Monday, December 02, 2013

NY Train Wrecks December 2013 & 1867 The "Angola Horror"

The "Angola Horror" from Frank Leslie's Weekly 1867
The recent commuter train that derailed in a curve in the New York borough of the Bronx on Sunday, killing four people and leaving dozens hurt is eerily reminiscent of an earlier New York train wreck known as the Angola Horror.

"The Angola Horror train wreck occurred on December 18, 1867, just after 3 p.m. when the last coach of the Buffalo-bound New York Express of the Lake Shore Railway derailed and caught fire in Angola, New York, killing around 49 people.

The express left Cleveland's Union Terminal at 6:40 that morning and was due to arrive in Buffalo at 1:30 in the afternoon. Intending to make the journey was future oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, but he arrived a few minutes late at the station, and although his baggage made it onto the train, he did not. That day the train consisted of four baggage cars, one second class car and three first-class cars; each wooden passenger car also had a pot-bellied stove at each end to provide heat, and kerosene lamps for light. The train lost time on the journey, and by the time it passed Angola it was running two hours and forty-five minutes late, traveling rapidly to try to make up lost time. Its last passenger stop before the accident was at Dunkirk; it also stopped at Silver Creek, but only to take on wood and water.

The train concerned was formed of so-called 'compromise cars,' which were originally designed to allow freight trains to run on both the 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge of the New York Central Railroad as well as the 4 ft 10 in (1,473 mm) Ohio gauge of the Lake Shore Railroad, but this allowed 3⁄8 inches (9.5 mm) lateral movement on the latter, creating instability. As it neared the truss bridge over Big Sister Creek just east of Angola at 3:11, it ran over a 'frog' (the crossing point of two rails); the front axle of the rear car was slightly bent, and the frog caused a wheel on the defective axle to jump off the track, derailing the rear car, which began swaying violently from side to side. The brakes were applied, but the train was still traveling at considerable speed as it crossed the bridge. The last car finally uncoupled from the train and plunged down into the icy gorge. The second-to-last car also derailed, but managed to make it across to the other side of the gorge before sliding 30 feet (9 m) down the embankment; only one person was killed in this car.

The passengers in the last car were not so fortunate. It plunged 40 feet down the ice-covered slope to the gully bottom and came to a rest, at a 45 degree angle, with a fearful crash. The passengers were thrown together at the end of the car onto the overturned stove, while the other stove fell upon them from above, releasing hot coals. The carriage immediately caught fire, the fuel from the kerosene lamps fueling the flames. Only two people escaped alive from the carriage; some may have suffocated, but the majority were burned alive. Witnesses spoke of hearing the screams of those trapped inside lasting for five minutes. Source Wikipedia"


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