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Chester, Massachusetts

Train Wreck

September 8, 1893



The Locomotive Got Across Safely, But Four Wagner Cars Plunged Into the Stream Many Persons Killed or Injured The Scene at the Wreck.

The Chicago limited express train for Boston broke through a frail iron bridge on the Boston and Albany Railroad one mile and a half east of Chester, Mass., at noon, and four Wagner cars were crushed, killing fourteen or fifteen persons, fatally injuring several others, while at least twenty were badly hurt. The wreck is the worst ever known on the road. The bridge was being strengthened for the big locomotives, and the workingmen who were putting on the plates were at dinner when the crash came. The locomotive passed over the structure, but was smashed, the water tank being thrown a long distance.

The buffet car, two sleepers and a dining car were smashed to kindling wood when they struck the stream twenty feet below, but two day coaches and a smoker in the rear did not leave the track. The dead are:
MISS EMMA DELERTY, Columbus, Ohio; M. C. IVES, Chicago; T. EVERETT, Sedgewick; PALMER, express messenger; JAMES McMASTERS, Springfield, brakeman; J. H. MURRAY, Greenbush, N. Y., baggage master; GEORGE H. MORSE, Boston, Wagner car conductor; J. C. STACKPOLE, Hartford, Conn.; R. C. HITCHCOCK, Bellows Falls, Vt.; J. E. DeWITT, Portland, Me., President of the Union Mutual Life Insurance Company; THOMAS KELLY, Boston, blanket manufacturer; MISS SUSIE CUTTING, Boston; MRS. C. BISBORN, Philadelphia; MRS. J. S. WINCHELL, Oneida, N. Y.; Unknown woman, plainly dressed, apparently about twenty-five years of age.

Several of the wounded were hurt so seriously it was thought they would die.
The train was seven minutes late at Chester, and the railroad hands say it was going at the rate of twenty miles an hour when it struck the first of the two spans across the Westfield River. The locomotive seemed to leap across the bridge, as the trusses collapsed and fell over to the south.

The bridge was built in 1874. It was a two-span lattice structure 221 feet long. It stretched across the west branch of the Westfield River.

The ill-fated train was one of the fastest expresses on the road, stopping only at Pittsfield in its run from Albany, N. Y., to Springfield, Mass. It carries the largest engine and best cars of any train running west of Springfield.

The scene of the accident is but a short distance below Chester, and is just below the steep grade going up the mountain. Word was carried to the village promptly and the people did their best to care for the injured.

Two wrecking trains left Springfield immediately after the accident. On the second train were Medical Examiner BRECK and DR. SEELYE, of Springfield.

Superintendent CONE, of Chester, who has charge of the mountain division of the road, took charge of the wreck, and with the assistance of the extra engines and section hands did much toward clearing away the wreck before the arrival of the wreckers from Springfield. The physicians of Huntington arrived on the scene and did much to relieve the sufferings of the injured.

The heroes of the work of rescue were DOCTOR GEORGE L. WOOD, of Collinsville, who went to the train to meet his wife, and the colored porters and waiters in the dining car. Although their faces were bruised and cut and covered with blood, they did splendid work.

The hospital was a group of apple trees in an adjoining orchard, where scores were taken. Ox teams arrived with loads of straw, cushions, bedding and food. The wounded were soon removed to the houses of N. A. HARWOOD, WASHINGTON MOORE and J. C. CROCKER, and all that remained on the apple-strewn ground were thirteen bodies covered with red blankets from an adjoining stable.

The dead were many of them horribly mutilated, heads crushed in, limbs torn, and often only recognizable from the clothing. The injured were conveyed in a special train to Boston.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1893-09-08

Submitted & transcribed by Stu Beitler  Thank you, Stu!


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