The freight train between Goshen and Piermont carried passengers also, in a car at the rear end of the train. A well known character in Orange and adjoining counties was an Irish peddler, named Patrick Fitzsimmons. He travelled about the country with a pack, a method of trading by which people living at a distance from towns and villages fifty years ago were provided with various kinds of merchandise. October 27, 1841, a month after the railroad was opened to Goshen, Fitzsimmons was at Piermont, and boarded the freight train to take his first ride on the "steam cars." When the train was passing up the grade west of the big trestle over the Hackensack River, five miles from Piermont, it broke in two, and the loosened cars started back down the grade toward the trestle. Fitzsimmons became frightened, and rushed to the platform of a passenger car. The runaway cars were then travelling at great speed. The frightened peddler did not stop to consider the consequences, but leaped from the platform. He was hurled violently down the embankment and instantly killed—thus the first passenger to meet death on the Erie.

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