Railway Adventures and Anecdotes - extending over more than fifty years
Author: Various
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The planter revolved the matter in his mind for a moment and exclaimed:—

"You'll guarantee the alteration?"

"Give a written document."

"Then it's a bargain."

The planter without more delay gave Beau an order on his city factor for the stipulated sum, and received in exchange a written document, guaranteeing the freedom of the kitchen from any encroachment by the C. L. R. R. Co.

Before leaving, Beau took the planter on one side and requested him not to disclose their bargain until after the railroad was built.

"You see, it mightn't exactly suit the views of some people—partiality, you know."

The last remark, accompanied by a suggestive wink, was returned by the planter in a similar demonstration of owlishness.

Beau resumed his theodolite, drove a few stakes on the hill opposite, and proceeded onward in the fulfilment of his duties. As his light figure receded into obscurity and the distance, the planter caught a sound vastly like 40—40—120—200.—And that was the last he ever heard of the railroad.

Appleton's American Railway Anecdote Book.


Mr. Spencer Walpole remarks:—"Of Mr. Buckland's Christ Church days many good stories are told. Almost every one has heard of the bear which he kept at his rooms, of its misdemeanours, and its rustication. Less familiar, perhaps, is the story of his first journey by the Great Western. The dons, alarmed at the possible consequences of a railway to London, would not allow Brunel to bring the line nearer than to Didcot. Dean Buckland in vain protested against the folly of this decision, and the line was kept out of harm's way at Didcot. But, the very day on which it was opened, Mr. Frank Buckland, with one or two other undergraduates, drove over to Didcot, travelled up to London, and returned in time to fulfil all the regulations of the university. The Dean, who was probably not altogether displeased at the joke, told the story to his friends who had prided themselves in keeping the line from Oxford. 'Here,' he said, 'you have deprived us of the advantage of a railway, and my son has been up to London.'"


"Well, Snooks," began the Agent for the Promoters, in cross-examination, "you signed the petition against the Bill—aye?"

"Yees, zur. I zined summit, zur."

"But that petition—did you sign that petition?"

"I do'ant nar, zur; I zined zummit, zur."

"But don't you know the contents of the petition?"

"The what, zur?"

"The contents; what's in it."

"Oa! Noa, zur."

"You don't know what's in the petition!—Why, ain't you the petitioner himself?"

"Noa, zur, I doan't nar that I be, zur."

["Snooks! Snooks! Snooks!" issued a voice from a stout and benevolent-looking elderly gentleman from behind, "how can you say so, Snooks? It's your petition." The prompting, however, seemed to produce but little impression upon him for whom it was intended, whatever effect it may have had upon the minds of those whose ears it reached, but for whose service it was not intended].

"Really, Mr. Chairman," observed the Agent for the Bill, who appeared to have no idea of Burking the inquiry, "this is growing interesting."

"The interest is all on your side," remarked the Agent for the petition (against the Bill).

"Now, Snooks," continued the Agent for the Bill, "apply your mind to the questions I shall put to you, and let me caution you to reply to them truly and honestly. Now, tell me—who got you to sign this petition?"

"I object to the question," interposed the Agent for the petition. "The matter altogether is descending into mean, trivial, and unnecessary details, which I am surprised my friend opposite should attempt to trouble the Committee with."

"I can readily understand, sir," replied the other, "why my friend is so anxious to get rid of this inquiry—simple and short as it will be; but I trust, sir, that you will consider it of sufficient importance to allow it to proceed. I purpose to put only a few questions more on this extraordinary petition against the Bill (the bare meaning of the name of which the petitioner does not seem to understand) for the purpose of eliciting some further information respecting it."

The Committee being thus appealed to by both parties, inclined their heads for a few moments in order to facilitate a communication in whispers, and then decided that the inquiry might proceed. It was evident that the matter had excited an interest in the minds and breasts of the honourable members of the Committee; created as much perhaps by the extreme mean and poverty-stricken appearance of the witness—a miserable, dirty, and decrepit old man—as by the disclosures he had already made.

"Well, Snooks, I was about to ask you (when my friend interrupted me) who got you to sign the petition, or that zummit as you call it?"

"Some genelmen, zur."

"Who were they—do you know their names?"

