Jumps Track on Bridge

by Laurel | February 20th, 2012

20 February 1912

Wild Plunge of Holyoke Car

All Traffic Blocked an Hour

Spreading Rails on North-End Bridge Causes Narrow Escape for 60 People and Much Trouble for Trolley Company

An accident which imperiled the lives of about 60 people and which caused considerable excitement, happened on the North-end bridge about 6 o’clock last evening, when a Holyoke bound car left the track, skidded across the bridge, and tied up both street and trolly traffic for more than an hour. The car was crowded to capacity, both the aisles and rear vestibule being filled, but no one was injured. The accident happened about 140 feet from the Springfield end of the bridge and was cause by spreading rails at the point where the car ran on to the bridge. Passengers said later that no noticeable jar was experienced on the car when it struck the bridge and there was nothing to indicate that the car was off the rails until it lurched to one side and shot across the bridge roadway.

The accident happened so quickly and unexpectedly that for a moment the passengers were panic stricken. A few, however, kept their heads and quieted the rest. Fortunately the car was running at reduced speed, and when it left the track the motorman had no difficulty in bringing it to a stop before it crashed into the iron framework on the south side of the bridge. The car came to a stop none too soon, for the front was within a few feet of the south side of the bridge when it came to a standstill.

The peculiar lurch of the car could not be accounted for by the street railway officials other than that it might have been caused by the breaking of a flange on one of the wheels. The rear vestibule was crushed into the north side of the bridge and was considerably damaged. The entrance was badly smashed and all the glass was broken. One of the most remarkable aspects of the accident was that none of the people standing in the vestibule was injured by the shower of glass.

Street railway officials said last evening that the accident was caused by a displacement of the rails at the entrance of the bridge, causing the car to leave the tracks. They were of the opinion that the frost action in the ground had raised the tracks during the afternoon and that the vibration cause by the numerous cars which passed over the track during the day had loosened the joints. The displacement was just at the end of the bridge and caused several other cars to leave the track at the same place soon afterward. Several of the passengers on the car spoke high of he presence of mind which motorman H. C. Burnett showed. In view of the distance within which the car was stopped and the unexpectedness of the accident, it was considered remarkable that it did not plunge into the heavy iron framework on the south side of the bridge.

The position of the car after it was brought to a stop was such that both trolly and street traffic was completely blocked for more than an hour. Passengers were transferred at that point, causing considerable delay in the running time.

From The Springfield Republican.

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