Railroad History of Palatine Bridge

Montgomery County, NY

Articles from Old Newspapers

Illustrating the active railroading history of a village along the Mohawk.

Transcribed and Contributed by Barb Gese.

The New York Times
Aug. 22, 1860

Dispatch to the Associated Press.

FONDA, Tuesday, Aug. 21 [1860]. -- The noon train from Albany started on the Central Road to-day, with nine passenger-cars crowded with Delegates. When about 35 miles from Albany, the first indications were seen of a severe storm. Further west, when near Amsterdam, the train caught the rain, which fell in a fearful deluge.

On reaching Fonda the full extent of the violence of the storm was seen. The rain had almost ceased, but the track was in places a foot under water. Almost the entire village of Fonda was one or two feet deep in water, and when the train stopped at the station, two or three Delegates, anxious to catch the cars, were seen wading through the submerged streets, hip deep in water.

The train left the depot on time, but arriving at the first bridge, a short distance west, the creek was swollen to a torrent, and the bridge for sixty feet swept away. The mirth of passengers was soon turned to chagrin.

Frank KLOCK, the conductor of the train, immediately put back to [Fonda], doing all in his power to provide for the comfort of the passengers. On reaching the hotel every room was speedily engaged, a surprising number of the delegates having sick wives, who desired apartments instantly. It soon became evident that food would be at a premium, and speedy entries were made into eating-houses, eggs, herring, crackers and cheese being quickly bought up.

It was soon ascertained that three bridges had been swept away between Fonda and Palatine Bridge. The village of Fultonville, opposite Fonda, was entirely submerged to the second story of the houses, and most laid under water.

Among the Republican delegates and outsiders on the train are Thurlow WEED, Hugh J. HASTINGS, Hon. Jas. M. COOK, Bank Superintendent, Comptroller DENNISON, Attorney-General MYERS, School Superintendent VAN DYKE, City Comptroller HAWS, Harbormasters AMABLE, COULTER, BRAINARD, MARSTEN and VAN VALKENBURGH, Robert H. HRUYN, A. Oakley HALL, Ex-Health-officers THOMPSON, David Dudley FIELD, O. W. BRENNAN, Judge HOGEBOOM, Congressmen BEALE and KENYON, State Appraiser CARROLL, State Assessor SLOW and Judge BROWN, Daniel Conover HUBBELL, member of Assembly from Westchester, Abe VAN VECHTEN, Wm. G. WEED, Hon. James KELLY, Chairman of the State Central Committee and many others.

Various plans are now proposed to get the passengers over the breaks to Palatine Bridge. Some talk of chartering a canal boat, others are running wildly through wet streets after teams. There are no present prospects of getting on for six or eight hours.

SYRACUSE, Tuesday, Aug. 21 [1860]. -- The detention of the trains from the east, at Fonda, has thrown the Convention into confusion. It is known that a large proportion of the delegates from New-York, Kings, Albany, and the river Counties, are on the trains. Mr. WEED, Mr. KELLY, the Chairman of the State Committee, Mr. VAN DYKE, (who has the resolutions in his pocket,) and a large number of influential outsiders, are also on the trains, so that nothing can be done except talk. Of talk there is any quantity. The tide is not quite so strong for MORGAN but what some considerable number are found to stem it. There is but little doubt but what Lieut.-Gov. CAMPBELL will be renominated by about the same vote as is given for MORGAN. The resolutions will be drawn mild, touching lightly all the great isms, but very friendly to the canals. There will be reported by the Committee another series, and will be offered, I think, by David Dudley FIELD, denouncing in unmeasured terms the lobby influence, the measures of last Winter, and giving an airing to the last Legislature and legislators. Several of the members of the last Legislature are known to be members of the Convention. It is said in the event of the resolutions being offered, condemning the Legislature, Mr. LITTLEJOHN, the Speaker of the last Assembly, will demand specifications and a separate trial. Senator RAMSEY will also demur to the complaint and demand a separate hearing.

When the detained train arrives we shall know more.

FONDA, Tuesday, Aug. 21 [1860] -- 7 P. M. -- There is no prospect of moving up to this hour. Workmen are engaged in spanning the creek, but the work is delayed in consequence of the swollen condition of the stream.

Most of the delegates have managed to dine.

Mr. WEED and other leaders, with accustomed shrewdness, withdrew early to the further end of the village, and secured a good dinner at a country tavern far removed from the crowd. Freight and cattle are accumulating at the depot, in addition to the delegates. Every person retains good humor, and various friendly propositions are made. Among others, is one to organize here, and we have the Chairman of the State Central Committee to call us to order, the whole State Administration to back us up, and the main portion of the Press to report the proceedings. In that case it is proposed to open negotiations by telegraph with the outsiders at Syracuse.

