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West Cambridge, Massachusetts

Train Wreck

September 1892


A Terrible and Fatal Accident at West Cambridge, Mass.

A Train Telescoped, With Much Loss of Life.

A through freight express train, west-bound, on the Fitchburg Railroad, ran into a passenger train standing on the out-bound track at West Cambridge (Mass.) Junction, telescoping the rear car, killing eight persons outright and injuring nearly forty others, three of whom died next day, and seven others were thought to be fatally hurt.

While standing near the crossing the express freight train, which was bound West, came thundering along, and just as the passenger train started to cross to the Watertown branch the freight train crashed into the rear of the passenger train.
The passenger train engine and the forward truck of the smoking car No. 72 had crossed over on the branch track, which left passenger cars Nos. 39 and 158 on the crossover, and No. 38, the fatal car, standing on the main westbound track.

The cars were piled up on one another in indescribable confusion, completely blocking both tracks for fully one hundred yards. As soon as the accident occurred word was dispatched by telephone to the various police stations in Boston to send surgeons to the scene.

Engineer GOODWIN, of the freight train, says: “As soon as I saw the signals on the rear of the passenger train I reversed the engine, but the momentum of the freight carried it into the passenger train. Fireman EUGENE ALEXANDER, and I stuck by our engine. I saw no signal or flagman on the track.”

C. F. LAWSON, engineer of the passenger train, and one of the best men on the Fitchburg road says: “I cannot account for the accident, except that the night was so foggy that the engineer of the freight did not see our brakeman until it was too late to stop his train.”

As soon as the crash came there was a wild rush to get out of the cars. Frantic men and women rushed about in a purposeless way, shrieking and groaning.
But soon another source of danger developed. Flames began to burst from the wrecked freight cars. Two alarms on the fire bells were hurriedly sounded, and by hard work the fire was subdued.

Then the work of rescuing the dead and injured was begun. The windows of the rear car had to be broken in and a portion of the side cut through in order to reach them.
The station was turned into an emergency hospital, to which those taken from the wreck were removed and cared for. One by one the dead bodies were brought in and laid upon the floor.

Mangled by the crash of timbers, scalded by steam and blackened by fire, they presented a sickening appearance.

Most of those on the passenger train were residents of places on the Watertown Branch, and nearly all of them were working people.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1892-09-16

Submitted & transcribed by Stu Beitler  Thank you, Stu!


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