Blissville, NY Train Wreck, Sept 1878



The Long Island Railroad met with a series of accidents yesterday, one of which was of considerable magnitude. At 9:39 A. M. as Conductor Rickard's train for Rockaway, which leaves Hunter's Point at 9:30, was rounding a somewhat abrupt curve just beyond Blissville the flange of the forward wheel of the engine-truck on the external rail of the curve gave way for five or six points, and the engine swerved from the track. Before the train could be stopped the engine had traveled about 30 feet from the point where the accident occurred, breaking time and paving the way for the disaster that followed by spreading the tracks. The engineer reversed the steam, and the passengers, in a panic, were about to leap from the train, when suddenly the engine swayed and rolled down an embankment 25 feet high, carrying with it the three passenger cars and the terrified passengers. The bottom upon which the train descended was fortunately a level of marsh land near Newtown Creek, flooded a foot deep with water, and the concussion was consequently not so severe as might have been expected from the momentum and the distance. The engine was nearly buried in the mud, and the first car, in which a number of ladies were seated, fell directly upon it, thus saving many a broken bone. In the second and third car were 20 or 30 men from this City, doing business in Rockaway, and on their way thither. They rolled over as they descended to the marsh with terrific velocity, but, as the concussion at the bottom was comparatively slight, most of the passengers escaped with a few bruises and contusions and the severest nervous shock of their lives. The three cars were completely wrecked, and the scene yesterday afternoon at the point of the disaster was one to be long remembered, the railway company having deemed it expedient to leave the fragments exactly as the wrecking train found them until after the Coroner's inquest - a sequence, by the way, usually taken for granted in railway accidents.

Tidings of the disaster were telegraphed to Hunter's Point by Conductor Rickard, from the nearest telegraph station, and within half an hour a wrecking train, with Drs. Burnett, Graves, and Denbir, was on its way to succor the wounded and bring in the dead, whom rumor at first numbered by the dozen, but ultimately reduced to a single passenger who attempted to escape from the window of the third car and was crushed to death beneath it. Coroner James Devirus took possession of the remains, which proved to be those of Isaiah I. Weaver, one of the Weaver brothers, minstrels, who have been playing at Rockaway this Summer. His brother, Henry Weaver, was on board the same train, but escaped with very slight injury. He went about the depot wild and dazed after the accident, alternately breaking into loud wails and lamentations, and demanding satisfaction for his brother's death. The body was taken to Coroner Devirus' Morgue, and on Tuesday evening an inquest will be held.

The names of the injured follow: M. Durken, engineer, badly scalded; C. Gale, Jamaica, bruised on the head and face; Mr. Hellmaier, No. 38 West Twentieth-street, New York; John H. Brown, No. 317 West Twentieth-street; Henry Weaver, No. 344 West Twentieth-fifth-street; P. W. Vandersmith, No. 60 Irving Place; Hermann Grobe, No. 174 Prince-street; George Decker, Flushing, Long Island; Bernard Friedman, No. 101 Allen-street, New York. The last had a shoulder dislocated. The rest were not so seriously injured as to call for surgical treatment.

While the wrecking train was on its way to Hunter's Point, the engine ran against a woman with a baby in her arms, who was crossing the track, and she received a compound fracture of the forearm. Dr. Denbir expressed the opinion that amputation would be necessary, but the wounded woman insisted upon being taken to her home in Greenpoint. She gave her name as Mrs. William Poland.

A passenger train on the same railroad ran over William Davis, an employe of the company, at Jamaica, last night, crushing his right leg. Amputation was pronounced necessary.

The New York Times, New York, NY 13 Sept 1878