Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper—New York—for the week ending January 21, 1882

FATAL DISASTER ON THE HUDSON RIVER RAILROADTERRIBLE accident occurred on the Hudson River Railroad near Spuyten Duyvil early in the evening of January 13th, by which a number of lives were lost, several passengers were more or less severely injured, and two palace-cars wrecked and burned. The Atlantic Express, which was due in New York City at seven o'clock In the evening, was thirty-five minutes late on leaving Albany. It ran at a high rate of speed, and had nearly made up Its lost time before reaching Spuyten Duyvil. There were thirteen cars on the train Six were parlor cars. These were the Red Jacket, Vanderbilt, Sharon, Minnehaha, Empire and Idlewild. There were four passenger coaches, two mail cars and one express car. The train had passed Spuyten Duyvil and had gone about a third of a mile, when one of the air-brakes gave out and the train was brought to a stop about two hundred yards from Spuyten Duyvil curve. This curve is one of the sharpest on the road, and an approaching train could not be seen beyond the turn. The train was delayed five or six minutes while workmen were examining and repairing the brake. A local train for passengers left Tarrytown about 6:35, shortly after the express train had passed, and left Spuyten Duyvil at 7:07, being due at the Grand Central Depot at 7:39. While the express train was standing on the track the local train from Tarrytown, running at apparently full speed, crashed into the rear of the standing train. The two rear drawing-room cars were telescoped. They then caught fire and were burned. It is believed that all of the ten or twelve persons in the rear car perished. Senator Webster Wagner was last seen, a moment before the accident, going from the second car from the rear to the rear car, and there is no doubt that he is among the victims. The number of those who perished in the second car from the rear is not known, but there seems to be reason for believing that all of the passengers were not rescued. Among the dead are a young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Park Valentine, who were on their bridal tour. The cause of the accident is not clear, but it seems that there was an almost total absence of attempt to flag the approaching train. The number of dead bodies taken from the wreck at midnight was ten. Several persons are injured, one at least fatally.


On the train were ten State Senators and twenty-six Assemblymen returning from the capital, but of these only Senator Wagner is known to have been lost. The engine of the Tarrytown train ran under the platform into the car and drove the Idlewild into the Empire with such terrific force as to render it necessary to cut it out. The stoves and lamps in the parlor cars were upset and ignited the woodwork and upholstery. The passengers were jammed between the seats and sides of the car and held while the flames rolled around and enveloped them. Of the twelve passengers in the Idlewild, nine are dead and one has been taken in an ambulance to the Ninety-ninth Street hospital, probably fatally injured. Another passenger, Miss Mary Daniels, aged twenty-five years, of the Sherwood House, New York City, who was returning from a visit to Vermont, is badly scalded about the arms and breast, and is lying at the hotel near the scene of the accident. Oliver B. Keeley, a stove manufacturer, of Spring City, Pa., had his right arm burned to a crisp, and was also burned about the body; he was taken out alive by Detective Dakin, but died at midnight at the hotel. Four bodies, burned beyond recognition, were taken to the Kingsbridge Police Station, one being that of a woman, and five were placed in a room of the hotel, one of which is supposed to be a Mr. Pringle, of Philadelphia.

A number of people living in the neighborhood of Spuyten Duyvil Creek flocked to the scene, provided with axes, buckets, etc., and were indefatigable in their exertions to save life. They rushed into the midst of the flames, pouring water and showering heaps of snow in every direction where there was any chance of doing good, but more especially on the rear of the last car whence the screams had been heard. Hundreds of hands were engaged in rolling up big balls of snow. They were passed over the fence to those who, braving the heat, ran alongside the fiery piles and tossed them through the windows to be licked up by the flames. Ladders were procured and efforts made to punch holes through the car-panels. Never did men work with more desperate energy than these Spuyten Duyvil and Kingsbridge villagers. The workmen of the Spuyten Duyvil Rolling Mill turned out in full force to assist in the now fruitless attempt to save life.

The cars burned brightly until the last vestige of wood was destroyed. The road was completely blockaded, but at one o'clock a wrecking-train arrived from New York in charge of Superintendent Toucey and commenced to clear the track.

Senator Webster Wagner was born at Palatine Bridge, N. Y., October 2d, 1817. He received a common school education. In 1843 he was appointed station agent at Palatine Bridge. While holding this position he engaged in the handling of grain and other farm products, and be devoted his attention for some time exclusively to this business. Through his connection with railroads he perceived the necessity of sleeping-cars. He secured the cooperation of other men, and four cars were built, which began running on the New York Central Railroad in 1858. As soon as the sleeping-coaches proved an assured success, Mr. Wagner turned his attention to the drawing-room car. In 1867 his first palace-car was invented. These cars became very popular and made the fortune of their inventor. They are used on many of the principal railroads in the United States.

In 1870 Mr. Wagner was elected to the Assembly as a Republican, by a majority of 200. In the following year he was nominated to represent the Fifteenth District, in the State Senate, and was elected by 3,222 majority. At the end of that term he was returned to the Senate without opposition, and in 1875 he was re-elected by a majority of 2,623. In 1877,1879 and 1881 he was also re-elected. Mr. Wagner was a delegate to the Chicago Convention in 1880, and was one of the seventeen New York delegates who opposed General Grant's third-term aspirations, and were instrumental in securing the nomination of General Garfield.

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