York Harbor, NE Train Wreck, Apr 1900


Passenger and Baggage Cars go Into The York River.

Only Two Men Hurt---One Very Badly.

Train Broke Apart Just After it Had Crossed the Bridge.

Wrecking Train and Surgeons Gone From This City to Assist---Only Nine Passengers and all Escape Serious Injuries.

The first accident of any consequence to happen on the York Harbor & Beach railroad since the line was put into operation, occurred at the bridge over the York river, just this side of the York Harbor station, this morning. A passenger car and a baggage car are now at the bottom of the York river. Nine passengers were on the car at the time of the accident. The names of all cannot be learned at the present writing. Two men were hurt, one of them very badly. The damage to the rolling stock will be heavy.

The injured are:
FRED EMERY, Boston, both legs crushed, head gashed and otherwise hurt.

CYRUS SMITH, residence not known, wrist badly hurt and he is seriously shaken up.

The train left this city at 7:30 this morning, the trip being the first regular to be run over the road, today being the opening day of the season on the line.

The train was made up of a passenger car and five freight and baggage cars. The train was in charge of Conductor Parsons of this city. The engineer was M. E. Stone and the fireman was H. S. Billings of Kittery Point. The train had just before crossed the bridge and was pulling into the York Harbor station, when it broke apart between the fifth and sixth cars on the forward end.

It is a down grade from the York Harbor station to the bridge over York river. Just after the train had crossed the bridge the draw tender opened the draw to admit the tug H. A. Mathes of this city with a tow up the river.

The draw had swung wide open when the coupling pin between the cars snapped and the section that had broken away begun to back toward the bridge. In some manner three of the cars were stopped before they could plunge into the river, but the passenger car and the combination baggage car, the two rear cars, got beyond the control of the trainmen, backed out on the bridge and went into the draw.

The passenger coach went to the bottom of the river and rolled over on it side and the combination car went down on its end and is now in this position near the passenger car.

Both cars are of course wrecked. The bridge is smashed in the vicinity of the draw. The tug Mathes had just passed through when the cars fell into the river and it is fortunate for the crew that it had.

Word of the accident was at once telegraphed to this city and a special train was sent over the line to bring the wounded back, it was understood. In the meantime the wrecking train was gotten in readiness to go to the scene of the accident and while it was waiting on the siding here the ambulance was sent to the depot and Drs. Heffenger, Lance and Cheever were summoned to be on hand at the arrival back of the special.

For some reason, the injured were not brought on the train, and as soon as it arrived here the physicans [sic] were ordered to board the train for York. They were also told that Drs. Hawkes, Smith and Cook of York were at the wreck.

Emery was brought to this city and taken to Cottage hospital in the ambulance and was accompanied by the Portsmouth physicians. It was understood that his leg would have to be amputated. He is otherwise hurt, but stood the trip as well as could be expected.

A probable terrible loss of life was prevented by one of the passengers turning around in his seat when the train broke apart and seeing the open draw of the bridge he shouted, “For God’s sake, jump for your lives.

His advice was quickly followed and before the car reached the open draw all of the men were able to jump.

Emery is employed as an agent of the road and went over this morning with a lot of supplies to be distributed along the line. He moved his family from York the past winter and was employed as a fireman at the navy yard during the winter months.

The wrecking train went over this afternoon to clear the track. It was in charge of Foreman James Corey and a large gang of men will be set to work.

Portsmouth Herald, Portsmouth, NH 30 Apr 1900