Off the Track - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Off the Track

Brooklyn Eagle, August 23, 1873

South Side Railroad train (Photo from arrts-arrchives.com)

Accident on the South Side Railroad at Maspeth

One Man Killed and Three Injured ‒ A Hog the Cause of the Disaster.

Yesterday afternoon an unusual occurrence for the South Side Railroad, which has latterly enjoyed an exceptional immunity from casualties, transpired in the vicinity of Maspeth, resulting in the killing of a conductor named George McGee, and the injuring of John Dolan and James Curran, both employees of the Company as well.

The facts relative to the affair are ascertained to be these. The Company has a branch diverging from the road proper at Fresh Pond, upon which extra freight cars, after having been unladen, are run and kept standing until wanted for use. A train of these cars, in charge of Conductor McGee, was being backed off the branch or side track about 3:30 o'clock in the afternoon, and upon the car most remote from the engine he had taken his stand for the purpose of signaling the engineer. While moving along at a rapid rate, a hog suddenly crossed the track in front of the rear car upon sighting which McGee raised his hand to indicate a desire to slacken up in speed, but too late to avoid running over the animal. As the wheels passed over the fated porcine it was thrown from the rail and consequent upon the bumping and jolting from one tie to the next, the conductor in an unguarded moment was hurled to the ground directly in front of the merciless car wheels. All this and the dislodgement of four other cars from the tracks was an occurrence of a moment, and so hastily that the engineer, who instantly shut off upon receipt of the signal from McGee, scarcely comprehended the fact that a part of his train had jumped the track. As to the reason therefore he was entirely in the dark nor could he imagine what causes led to it till he had left his post and examined into the matter personally. He had been told by a brakeman while running forward that a hog had been run over and was the cause of the train's diversion, but that he could not credit it as probable, knowing from experience that larger animals are at times run down, yet a train generally keeps to the rails.

The killed and injured comprised four persons in all, as stated, the nature of whose wounds are given singly as follows:

George McGee, crushed and instantly killed beneath the wheel of the car. Had he been able to escape being caught by the brake beam, by which he was knocked prostrate when he first reached the ground, the man would have escaped with but slight injury at the most.

John Dolan, brakeman, seriously cut on the head, besides sustaining severe contusions on the body in being thrown from a car the same time as the conductor. His physician entertains hope for his ultimate recovery.

James Curran sustained comparatively slight injuries, though when picked up he was found insensible, and believed to have been seriously hurt internally. He subsequently revived and is reported doing well considering the narrow chances passed through.

A young man named William Titus, on the train at the moment of the run off, escaped with a few bruises only.

The body of the dead man was removed to the flag station, and his relatives, who now reside at East New York, notified of his sad fate. His wife is reported to be in delicate health, and not in a condition to be made aware of her husband's sudden death. Both Dolan and Curran live in the Eastern District, and were taken to their respective homes at the earliest movement possible succeeding the catastrophe.