says. I thought of the same train accident when I heard of the new one and in fact it is the same location. Perhaps the MTA should have been more sensitive to the history of that section of track and not had so many tracks closed down.