Harrisburg, PA Express Train Hits Derailed Freight, May 1905
About 1:40 o'clock the engine on an eastbount freight train was flagged by the crew of a shifting engine ahead on the same track. The engineer quickly put on his air brakes, and the train, an unusually long one, came to a sudden halt. The strain on the air valves was a severe one, and a connecting air hose in the middle of the train blew out. This caused the middle of the train to "buckle," and the damaged cars fell over on the passenger tracks.
Just as this happened the Cleveland Express came thundering up and "side swiped" the wreck. The express was stopped within its own length, and the third sleeper was opposite the wrecked cars. Before any one could leave the passenger train, which was not very badly damaged, a few slight explosion occurred, and then there was one great flash and roar that shook the earth. The whole affair occurred within the period of a few seconds.
Horrors Follow Explosion.
A scene of horror followed the explosion of the dynamite. The passenger cars and some of the freight cars instantly took fire. As the reverberation of the terrific explosion died away in the hills across the Susquehanna River, the agonizing cries of the injured could be heard. Men and women came tumbling and climbing from the car windows or crawled from under the wreckage. No one for the moment seemed to know what to do, and many of the passengers, momentarily seized with terror, ran wildly about the fields on the north side of the railroad or waded into the shallow waters of the river, which paralleled the railroad on the south. Realizing their safety and the danger still threatening the others, the frightened passengers turned in and began the rescue of the living. As they approached the wreck another explosion occurred, which sent them scurrying away. Fearing that the entire freight train might be loaded with dynamite, no one dared go near the wreck. Finally the railroad men, who knew the contents of the burning freight train, led the way, and the uninjured passengers followed.
The work of rescue was at first slow and it seemed as though the flames would envelop the entire express train before those who were pinned beneath the heavy wreckage could be freed. Everywhere there came cries for help, and the frantic rescuers worked with willing hands. Scores of those who were trapped in their sleeping berths or pinioned under wreckage were taken out an laid in the field badly hurt.
Heartrending Cries of Dying.
The advancing fire drove the rescuers back as they were about to take others from the wreck, and the unfortunates, men and women, were soon enveloped in the flames. The cries of the dying were heartrending in the extreme, but nothing could be done for them. An alarm of fire was sent in, but when the firemen reached the scene the flames had done their work, so far as the victims in the wreck were concerned. The entire train was consumed by fire.
Continued on Page 3.