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From the Archives F.C. Edwards Part 8

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  • joseph Klapkowski
    This story is true. I may not have all the details exactly correct but here goes....... There is a local train pulled by a high stepping 4-4-0 headed down the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2007
      This story is true. I may not have all the details exactly correct but here
      goes.......

      There is a local train pulled by a high stepping 4-4-0 headed down the
      Hudson line from Peekskill. The time is July 1893, and Peekskill is a big
      terminal for the commuter trains because although there is a yard at Croton
      Landing it is not yet a big facility, Mr. Harmon not having yet made his
      land grab as the New York Central had not yet been forced to make
      electification the alternative power for moving thier trains.

      The morning was warm and sultry and the train had started out from Peekskill
      on time at 8:46 am. This train was an express and did not stop at Montrose,
      Crugers, Oscawana or Croton Landing, and instead made its first stop at Sing
      Sing at 9:02 am. The train pulled into Sing Sing and a sizeable crowd
      boarded, extending the train's stop by three minutes.

      With the hand signal from the conductor on the rear, the engineer gave two
      whistles and notched out the throttle with the train picking up speed as it
      entered the tunnel underneath Sing Sing Prison (that's right, there was a
      tunnel under Sing Sing that was not "Daylighted" until much later).

      The engineer was bent on making up the three minutes lost doing station work
      at Ossining. As they entered Sing Sing tunnel, the cab filled with smoke and
      the fireman, having tossed several shovels full of coal into the fireaox,
      closed the firebox door and peered ahead through the left side window and
      through the darkness to the sunlight ahead. The cool air was a welcome
      relief if he sat far enough ahead on his seat. The train's next stop was
      not until 9:54 am at 138th street and the engineer was confident that as
      long as the fireman kept the steam up, they should have no trouble making up
      the lost time.

      As the train emerged from the tunnel, the engineer pushed the trottle down a
      notch so as to keep within the speed limits on the curve coming into
      Scarborough. Then the train would then be onto the straightaway before a
      slight left curve where they could go as fast as the engine would haul the
      train before having to slow at OW for the Interlocking switches three miles
      to the south.

      As the throttle closed the engineer called for the fireman to toss more coal
      into the firebox, which the fireman did and then returned to his seat. As
      soon as the train cleared the curve just before the station, the engineer
      pulled back on the throttle causing the engine to jump forward a little.

      The fireman was content to ride on his side of the cab for the two or three
      miles before reaching the interlocking at Tarrytown. The breeze was a
      welcome relief from the hot summer morning not to mention the heat from the
      firebox. As the train picked up speed nothing seemed amiss. But after a few
      minutes, they began to approach Tarrytown Station (Philipse Manor is not in
      the 1893 timetable). The fireman looked across to the engineer's side of the
      cab wondering why the engineer had not begun to slow down. Sitting on the
      fireman's side the head of the firebox blocked his view of the engineer.

      The fireman slid back on his seat and looked over. No engineer. He got up
      and walked over to the right side of the cab. No engineer. The fireman
      grabbed for the throttle and closed it, then bagan reducing speed by a
      steady application of the brakes. He brought the train to a stop on the
      platform in Tarrytown. The fireman got off the engine and began to walk back
      toward the coaches. The Conductor, watch in hand came out of the coach and
      wanted to know why his train was stopped. The fireman explained that the
      engineer had disappeared. The conductor stepped closer to the fireman to
      smell his breath. No everything seemed all right.

      The conductor sent the brakeman back to protect the rear and the conductor
      went over to the station and reported the incident to the station agent who
      in turn, reported the incident by telegraph to the General Passenger Agent
      at Grand Central Station (no mistake. In 1893 it was Grand Central Station).

      This of course brought forth an array of white shirts from Trainmasters to
      Road Foremen of Engines and the Superintendent's office. The train proceeded
      in charge of the Road Foreman over an hour late.

      Well an investigation was begun on the spot but the mystery did not last
      long. The next train south reported seeing the body of a man just south of
      Scarborough Station. Sure enough it was the missing engineer. The
      Westchester County Coroner solved the mystery. The fireman could not see the
      engineer from his forward position on the left hand side of the firebox.
      Since they were not making any station stops in the next three miles the
      fireman had no reason to think anything was awry. The engineer evidently had
      gotten up and leaned out of the cab because he would be able to see his
      train clearly as it went through the slight curve to the right just south of
      the station. Apparently as he did so, he forgot about the mail crane on the
      south end of the platform. According to the coroner's report, there was
      blood on the crane and the engineer had clearly died from a tramatic blow to
      the back of the head.
      A sad but true story.

      And that is another edition of "From the Archives". Happy Independence Day
      . Down with the British! No taxation without representation!

      What's in your archives?

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