Hon. Mr. KELLY, Democratic candidate for Governor is on the train, on his way to Seneca, on business connected with the State Agricultural College, of which he is trustee.

7:30. P. M. -- The Train is about to start for the break to attempt a transfer of passengers to the train on the other side.

ST. JOHNSVILLE, Tuesday, Aug. 21 [1860]. -- The train reached at 9 1/4 P. M. A safe temporary bridge was erected over the creek and the passengers with their baggage were transferred without difficulty to the train on the other side of the break. Every attention was paid to the accommodation of the passengers, who unanimously expressed a desire that the obliging and efficient conduct of Mr. Frank KLOCK, the conductor, should be acknowledged. Good refreshments were furnished here, preparations having been made for the train. Among the passengers were Messrs. BELL, WELCH, Jr., Daniel ULLMAN, O. R. CHAPIN and Mr. WASSON.

SYRACUSE, Wednesday, Aug. 22 [1860] -- 12:30 A. M. -- The interrupted train has just reached Salt City.

The number of delegates already here is very large, and the Convention to-morrow is evidently destined to be one of the greatest demonstrations ever made at a State Convention.

On Friday last every room in the Voorhies House and Syracuse House were engaged, and a large number of applications have since been made for accommodations which the landlords of those houses found it impossible to grant.

From the character of the delegates already here, it is likely the Convention will be as marked for its ability as its numbers.

So far there seems to be but feeble opposition to the renomination of Messrs. MORGAN and CAMPBELL. What there is, is of a bitter type, but lacks character in those who make it.

Several candidates are in the field for Canal Commissioner, the most prominent of whom are Mr. HOVEY, of Syracuse; Gen. BRUCE, of Madison, and O. N. CHAPIN, of Albany, who claims the nomination on the ground of his defeat last year by the coalition between the Democrats and balance of power party, although he does not reside in the middle section where the vacancy occurs.

For State Prison Inspector the most prominent candidates are Thomas KIRKPATRICK and Mr. HUBBELL, of Westchester.

Much feeling is manifested between the friends of Thurlow WEED and Horace GREELEY, as far as the discussion or controversy between those two gentlemen are [sic] concerned, but the general feeling appears to be harmonious.

Mr. DANA, of the Tribune, was here early this morning, but Mr. GREELEY is not here yet.

The resolutions of the Convention will be of a mild complexion, and the proceedings will appear almost unanimous. In consequence of the delay of the train with so many important delegates on board, no caucuses have been held to-night, and all is uncertain as to temporary or permanent organizations.

The preparations for a Wide-Awake display to-morrow night are on a grand scale, and a large number of clubs from all parts of the State will be represented. This demonstration will be a great feature of the Convention, and will impart much life and interest to the proceedings.

1:30 A. M., 22d. [1860]. -- Mr. BARNES, of Chenango, is also named for Canal Commissioner. The fight appears to-night to lie between him and HOVEY, with the latter ahead.

Mr. MASON, of Wayne County, is presented by Senator WILLIAMS for State Prison Inspector, with a good prospect of success.

Dr. BATES, of Jefferson, is also a prominent candidate for that office.

Hon. James M. COOK and James S. WADSWORTH are both spoken of for permanent President of the Convention.

Among the members of the Legislature present are Senators SISSIONS, WILLIAMS, INGHAM, LAPHAM, and Assemblymen MILLER, COLLINS, BRIGGS, BARDEN, MILLIKEN and HUBBELL, all of whom oppose the resolutions advocated by DANA and GREELEY, condemning the course of the last Legislature.

The present appearences are that the GREELEY party will be largely in the minority in the Convention.

[Contributor's Note: Only by reading this completely can one fully recognize how severely weather and railroad transportation outages affected everyone -- from individual home owners ... to railroad workers ... to New York state's highest ranking politicians. This particular railroad outage may have altered the tenor of New York state's political nominating convention of 1860, since the flood delays threw many of these politicians into close quarters for quite some time. They had more time to talk, debate, compromise, and think than they would have had otherwise ... on the brink of the state and federal election of 1860 that put major players in position for the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.

The New York Times
Nov. 16, 1887

Fatal Boiler Explosion

Utica, N. Y., Nov. 15 [1887]. -- The boiler of engine No. 496, drawing a live stock train on the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, exploded at Palatine Bridge at 8:50 A. M. today, killing the fireman, John GINGRASS, of Albany, and severely injuring Engineer William MITCHELL, also of Albany. The engineer was conscious, and at last accounts it was thought that he had a good chance for recovery. The engine had been run through from Rome to Palatine Bridge without taking water. The boiler had become dry and hot, and when cold water was let into it at Palatine Bridge the explosion occurred. It is reported that a brakeman who was on the engine was blown some distance, but escaped injury.

