Worcester, MA Train Wreck, Nov 1883




WORCESTER, Mass., Nov. 28.---Shortly after 2 o'clock a disaster occurred to passenger train No. 45, on the Boston, Barre and Gardner Railroad, leaving Winchendon at 12:20, and due in this city at 2:25 P. M. The train consisted of a locomotive, baggage, smoking, and one passenger car, and the latter, which was the rear car, was densely crowded with people, mostly on their way hither to enjoy the Thanksgiving Day holiday. The total number of passengers was 65, of whom a large proportion were women and children. The train had just made a stop at North Worcester Station, five miles from this city, and had started up again, when on a sharp curve, upon a steep embankment 30 to 40 feet high, the front truck of the passenger car jumped from the rails and the wheels began bounding over the ties.

Fortunately the train had attained a speed of only about eight miles an hour, and one of the passengers sprang for the bell-rope and pulled it sharply. The engineer promptly set the air-brakes, but the brake-rod on the derailed truck was broken, and the rear truck brakes holding, the car, after bouncing along on the ties for 150 feet, went over the edge of the narrow steep embankment, rolling over twice in its descent. The shock broke the coupling to the smoker and the forward part of the train did not leave the track. The car was badly shattered in its fall, all the windows, and the flying fragments of glass created sad havoc among the faces of the passengers. Fortunately, the frame of the car held together so that it was not crushed like an egg-shell, and, still more fortunately, the fastenings of the heater did not give way, so that the horrors of the fire among the shattered wordwork[sic] were averted.

The passengers were thrown together in a confused mass at the side of the car. One girl, Katie Drislane, a servant in the employ of C. C. Davis, a druggist from Walpole, N. H., who was accompanying his family here to spend Thanksgiving Day, was found on the opposite side of the car to that which she had occupied, with her head and one arm thrust through a window and her head between the window casing and the ground. A number of wounded people were piled upon her and when they were removed it was discovered that her arm was so closely pinned that she had to be extricated by the use of saws, which took over an hour. Not one of the 65 persons in this car escaped some injury, and 37 were seriously hurt, of whom half a dozen are believed to be fatally injured.

The forward cars were crowded with men, many of whom had given up their places in the rear car to the women and children, and as soon as the train could be stopped, they hastened to the rescue of the wounded and worked like Trojans. Doors were removed from the cars and used as stretchers, and the injured persons, as fast as extricated were tenderly conveyed to the houses of residents in the vicinity, who cheerfully threw open their doors and did all in their power to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded. Many of them were suffering the most intense agony, and no surgical assistance could be obtained for over two hours, when a relief train, made up in this city and filled with surgeons, was sent to the spot. The victims were all removed to this city, and several were taken to the City Hospital, while others were able to be assisted to their destinations. There was hardly a second's warning of the disaster. The bumping of the wheels over the ties and the sudden roll down the bank was followed so quickly by the crash at the bottom that the occupants hardly had time to know that something had happened when they found themselves in a bruised and bleeding mass in the bottom of the wreck.

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