"Noa, zur, co'ant say I do nar 'em a', zur."

"But do you know any of them, was that gentleman behind you one?"

[The gentleman referred to was the fine benevolent-looking individual who had previously kindly endeavoured to assist the witness in his answers, and who stood the present scrutiny with marked composure and complaisance].

"Yees, zur, he war one on 'em."

"Do you know his name?"

"Noa, zur, I doant; but he be one of the railway genelmen."

"What did he say to you, when he requested you to sign the petition?"

"He said I ware to zine (pointing to the petition) that zummit."

"When and where, pray, did you sign it?"

"A lot o' railway genelmen kum to me on Sunday night last; and they wo' make me do it, zur."

"On Sunday night last, aye!"

"What, on Sunday night!" exclaimed one honourable member on the extreme right of the Chairman, with horror depicted on his countenance; "are you sure, witness, that it was done in the evening of a Sabbath?"

"The honourable member asks you, whether you are certain that you were called upon by the railway gentlemen to sign the petition on a Sunday evening? I think you told me last Sunday evening."

"Oa, yees, zur; they kum just as we war a garing to chapel."

"Disgraceful, and wrong in the extreme!" ejaculated the honourable member.

"And did not that gentleman" (continued the Agent for the Bill), "nor any of the railway gentlemen, as you call them, when they requested you to sign, explain the nature and contents of the petition?"

"Noa, zur."

"Then you don't know at this moment what it's for?"

"Noa, zur."

"Of course, therefore, it's not your petition as set forth?"

"I doant nar, zur. I zined zummit."

"Now, answer me, do you object to this line of railway? Have you any dislike to it?"

"O, noa, zur. I shud loak to zee it kum."

"Exactly, you should like to see it made. So you have been led to petition against it, though you are favourable to it?"

The petitioner against the Bill did not appear to comprehend the precise drift of the remark, and his only reply to the wordy fix into which the learned agent had drawn him was made in the dumb-show of scratching with his one disengaged hand (the other being employed in holding his hat) his uncombed head—an operation that created much laughter, which was not damped by the Agent's putting, with a serious face, a concluding question or remark to him to the effect that he presumed he (the witness) had not paid, or engaged to pay, so many guineas a day to his friend on the other side for the prosecution of the opposition against the Bill—had he; yes, or no? The witness's appearance was the only and best answer.

The petition, of course, upon this expose, was withdrawn.

This, the substance of what actually took place before one of the Sub-Committees on Standing orders will give some idea of the nature of many of the petitions against Railway Bills, especially on technical points. It will serve to show in some measure what heartless mockeries these petitions mostly are; the moral evils they give birth to—and that, even while complaining of errors, they are themselves made up of falsehood.


A happy comment on the annihilation of time and space by locomotive agency, is as follows:—A little child who rode fifty miles in a railway train, and then took a coach to her uncle's house, some five miles further, was asked on her arrival if she came by the cars. "We came a little way in the cars, and all the rest of the way in a carriage."


It is related of Colonel Thomas A. Scott, that on one occasion, when making one of his swift trips over the American lines under his control, his train was stopped by the wreck of a goods train. There was a dozen heavily loaded covered trucks piled up on the road, and it would take a long time to get help from the nearest accessible point, and probably hours more to get the track cleared by mere force of labour. He surveyed the difficulty, made a rough calculation of the cost of a total destruction of the freight, and promptly made up his mind to burn the road clear. By the time the relief train came the flames had done their work and nothing remained but to patch up a few injuries done to the track so as to enable him to pursue his way.


