Table of Contents:
A Railroad train-plunged through aThe Hackensack and New York train, which left Jersey City on Wednesday, with twenty passengers, plunged through a drawbridge about seven miles from Jersey City. The light was exhibited to show the draw was up, but the engineer in charge had never seen the bridge in that condition, and either did not understand or did not see it. As soon as he discovered the peril he gave the signal whistle to have the brakes put on, reversed the engine, but saw that it was all over. Off the brink of the draw down plunged the engine and tender, with a roar and crash that were heard more than two miles away.--The engine divided the waters, went some thirty feet below the surface, and was followed by the car, which probably turned partially over in its descent, but was again righted by striking upon the bowsprit of a schooner that was just on the point of passing through, the collision tearing open a long strip in the roof of the car. All this, of course, happened in almost as short a space as it can be thought of; indeed the car had rested its forward end upon the sunken engine before the parted waters had returned to their place. The car, which was a very long one, was left with its forward end, up to about the first ventilator, immersed in water, and the rear end resting upon the edge of the draw, and at an angle of about forty-five degrees. Some of the passengers clung to their seats, and others were thrown about. The conductor was at the time standing in the centre of the car, when the shock and descending motion of the car sent him nearly twenty-five feet forward through the door of the smoking saloon, an apartment taking up seven feet of the length of the car. The water which was rushing in through the outside door, shut this inner door behind him, and he, with the brakesman, were nearly up to their chins in an icy element, and cooped up within this limited compartment. The conductor secured a hold upon the ring through which the bell rope passes against the roof. It is said that quite an earnest struggle took place between them as to who should have possession of this bit of iron — now the brakesman, and then the conductor secured it for alternate moments. A bystander says that as the car fell into the chasm, cries and shrieks arose, mingled with and continued after the noises of the water and the crash of the falling train. The passengers, consisting of three ladies and fourteen men, who had been more or less jostled about, soon climbed up the ascent and emerged through the rear door, having sustained little injury beside the fright, save that in one case a lady had one or two teeth knocked out. Meanwhile the three unfortunates in the little smoking-room were screaming for help and seizing by turns the anchor in the roof. A couple of axes had been brought from the schooner close by, and a hole cut through the top of the room, which gave the men a little air, or possibly they would have suffocated. One of the windows of the car, said to have been two or three feet under water, was broken open by the brakesman, and the three men successively passed down and crawled through it, being picked up at once. They are believed to have been in the water from fifteen to twenty minutes. One had become crazed, and it was with difficulty that he could be restrained from jumping back into the river. The engineer, according to his own account, went down with the engine, one hand holding upon the "throttle-valve," and the other upon the "reverse lever." He rose to the surface about one hundred feet distant from the spot where he went down. He got hold of a rope, wound it about him, and finally succeeded in crawling up on a portion of the pier that jutted out and formed a little shelf. He was taken in nearly a frozen condition. --The engineer was injured more than any one else, but he is merely bruised a little about the hands, and received a flesh-wound on the outside of the left hip. The escape of all these passengers from death, or even serious injury, seems about as miraculous as anything on record. It is nearly 20 feet from the floor of the bridge to the surface of the water; the water is about 27 feet deep, with a soft, miry bottom, into which it is thought the engine has sunk from 10 to 15 feet. That the passengers were all saved is attributed to two causes: First, the material of which the car was made. Had it been a wooden car, it would probably have broken into two parts, spilling out nearly all, the splintering timbers, bruising and crushing a portion. Second, the large windows of the car, which allowed the egress of the three persons in the smoking car.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.