Otisville, NY Train Wreck, Sept 1858

The Catastrophe on the Erie Railroad – Statements of Passengers, &c.

[From the New York Commercial, of Saturday]
Considering the haste with which the report published in the Commercial, yesterday afternoon, of the catastrophe which occurred on the Erie Railroad on Thursday night, was prepared, it was surprisingly accurate. Our list of killed (six) was correct. The gentlemen named ROBERTSON (killed) was MR. G. W. ROBERTSON, of Eighty-third street, New York. The man killed, whose name our reporters could not ascertain yesterday, is now said to be JOHN or GEORGE SHULTZ, a German, supposed to be from Buffalo. The gentleman who was so badly injured, that it was thought he could not survive was MR. JOHN E. WHITE, of 127 Bleecker street, New York. He suffers from internal injuries.
MR. SHAW, one of the conductors of the Erie Railroad, came down on the 4:45 train, yesterday afternoon, and states that MR. And MRS. BROWN, of Tioga valley, are both so seriously injured that it is thought they will die. Their son, four years of age, was killed by the accident. The REV. EDMUND B. PALMER, of No. 18 Poplar street, Boston, is not expected to recover.
The following gentlemen are attending the sufferers, and doing all that professional skill, care, and perseverance can accomplish; DR. HARDENBURGH, DR. VAN ETTEN, DR. ROBERTSON, DR. LAWRENCE, DR. STEVENS, DR. BROOKS, of Binghamton, DR. ELY, Cochecton, DR. BONNEVILLE, Milford, Pa.
The ladies of the vicinity, and citizens generally, are aiding the medical gentlemen as much as possible.
The accident occurred after the train had passed Otisville, about six miles on its was to Port Jarvis, which is six miles further on and about half a mile from Shin Hollow station, a place where there are only a few shanties, and where it was impossible immediately to obtain assistance. The track at this point forms a straight line with a down grade toward Port Jarvis of about 45 feet to the mile for 13 miles. When the accident occurred the alarm rope which passes through all the cars to where the engineer stands had broken, the engineer supposing a portion of the train had parted from him, and fearing that he being on a down grade, the parted portion of the train would run into him if he stopped immediately, continued running slowly for about three-quarters of a mile, and until he knew that there was no danger from that source. He then ran back, and passengers who were uninjured hastened to the relief of those who had been less fortunate. The spot is among the worst on the road at which a car could leave the track. On the left side going from New York is a high, mountainous, and rocky district, alongside which the road is cut. On the right hand side, and but a few feet from the track, there is a steep embankment of some thirty feet. It was down this embankment the two cars were precipitated.
It seems to be conceded by all who are able to form an opinion, that the cause of the disaster was the breaking of the rail.
The following letter is from the REV. E. D. G. PRIME, to his brother, one of the editors of the New York Observer:
PORT JERVIS, July 15, 1858
DEAR BROTHER: The telegraph will inform you of the terrible accident our train met with last evening near this place. We left New York in the five o'clock P. M. train came on safely and pleasantly until about 8 ½ o'clock; when descending the heavy grade on the west side of the Shawangunk mountains I perceived that we were moving at such a fearful rate that i started once or twice with apprehension, knowing that we were on a heavily descending grade. Within two or three minutes after my fears became thus excited, I felt a concussion as if we were running over a slight obstruction. Some little commotion ensued in our car, which was the fourth from the rear. A signal was made to the engineer as soon as possible, but we had run a mile or more before the train was stopped. We soon found that two cars had been detached from the train.

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