No. 461
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
February 17, 2020

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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"Boston Globe," August 19, 1905, via Newspapers.com The true-crime writer F. Tennyson Jesse suggested that not only are some people "born murderers," others are "born murderees." It is when these two types of people happen to find each other that you get A Situation. It is an interesting theory, but one that tends to fall apart once you study murder cases. For example, it is hard to find
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Strange Company - 2/17/2020

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"Denver's Oldest Bar" matchbook cover outside cover - A (Click image to enlarge) new addition to my collection A matchbook cover from "Denver’s Oldest Bar" is a new acquisition to my private Soapy Smith collection. Though it is a "modern" item from the 1960s-70s, it has a direct link to Soapy Smith. "Denver’s Oldest Bar" was once controlled by Soapy, under the name, "Tivoli Club,
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 2/7/2020

Wherever rich New Yorkers built their homes in the 19th century, they also built private stables for their expensive horses and carriages—with upstairs living quarters for a coachman or groom. So when Upper Fifth Avenue along Central Park became the city’s new Millionaire Mile during the Gilded Age, certain Upper East Side blocks to the […]
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Ephemeral New York - 2/17/2020
Beginning on January 1st, W&W will begin featuring fascinating short clippings from the Fall River papers and other newspapers from …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 12/29/2019
Every day since Halloween 2007, the blog ExecutedToday.com has posted a story of an execution that took place on that date in history somewhere in the world. While this certainly says something about the human condition over time, it also says something about the determination and thoroughness of the blogger of ExecutedToday.com, who goes by the epithet Headsman. As someone who has scrambled to
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Murder By Gaslight - 2/15/2020

On this date in 1946,* communist Albania executed three former officials of its deposed wartime government. Fascist Italy occupied Albania during World War II. In a situation mirroring that of neighboring Yugoslavia, there were two resistance movements that sometimes maintained an uneasy truce and other times went straight at one another’s throats: the communist National […]
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Executed Today - 2/15/2020
[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
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.