My treatment in the use of public conveyances about these times was extremely rough, especially on "The Eastern Railroad," from Boston to Portland. On the road, as on many others, there was a mean, dirty, and uncomfortable car set apart for coloured travellers, called the "Jim Crow" car. Regarding this as the fruit of slaveholding prejudice, and being determined to fight the spirit of slavery wherever I might find it, I resolved to avoid this car, though it sometimes required some courage to do so. The coloured people generally accepted the situation, and complained of me as making matters worse rather than better, by refusing to submit to this proscription. I, however, persisted, and sometimes was soundly beaten by the conductor and brakeman. On one occasion, six of these "fellows of the baser sort," under the direction of the conductor, set out to eject me from my seat. As usual, I had purchased a first-class ticket, and paid the required sum for it, and on the requirement of the conductor to leave, refused to do so, when he called on these men "to snake me out." They attempted to obey with an air which plainly told me they relished the job. They, however, found me much attached to my seat, and in removing me tore away two or three of the surrounding ones, on which I held with a firm grasp, and did the car no service in some respects. I was strong and muscular, and the seats were not then so firmly attached or of as solid make as now. The result was that Stephen A. Chase, superintendent of the road, ordered all passenger trains to pass through Lynn, where I then lived, without stopping. This was a great inconvenience to the people, large numbers of whom did business in Boston, and at other points of the road. Led on, however, by James N. Buffum, Jonathon Buffum, Christopher Robinson, William Bassett, and others, the people of Lynn stood bravely by me, and denounced the railway management in emphatic terms. Mr. Chase made reply that a railroad corporation was neither a religious nor a reformatory body; and that the road was run for the accommodation of the public; and that it required the exclusion of the coloured people from its cars. With an air of triumph he told us that we ought not to expect a railroad company to be better than the Evangelical Church, and that until the churches abolished the "negro pew," we ought not to expect the railroad company to abolish the negro car. This argument was certainly good enough as against the Church, but good for nothing as against the demands of justice and equity. My old and dear friend, J. N. Buffum, made a point against the company that they "often allowed dogs and monkeys to ride in first-class cars, and yet excluded a man like Frederick Douglass!" In a very few years this barbarous practice was put away, and I think there have been no instances of such exclusion during the past thirty years; and coloured people now, everywhere in New England, ride upon equal terms with other passengers.

Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.


The elder Dumas was at the railway station, just starting to join his yacht at Marseilles. Several friends had accompanied him, to say good-bye. Suddenly he was informed that he had a hundred and fifty kilogrammes excess of luggage. "Ho, ho!" cried Dumas. "How many kilogrammes are allowed?" "Thirty for each person," was the reply. Silently he made a mental calculation, and then in a tone of triumph bade his secretary take places for five. "In that way," he explained, "we shall have no excess."


Among the improvements that have been carried out at Windsor during the autumn, has been an entire alteration in the draining of the Home Park about Frogmore. New drains have been laid, and the waste earth has been used to level the ground. This portion of the Royal domain was almost wild at the beginning of the present reign. It consisted of fields, with low hedges and deep ditches, and was intersected by a road, on which stood several cottages and a public-house. It was quite an eyesore, and Prince Albert was at his wit's end to know how to convert it into a park and exclude the public, as before this could be done, it was necessary to make a new road in place of the one it was desired to abolish, and altogether a large outlay was inevitable; and even in those days, it was out of the question to apply to Parliament for the amount required, which, I believe, was about 80,000 pounds.

The difficulty, however, was solved in rather a strange way. In the early days of railroads they were looked upon as nuisances, and the authorities at Windsor Castle were firmly resolved that no line should approach the Royal borough, in which resolution they were warmly supported by the equally stupid and short-sighted managers of Eton College. Although the inhabitants sighed for a railway, none was brought nearer than Slough. At this moment, when the park question was being agitated, the South Western Directors brought forward a proposition that they should make a line into Windsor, running along one side of the Home Park, and right under the Castle. This audacious idea was regarded with indignation at the Castle, until a hint was received that possibly, if Royal interest were forthcoming to support the plan, the Company might be able to facilitate the proposed alterations; and it then came out, strangely enough, they had fixed the precise sum needed (80,000 pounds) as compensation for the disturbance of the Royal property. No more was heard of the objections to the scheme, which had been so vehemently denounced a few days before, but, no sooner did it transpire that the South-Western plan was not opposed by the Castle interest than down came the Great-Western authorities in a fever of indignation, for it appeared they had received an explicit promise that, if Windsor was ever desecrated by a railway, they should have the preference. So resolute was their attitude, that so far as I remember, the sitting of Parliament was actually protracted in order that their Bill might be passed; not that they got it without paying, for they gave 20,000 pounds for an old stable and yard which were required for their station, and which happened to stand on Crown property. Things were sometimes managed strangely enough in those days.

Truth, Dec. 29, 1881.


