Tag: 1866

The Railroad Engineer

From The Aegis & Intelligencer, March 30, 1866

One of our railroad engineers, some years since, was running an express train of ten well filled cars. It was in the night and a very dark night too. His train was behind time, he was putting the engine to the utmost speed of which it was capable, in order to reach a certain point at the proper hour, he was running on a straight and level hack, and at this unusual velocity, when a conviction struck him that he must stop. “A something seemed to tell me,” he said, “that, to go on was dangerous, and that I must stop if I would save life.

I looked back at my train and it was all right. I strained my eyes and peered into the darkness, and could see no signal of danger, nor anything betokening danger, and there in the daytime I could have seen five miles. I listened to the working of my engine, tried the water, looked at the scales, and all was right.— I tried to laugh myself out of what I then considered a foolish fear; but like Banquo’s ghost, it would not down at my bidding, but grew stronger in its hold upon me. I thought of the ridicule I would have heaped upon me if I did stop but it was of no avail.

The conviction—for by this time it had ripened into a conviction—that I must stop, grew stronger, and I resolved to stop. I shut oil, blew the whistle for brakes accordingly. I came to a dead halt, got out and went ahead a little without saying anything to anybody what was the matter. I had a lamp in my hand and had gone about sixty feet, when I saw what convinced me that premonitions are sometimes possible. I dropped the lantern from my nervous grasp, and sat down on the track utterly unable to stand.”

He goes on to tell us that there he found that some one had drawn a spike which had long fastened a switch rail, and opened a switch which had always been kept locked, which led on to a track —only about one hundred and fifty feet long which terminated in a stone quarry! “Here it was wide open, and had I not obeyed my premonitory warning—call it what you will—l should have run into it, and at tho end of the track, only about ten rods long, my heavy engine and train moving at the rate of forty-five miles an hour, would have come into collision with a solid wall of rock eighteen feet high.


Source: The aegis & intelligencer. [volume] (Bel Air, Md.), 30 March 1866. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016107/1866-03-30/ed-1/seq-1/>

Mining Under the Sea

From The Aegis & Intelligencer, March 30, 1866

Some of the coal and copper mines of England are at this time being worked in what appears to he a most singularly dangerous manner. They extend out four hundred yards (near a quarter of a mile) under the bed of the sea, and, in some places two hundred and sixty feet below the level. The beating of the waves against the shores and rocks is distinctly audible, even in calm weather when the explorer gets near the sea level. When storms arise the roar is terrible, and the boldest of men are at times afraid to work lest the sea should break through and fill the mine. Nor is this fear without great cause, for the salt water actually oozes through, and drips, impregnated with the copper ore, into the mine. Three feet of rock is about all that is left, on an average, between the mine and the sea in many galleries. A day’s work in the wrong place with the pickaxe might cause the destruction of the whole works. Indeed, in stormy weather, the salt water jets and spurts through in thin continuous streams. Plugs, sometimes the thickness of a man s leg, alone standing between the miner and the sea to keep it out. — No accident has ever yet happened, but those who remember the Thames Tunnel, twice or thrice filled with water, must feel that some day an accident is almost certain to happen. If it should, the  damage must be immense, and the loss of life great and certain. The veins of copper, however, are rich, and men will follow them to their uttermost, the proprietors of the mines feeling that were an invasion of the water to take place they could slop the leak, as Mr. Brunel did that of the Thames Tunnel, by sinking bags of clay over the hole, and then pumping out the water with their enormous engines.

The consequences, had I done so, can neither be imagined or described, but they could by no possibility have been otherwise than fatally horrible. No one can here doubt of a special interposition of God by which from calamity most terrible, hundreds of lives were wonderfully spared —Home Monthly


Source: The aegis & intelligencer. [volume] (Bel Air, Md.), 30 March 1866. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016107/1866-03-30/ed-1/seq-1/>

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