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THE FATAL FIRST IRON BRIDGE.

Iron railroad bridges, although a modern thing in railroad construction as regards their universal use, were introduced as an experiment on the New York and Erie Railroad as early as 1849. Three bridges of that material were built in that year, the largest one being the one across Westcolang Creek and its deep ravine, a short distance east of Mast Hope, Pa., on the Delaware Division. Those bridges were all removed and replaced with wooden bridges in the summer of 1850, because of a bad accident that happened to a train while crossing the Westcolang bridge, July 31st Of that year.

The train was a live stock and freight train of seventeen cars, besides the engine and tender. At the time the train approached the bridge it was going at an ordinary rate, but the engine had but just got fairly off the solid track when the engineer heard a loud cracking sound, and felt something giving away. He put on all the steam possible, and succeeded in getting the engine, which was a very powerful one, upon the other side, but just as he had cleared the bridge it went down with a crash, carrying the tender with it. The cars following tumbled into the abyss, one after another, until fifteen of them, with their contents, were piled up in the gap. The engineer and his fireman saved themselves by jumping off on either side of the engine. The brakeman, Adam Tice, and J. L. Clapp of Ohio, a drover's helper, aged 19, went down with the cars. George Randall, the drover, was precipitated over the embankment with the car he was in. Two other men, who were on the sixteenth car, discovered that something was wrong in time to save themselves by jumping.

The scene just after the accident had occurred was in the extreme. A hundred head of cattle were writhing in torture, and making the whole mass active by their throes, in the vain endeavor to extricate themselves, some with their horns broken off, and some held fast by means of the ruin piled upon them. Their cries were heart-rending. Some of the poor creatures, mad with pain, their eyes starting from their sockets, seemed bent on wreaking vengeance on whatever object was nearest to them. Others, subdued by their sufferings, moaned piteously, and gazed about as if imploring release.

The imprisoned sheep that were alive simply bleated plaintively, while a few of their companions that had happened to escape and clamber from the wreck went quietly to nibbling grass by the roadside, indifferent to the misery of their fellows. The swine that were part of the writhing, moaning mass were belligerent, after their kind, and those beneath the ruins fought with each other as long as there was life left in them, while the more lucky ones that escaped made for the woods as if flying from some impending danger. As soon as the momentary panic had subsided, the men who had escaped injury set to work to relieve their companions. It was soon ascertained that the drover Randall and the brakeman Tice were near each other, both alive, and by no means despairing. Soon Randall's voice was heard. He was discovered buried among the fragments of the cars, and directly beneath a large ox, which was still alive, and at times greatly distressed the helpless drover by kicking him on the breast. Randall was perfectly sensible, and gave directions as to how he could best be removed. He thought he could endure the weight of the ox until it could be taken away piecemeal. The ox was therefore shot, but in its dying struggles kicked Randall so violently in the breast as to deprive him of life. Immediately before his death he spoke much of his life, stating that he had a wife and four children. The same ox lay partly across Tice, the brakeman, who died before he could be extricated from his frightful situation.

There was no telegraph in use along the railroad yet, although a line was being put up. A man was sent on horseback to Lackawaxen, four miles east of the scene of the accident, to inform John M. Williamson, the Company's agent at that point. Williamson despatched a messenger to Port Jervis, down the tow-path of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, twenty-three miles, to carry the news to Division Superintendent Power. The Superintendent at once started for the scene of the accident with a relief train. Agent Williamson hastened to Mast Hope. Clapp, the other drover, had been found, and taken from the wreck in the meantime, alive, but terribly mutilated. By the time Superintendent Power arrived, Agent Williamson had ordered the wounded cattle, sheep, and hogs shot. All the dead beasts were buried in a vast trench, but the task was a long and tedious one; so long, in fact, that, the weather being intensely hot, the carcasses began to putrefy before the work was done, adding new unpleasantness to the already accumulated horrors. Coe Little was the conductor of the train, and Nat. Hatch the engineer.


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