The New York Times
September 28, 1889

Frightful Accident on the New York Central.
Many Bodies Taken from the Wreck.
The Second Section of the St. Louis Express Plunges into the First
Section While Running Thirty Miles an Hour -- A Wagner Sleeping Car
Telescoped and Ground to Splinters.

CANAJOHARIE, N. Y., Sept. 27 [1889]. -- A terrible accident occurred on the New-York Central Road at 11:40 o'clock to-night, two miles east of Palatine Bridge. The first section of the St. Louis express, which left New-York at 6 o'clock, had broken down, an accident having happened to the steam chest, when the second section, which was composed of eight vestibule sleeping coaches, drawn by the sixty-ton engine No. 683, in charge of WILLIAM HORTH, and running at the rate of thirty miles an hour, dashed into it.

The first section was made up of Engine 714, (ENGINEER WEEKS and CONDUCTOR ABEL,) a baggage, mail, and express car, three passenger coaches, which were packed with people, one Wagner sleeper, and two private coaches.

The rear private coach, the Kankakee, telescoped the Wagner car of the first section, which was just ahead of it, to half its distance. The only damage caused to the ordinary passenger cars, which were between the sleepers and the locomotive, was in the smashing of windows and lamps.

After the crash the second section withdrew from the first section, but left a hole in the rear portion of the Kankakee big enough to place a boiler in. The first, third, and fourth tracks were littered with wreckage.

Just how the accident happened is at this hour, 1 o'clock, not determined. CONDUCTOR ABEL says his rear brakeman was sent back, but Conductor Horth, who is very badly hurt, has said that he did not see him, and the first he saw were the lights of the train.

HORTH is in a bad way. He had a pillow under his head, and his face was ghastly white. Some kind hands had placed a cushion under his legs and back. He was suffering great agony and could only mutter: "This is bad business, bad business." He lay on the ground, near the Montana of the second section.

When the crash came THE TIME'S correspondent was alseep in the coach next ahead of the sleeper of the first section. Every seat in the car was taken. One-half of the passengers were women. They made a wild break for the door, but were deterred from jumping out in the darkness by the cool-headed passengers.

The wreck could not have occurred in a more unfavorable place. On the left, in the pitchy darkness, and fifty feet below, was the roaring Mohawk.

Not a light could be seen except for those in the coaches. The lights in the sleepers had all been extinguised. One-half of the passengers were awakened from a sound sleep to find themselves wrapped in gloom. For a while the people were too dazed to do anything. The train men were reserved and mute as usual under such circumstances.

The first thing THE TIME'S correspondent did was to walk back to see if the rear lights of the first section were all right and the rear brakeman was in his place. Ten feet of the rear car had been cut away by the towering engine, which was hissing in the darkness fifty feet distant. Two of the passengers had got a light, and were searching about in the rain for the cause of the disaster.

The engine, No. 683, of the second section, one of the latest and heaviest engines on the road, was wrecked beyond redemption. The roof of the express car immediately behind it had sprung through the cab and thrown the engineer to the ground. The fireman, HENRY ANDERSON, had jumped and escaped uninjured. Beyond this the second section was not damaged at all, the heavy vestibule sleepers protecting it from telescoping.

It was the three rear heavy Wagner sleeping and private coaches of the first section that had sustained the shock and saved those three passenger coaches filled with men, women, and children from destruction.

There was not a surgeon or a doctor on the train, and it was with the greatest difficulty that whiskey and brandy were procured for the wounded. It was not till a large bonfire was built on the north side of the track that a realizing sense of the disaster was obtained. Already six wounded passengers, including one lady, had been taken from the Wagner sleeping car.

It was a pitiable sight to see the passengers, dazed, with fear in their faces, groping their way from the sleeping car. Gentle hands were ready to lead them aright, and after the first terror of the shock had passed away the women in the coaches fell to and worked as only women in an emergency can.

Axes and saws were procured and willing hands set to work to cut away the sides of the telescoped cars. How many bodies, if any, are left in there at this writing, are impossible to tell.

When THE TIME'S correspondent left the scene at midnight they had not made much progress. ENGINEER WEEKS of the first section said: "My engine had broken down, something had happened to the steam chest, and I was out by the side of my engine when the crash came. I immediately sent my fireman back to see what was the matter, and CONDUCTOR ABEL dispatched a flagman to Palatine Bridge, to miles away, for assistance."

