One day, just before the Christmas holidays of 1856, a Miss Belknap, on her way to spend the festive season with friends in New York, was a passenger on an Erie train from Newburgh. She had her wardrobe in a large carpet bag (they were not grips or satchels in those days), which she placed in the rack over her seat, and not far from one of the ventilators. During the trip there was a smell of burning cloth in the car that could not be accounted for, although it elicited considerable inquiry. On arriving at Jersey City, the lady reached for her carpet bag, when she found that instead of her presumably rich silk robes and fine laces and snowy-white night gowns, she had a bag of ashes and a mass of black cinders. The whole of her wardrobe was burned, but so confined had been the fire that the cloth had charred without blazing; but the ruin was complete, and the lady declared that her visit was spoiled, as well as her clothes. Upon examination, the conductor concluded that the accident had been caused by a spark from the locomotive entering at the ventilator. He calmed the lady's disturbed mind by assuring her that he thought the Company would make good her loss, and asked her to prepare a list of her destroyed property, with an estimate of its value, which she did. She placed the damage at $60. The conductor made a report of the case, and the documents were presented at the Company's office in the Erie building, at the foot of Duane Street. The claim was approved forthwith, and it was paid, the claimant being delayed but a few minutes.

Erie Page | Stories Page | Contents Page

This page is from Thomas Ehrenreich's Railroad Extra website, and is reproduced here as a memorial to him and his dedication to preserving the history of railroading in America. Please note I have no access to the original source material and cannot provide higher resolution scans.
The Catskill Archive website and all contents, unless otherwise specified,
are 1996-2010 Timothy J. Mallery . The Railroad Extra pages are ©2001 Thomas Ehrenreich.