No. 543
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
October 18, 2021

Thrilling Railroad Accident.

Startling accident at the draw bridge of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad, Federal Street, Troy,
November 6, 2017
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The "Memoirs" of Sir John Reresby (1634-1689) contain a reference to a minor witch trial which somehow morphed into one of the oddest "ghost" sightings on record: Leaving the public affairs for a while, at this untoward pass, I would venture to take notice of a private occurrence which made some noise at York. The assizes being there held on the 7th of March, 1686-7, an old woman was
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Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Ephemeral New York - 10/18/2021
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
A very anxious and excited man arrived at the jail in Ann Arbor, Michigan, around midnight, October 22, 1871. He told the jailer he was unwell and wanted to sleep in the jail that night. The jailor decided it was in everyone’s best interest to give him what he wanted. As he locked the cell door, the man burst out crying but would not say why. The following morning the jailor released him. The man
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Murder By Gaslight - 10/16/2021
First response from the Sourdough Associationto Jefferson R. Smith from Clara JohnsonJeff Smith collection(Click image to enlarge)     lease try to attend and thus forward the spirit of the Sourdough." Soapy Smith's son contacts the Sourdough Reunion, 1951      Seventy years ago, at some date previous to February 15, 1951, Soapy Smith's son, sixty-five year old Jefferson Randolph Smith III
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 9/17/2021
Packed Away in a Trunk. | A Duel on Horseback.

Thrilling Railroad Accident.

Startling Accident

Startling accident at the draw bridge of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad, Federal Street, Troy, N. Y., Saturday, Sept 23. [more]

One of the most singular accidents we have ever been called on to illustrate came off on the Saratoga and Rensselaer Railroad on the night of the 23d of September. At about 7 o'clock the sleeping car train was on its way from Green Island at abort the time that the draw near the Troy shore was opened to admit the passage of the steamboat McAllister towing a raft. The red light was lowered to indicate that the draw was but still on rushed the train. As It passed the opening between the bridge on Starbucks Island, Joseph Lawrence, of the Central Road, saw that the draw was open, and shouted to the engineer to stop. He did not do so, and Mr. Lawrence, jumping on the last car, put down the brake, but could not prevent the result. He partially checked the train, to that the engine did not take the leap it otherwise would have done through the open draw. The passenger car followed, and in the fall was turned completely around, while the sloping car hung halfway, suspended has Mahomet's coffin.

It was very dark at the time, but the woodwork of the engine caught fire and lit up the scene with an unearthly glare, while the escaping steam made a deafening noise, suggestive of explosion and danger. River street was filled with people, and there was a general rush down the dock to the scene. Fortunately, the raft had floated down to the wreck, forming a bridge by which it could be reached.

An alarm of fire called out the people, who came to the dock by hundreds and thousands to gaze at the ruins amid the darkness. Efforts were immediately commenced to raise the suspended car. This was accomplished by jacks and tackles from the bridge, when the draw was closed, and travel won resumed.

The most remarkable part of the occurrences is that no lives were lost.


Reprinted from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, October 14, 1869.