Skip to Content

New York City, NY Elevated Train Jumps Rails, Sep 1905





New York, Sept. 12. -- The death list of Monday's accident on the Ninth Avenue elevated railroad, when a car crowded with early morning workers, on their way down-town, pitched headlong into the street, stands at 12. Three men are in hospitals with fractured skulls. One of these, who as yet remains unidentified at Roosevelt Hospital, is unconscious and not expected to live. More than two score of persons were injured, many of them seriously.
Eight persons were dead when taken out of the wreck, and four died later at hospitals.
The dead are:
JACOB M. ANSPACH, a merchant and member of the Newark (N.J.) board of trade.
ERNEST P. SCHEIBLE, an electrician.
JOHN COCHRANE, employed by the Mutual Chemical Company.
SOLOMON NEUGASS, employed by the Mutual Chemical Company.
WILLIAM LEES, an electrician.
JOSEPH BACH, a policeman.
JAMES COOPER, employed by Fireproof Tenement House association.
EMMA CONHOVEN, died in Roosevelt Hospital.
ALBERT WELLSTER, clerk, died in Roosevelt Hospital.
LOUIS ABEL, clerk.
Of the dead, the most frightfully mutilated was JAMES COOPER, whose head was completely severed from his body.
The accident, the worst in the history of the overhead railroads in New York, came when a southbound train on the Ninth Avenue line was switched off to the Sixth Avenue line at the Fifty-Third Street junction. The motorman, expecting a clear track on the direct line of Ninth Avenue, or disregarding the warning signal that the switch was open, rushed his train along at a high rate of speed. The first car swung around to right angle curve, holding to the rails because of the wright of the train behind. Then the strain became too great. The couplings broke, the second car was whirled about almost end for end.
Suddenly the outer guard rail of the railroad structure gave way, a score of bodies were hurled through space, and with a deafening crash the car fell to the street. For an instant it stood fairly on end. Then the sides gave way as if they were made of pasteboard, belching out a mass of humanity. Those passengers who had not jumped from platforms and windows before the plunge came, were thrown into a mass at the forward end of the car. As the injured men and women were struggling to free themselves, the heavy front trucks of the third car on the train fell almost in their midst as the car itself jumped partly off the elevated structure and was wedged against a building at the southeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Fifty-Third Street.
Huge crowds were soon on the scene and the first work of the hastily summoned police reserves was directed to clearing a way for the effective rescue of the passengers pinned down by the wreckage. Almost every ambulance in Manhattan was summoned and the injured and dead were hurried away with all speed.
Coroner Scholer ordered the arrest of all those immediately concerned. Search was at once made for the motorman, PAUL KELLY, who secured a position on the elevated lines six months ago. He came here from St. Louis. KELLY could not be found, and at a late hour was still missing, although it was said he had spent the afternoon at the house of a friend. The switchman in the tower at Ninth Avenue and Fifty-Third Street, CORNELIUS A. JACKSON, was first arrested. Then Conductor J. W. JOHNSON and Guards HIGGINSON, J. McDAVITT, W. L. BERRY and B. CLARK were taken into custody. At a preliminary hearing all the men waived examination. The Switchman is charged with manslaughter and the trainmen are held as witnesses. Coroner Scholer, who has undertaken the work of fixing the blame for the wreck, announced that the switchman's bond had been placed at $5,000, and those of the witnesses at $100 each.
Two versions of the cause of the wreck were told to the coroner. One of these was that the switchman had set the tracks for a Sixth Avenue train and, when he saw his mistake, had attempted to rectify it while the train was on the curve, the change throwing the second, third and fourth cars off the track. The switchman, however, declares the wrecked train had Sixth Avenue signals set, and he expected it to slow down to take the curve. Instead, it maintained the speed usual with Ninth Avenue trains on the direct line.

Logansport Reporter Indiana 1905-09-12

article | by Dr. Radut