THE TIME'S correspondent tried in vain before leaving to find the rear brakeman of the first train section, but could not find him. He is the most important person just now, for it was his duty, as prescribed by the rules of the company, to run back at least six hundred yards the moment the train stopped.

There is a discrepancy as to the length of time that the first section was standing there, some persons claiming that scarcely a moment had elapsed before the crash and others that they were standing fully five minutes.

The accident occured within sight of the home of the founder of the sleeping-car company, who had lost his life in the last bad accident on the road.

The first news to Palatine Bridge was brought by THE TIME'S correspondent and Mr. T. H. COLEMAN of Hornellsville, who covered the two miles over the railroad ties in less than half an hour.

The village was asleep, but Mr. COLEMAN, by the assistance of OFFICER BARRET, went from house to house awakening surgeons, who were hurried to the front as rapidly as vehicles could take them.

All trains east and west, freight and passenger, were held at Palatine. Within half an hour every doctor had gone forward, and assistance had been telegraphed to from [sic] Fonda and Little Falls.

It was just by a miracle that the disaster was not rendered tenfold more terrible.

Within five minutes after the crash the meat express came tearing along the fourth track at the rate of thirty miles an hour. It was stopped just in time, else it would have dashed into the debris of the wreck.

The second Atlanta Express, due in New-York at 7:30 in the morning, was also hailed at the station just as it was pulling out. A man just from the wreck says that they have already taken four bodies from the WAGNER sleeper.

The New York Times
May 6, 1892

William Whipple Unconscious with His Train Under Full Headway.

AMSTERDAM, N. Y., May 5 [1892]. -- A fast freight train thundered east on the tracks of the New York Central Railway this morning with an unconscious engineer dangling head and shoulders from the window of his cab. The fireman, busy piling coal into the furnace, called to his engineer, WILLIAM WHIPPLE, two or three times. Crossings swept by without the usual blast of the whistle, and the fireman stepped across the gangway to investigate.

Blood on the engineer's neck and on the cab seat attracted his attention. The engineer was unconscious. His face was bruised and torn. The train was approaching Fonda and the fireman had just time to shut off steam and signal for brakes. The engineer was lifted off at the station and conveyed to the Snell House. He is a single man, residing in Albany, and has been on the road a number of years.

The station men at Palatine Bridge say he waved his hand at them. The injury cannot be accounted for, because there is not a water column or other obstruction near the engineer's side of No. 1 track. Various theories have been offered. One is that a stone or brick was thrown by a tramp.

The engineer is unconscious to-night and is not likely to recover. His mother reached his bedside this afternoon and Dr. VAN DERVEER, from Albany, is expected to-night.

The New York Times
Feb. 18, 1900
Obituary Notes.

LEVI WAGNER, formerly freight agent of the New York Central Railroad at Palatine Bridge, and a brother-in-law of the late Senator WAGNER, died yesterday at his home in Canajoharie. He was eighty-three years old.

Contributor's Note: I question whether Levi Wagner was a brother-in-law to Webster Wagner, but that is how the notice reads. If Levi's last name was Wagner, it seems more likely he was a blood-relative of Webster, not an in-law.

The New York TImes
March 28, 1905

Mohawk River Ties Up Traffic on the New York Central.

FONDA, N. Y., March 27 [1905]. -- The Mohawk River is rising at the rate of nearly a foot an hour to-night. At 10 o'clock to-night this division of the New York Central Railroad was completely tied up. The water covered the tracks for several miles at various points between Schenectady and Little Falls, in some placed to a depth of five feet. Passenger trains are stalled in the water at Palatine Bridge and St. Johnsville, and the passengers will be forced to spend the night in the coaches. New York Central trains are being run over the West Shore Road, but are many hours late.

The New York Times
March 9, 1906

Engineer Badly Burned in Saving His Train -- The Cab Destroyed.

UTICA, March 8 [1906]. -- Engineer JAMES JACOBS runs the accommodation train on the Central Hudson road leaving this city for Albany at 5:25 A.M. This morning when the train was between Fort Plain and Palatine Bridge the engine cab caught fire. Soon the whole framework was blazing.

The train was at that time about three-quarters of a mile from Palatine Bridge. The engineer stuck to his post and decided to make the station if possible. The cab was ablaze on all sides when the station was reached. JACOBS was badly burned about the face and head, but his fireman had escaped over the tender soon after the blaze started. The cab of the engine was destroyed.

Back to Town of Palatine Page

Back to Montgomery County NYGenWeb

Created: 9/18/06
Updated: 11/22/06
Copyright © 2006 Barb Gese
All Rights Reserved.
This site is a county site of the USGenWeb Project!