A lady of fashion with a pugdog and a husband entered the train at Paddington the other day. There were in the carriage but two persons, a well-known Professor and his wife; yet the lady of fashion coveted, not indeed his chair, but his seat. "I wish to sit by the window, sir," she said, imperiously, and he had to move accordingly. "No, sir, that won't do," she said, as he meekly took the next place. "I can't have a stranger sitting close to me. My husband must sit where you are."

Gentleman's Magazine.


About an hour after midnight, on our journey from Boston to Albany, we came to a sudden pause where no station was visible; and immediately, very much to my surprise, the engine-driver, conductor, and several passengers were seen sallying forth with lanterns, and hastening down the embankment on our right. "What are they going to do now?" said I to a gentleman, who, like myself, kept his seat. "Only to take a look at some cars that were smashed this morning," was the reply. On opening the window to observe the state of affairs, as well as the darkness would allow, there, to be sure, at the bottom and along the side of the high bank, lay an unhappy train, just as it had been upset. The locomotive on its side was partly buried in the earth; and the cars which had followed it in its descent lay in a confused heap behind. On the top of the bank, near to us, the last car of all stood obliquely on end, with its hind wheels in the air in a somewhat grotesque and threatening attitude. All was now still and silent. The killed and wounded, if there were any, had been removed. No living thing was visible but the errant engineer and others from our train clambering with lanterns in their hands over a prostrate wreck, and with heedless levity passing critical remarks on the catastrophe. Curiosity being satisfied all resumed their places, and the train moved on without a murmur of complaint as to the unnecessary, and, considering the hour, very undesirable delay. I allude to the circumstance, as one of a variety of facts that fell within my observation, illustrative of the singular degree of patience and imperturbability with which railway travellers in America submit uncomplainingly to all sorts of detentions on their journey.

Things as they are in America, by W. Chambers, 1853.


Dana Krum, one of the conductors on the Erie Railway, was approached before train time by an unknown man, who spoke to him as if he had known him for years. "I say, Dana," said he, "I have forgotten my pass, and I want to go to Susquehanna; I am a fireman on the road, you know." But the conductor told him he ought to have a pass with him. It was the safest way. Pretty soon, Dana came along to collect tickets. Seeing his man, he spoke when he reached him. "Say, my friend, have you got the time with you?" "Yes," said he, as he pulled out a watch, "it is twenty minutes past nine." "Oh, it is, is it? Now, if you don't show me your pass or fare, I will stop the train. There is no railway man that I ever saw who would say 'Twenty minutes past nine.' He would say, 'Nine-twenty.'" He settled.


A correspondent of the Chicago Journal relates the following feat of strength, to which he was witness:—

"On Sunday, about nine o'clock A.M., as the train westward was within three or four miles of Chicago, on the Fort Wayne road, a horse was discovered on the stilt-work between the rails. The train was stopped, and workmen were sent to clear the track. It was then discovered that the body of the horse was resting on the sleepers. His legs having passed through the open spaces, were too short to reach the ground. Boards and rails were brought, and the open space in front of the horse filled up, making a plank road for him in case he should be got up, and by means of ropes one of his fore feet was raised, and there matters came to a halt. It seemed that no strength or stratagem could avail to release the animal. Levers of boards were splintered, and the men tugged at the ropes in vain, when a passenger, who was looking quietly on, stepped forward, leisurely slipped off a pair of tinted kids, seized the horse by the tail, and with tremendous force hurled him forward on the plank road. No one assisted, and, indeed, the whole thing was done so quickly that assistance was impossible. The horse walked away looking foolish, and casting suspicious side-glances towards his caudal extremity. The lookers-on laughed and shouted, while the stranger resumed his kids, muttering something about the inconvenience of railway delays, lit a cigar, and walked slowly into the smoking car. He was finely formed, of muscular appearance, was very fashionably dressed, wore a moustache and whiskers of an auburn or reddish colour, and to all questions as to who he was, only answered that he was a Pennsylvanian travelling westward for his health. The horse would certainly weigh at least twelve hundred."


