Railroad History

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Ninth Avenue Elevated Train Crash

Survivors tell of stories of being hurled through space in the New York City train crash of September 1905 as reported in the The New York Evening World. "

To live to tell the story of being hurled through space in a whirling "L" car, going down in a crash to the street and then being caught in a mass of wreckage seems miraculous. After they had been rescued and their injuries attended by the hospital doctors a number of the survivors recounted their thrilling experience to reporters of The Evening World. Probably the most stirring and circumstantial is that of Charles E Garrison, one of the first of the victims taken from the wreck. His statement follows:

From The New York Evening World of September 11, 1905:

     "The train, a southbound Ninth avenue one, left Fifty-ninth street about 7:30 o'clock. At Fifty-fifth street the motorman slowed down. I was in the second car.
     Then, after he slowed down, he went ahead suddenly, and the first car turned down Flfty-third street. I thought I had made a mistake and got on a Sixth avenue train. The next instant just what happened is not clear. Why it occurred I don't know unless the man in the signal tower saw he had made a mistake and threw back the switch.
     The car I was in left the track broke away from the first one and went over into the street. In leaving the structure we were running at a good rate of speed, and we turned completely over. We were first shot forward and then piled in the front of the car in a mass. Every seat was filled, and there were about twenty-five persons, maybe more, standing up.
     The car was crowded but not packed .As we went forward we were dropped into the forward car. I will never forget the sensation nor the horror of the situation. It was only an instant, but I presume it was something like a man going through a death trap.
     People in the rear seats were thrown out and dropped the length of the car and as we dropped the car turned over so that we were whirled about.
     Men and boys and women grabbed at everything in sight, and at the same time the car seemed to be rent in a hundred pieces. It was as though it was hit with a ton of weight or blown up by something.
     I know now It was the striking of the ground that splntered it.
     While we were coming to our senses those that were not knocked senseless made efforts to get out of the windows. The car was upside down and the heavy trucks were on the ceiling.
     The next instant, it was all in an instant for that matter, the forward truck of the second car that had followed ours half way over the structure dropped off and the heavy trucks came through the car we were in like it was paper. I think this is what killed most of those who were killed outright.
     I was forced upward and half way through a window. A man from the car barns a half block away had reached us. He gave me his hand and I climbed out and found that while I was shaken up I was able to
move about.
     The screams of those inside were something terrible. I got my breath and had to lie back before I was able to give any hand at the work of rescue.
     The firemen came and the work of rescue began They first took out four dead bodies and then pulled from the car a dozen or more persons who had been injured by the falling truck."

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