Tarrytown, NY Explosion and Train Wreck, May 1891


Frightful Explosion of Blasting Powder on the Hudson.

A Car Containing Thirty Laborers Blown of Atoms.

A flat car loaded with dynamite and drawn by a construction engine was blown to atoms shortly before noon a few days ago, at a place about one and a quarter miles south of Tarrytown, N. Y., on the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. A gang of workmen, chiefly Italians, were on the car, and of the number thirteen were killed, ten were injured and five, on the day after the tragedy, were missing. It was thought that the bodies of the latter were thrown into the river. Efforts were made to recover them. The bodies of several of the dead Italians have neither been claimed nor identified. Some of the injured of the same nativity have been recognized. Three of the wounded were taken to a local hospital at Tarrytown; the rest were brought to Bellevue Hospital in New York City, where they are being properly cared for.
Had the explosion occurred while a heavily loaded passenger train was passing the work train the loss of life might have been still more appalling. No trustworthy information was obtainable the day following the accident as to the direct cause of the explosion. The most intelligent theory advanced, however, is to the effect that fuhninating caps were carelessly loaded with the dynamite cartridges, and that in some inexplicable way one or more of these caps was ignited causing the explosion.
A portion of the track was torn up and traffic on the road was temporarily suspended. No damage resulted to surrounding property beyond the breaking of a few panes of glass, though the report of the explosion was heard many miles from the scene on both sides of the river.
Following is a list of the dead: JOHN McCARTHY, timekeeper, twenty-two years old, North Tarrytown; FRANK MORRIS, water-boy, eighteen, Tarrytown, blown into the river; JOHN SMITH, brakeman, thirty-two, Sing Sing, blown into the river; LUCINO RAINIERE laborer; RAFFALLE TANICCARLE, laborer; UITO SCACOITE, laborer; Seven Italians, names unknown, thrown in all directions and badly burned, but not much mutilated.
The train consisted merely of an engine, driven by GEORGE HERRICK, and a flat car, in charge of JOHN CONNORS, conductor. On the car were twenty-four cases of Ajax powder, loaded at Ludlow's and intended for use in blasting away the rock for a third track just below the station at Tarrytown. About thirty men were aboard, mostly Italians, who were to do the work. Besides CONNORS and the Italians there were J. SMITH, the brakeman; EDWARD FINNEGAN, the foreman of the gang, and FRANK MORRIS, the water-boy. At Hoge's Point the road makes a sharp bend and a flagman is stationed there, where he can watch the track in both directions. "GUS" DEERMAN, was on duty and was watching the train as it approached him, when he saw an Italian jump off. The man struck on his head and was thrown some distance on the rebound.
The train kept on its way and passed DEERMAN who ran toward the Italian. Before he could reach him and while the train was scarcely 100 feet away he heard a terrific explosion. Looking back, he saw the air filled with smoke, dust and flying debris of all kinds. The powder had in some way ignited, and the car, engine, tender, passengers, and even the roadbed, were blown several hundred feet in all directions.
The flash of the explosion was plainly seen from the station at Tarrytown, about one mile distant, and Officer SMITH who was on duty there, JOHN A. LANT, editor; DAVID WHALEN, a brakeman, and hundreds of others rushed to the spot. They found the roadbed blown out for a distance of twenty or twenty-five feet, rails twisted into all sorts of shapes, the car almost completely annihilated, and the bodies of the victims strewn all about.

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