A branch of the Bombay presidency runs through a wild region, the inhabitants of which are unsophisticated savages, addicted to thievery. The first day the line was opened a number of these Arcadians conspired to intercept the train, and have a glorious loot. To accomplish their object they placed some trunks of trees across the rails; but the engine driver, keeping a very sharp look out, as it happened to be his first trip on the line in question, descried the trunks while yet they were at a considerable distance from him. The breaks were then put on, and when the locomotive had approached within a couple of feet of the trunks it was brought to a standstill. Then, instantaneously, like Roderick Dhu's clansmen starting from the heather, natives, previously invisible, swarmed up on all sides, and, crowding into the carriages, began to pillage and plunder everything they could lay their hands upon. While they were thus engaged, the guard gave the signal to the driver, who at once reversed his engine and put it to the top of its speed. The reader may judge of the consternation of the robbers when they found themselves whirled backwards at a pace that rendered escape impossible. Some poor fellows that attempted it were killed on the spot.

Central India Times, June 22, 1867.


In an Episcopal church in the north, not one hundred miles from Keith, a porter employed during the week at the railway station, does duty on Sunday by blowing the bellows of the organ. The other Sunday, wearied by the long hours of railway attendance, combined, it may be, with the soporific effects of a dull sermon, he fell sound asleep during the service, and so remained when the pealing of the organ was required. He was suddenly and rather rudely awakened by another official when apparently dreaming of an approaching train, as he started to his feet and roared out, with all the force and shrillness of stentorian lungs and habit, "Change here for Elgin, Lossiemouth, and Burghead." The effect upon the congregation, sitting in expectation of a concord of sweet sounds, may be imagined—it is unnecessary to describe it.

Dumfries Courier, 1866.


We have always thought that, except to lawyers and railway carriage and locomotive builders, railway accidents were great misfortunes, but it is evident we were wrong and we hasten to acknowledge our error. Speaking on Thursday with a respectable broker about the heavy damages (2,000 pounds) given the day before on account of the Tottenham accident against the Eastern Counties Company in the Court of Exchequer, he observed, "It is rather good when these things happen as it moves the stock. I have had an order for some days to buy Eastern Counties at 56 and could not do it, but this verdict has sent them down one per cent., and enabled me now to buy it." With all our railway experience we never dreamt of such a benefit as this accruing from railway accidents, but it is evidently among the possibilities.

Herepath's Railway Journal, June 7th, 1860.


A gentleman who was in a railway collision in 1869, wrote to the Times in November of that year. After stating that he had been threatened with a violent attack of rheumatic fever; in fact, he observed, "my condition so alarmed me, and my dread of a sojourn in a Manchester hotel bed for two or three months was so great, that I resolved to make a bold sortie and, well wrapped up, start for London by the 3.30 p.m. Midland fast train. From the time of leaving that station to the time of the collision, my heart was going at express speed; my weak body was in a profuse perspiration; flashes of pain announced that the muscular fibres were under the tyrannical control of rheumatism, and I was almost beside myself with toothache. From the moment of the collision to the present hour no ache, pain, sweat, or tremor has troubled me in the slightest degree, and instead of being, as I expected, and indeed intended, in bed drinking tinct. aurantii, or absorbing through my pores oil of horse-chestnut, I am conscientiously bound to be at my office bodily sound. Don't print my name and address, or the Midland Company may come down upon me for compensation."


In the course of his peregrinations, the railway traveller may find himself in some out-of-the-way place, where no regular vehicle can be obtained to convey him to the station, and this contretemps is aggravated when the time of departure happens to be early in the morning. Captain B—, a man of restless energy and adventurous spirit, emerged early one morning from a hovel in a distant village, where from stress of weather he had been compelled to pass the night. It was just dawn of day, and within an hour of the train he wished to go by would start from the station, about six miles distant. He had with him a portmanteau, which it would be impossible for him to carry within the prescribed time, but which he could not very well leave behind. Pondering on what he should do, his eye lighted on a likely looking horse grazing in a field hard by, while in the next field there was a line extended between two posts, for the purpose of drying clothes upon. The sight of these objects soon suggested the plan for him to adopt. In an instant he detached the line, and then taking a piece of bread from his pocket, coaxed the animal to approach him. Captain B— was an adept in the management of horses, and as a rough rider, perhaps, had no equal. In a few seconds he had, by the aid of a portion of the line, arranged his portmanteau pannier-wise across the horse's back, and forming a bridle with the remaining portion of the line, he led his steed into the lane, and sprang upon his back. The horse rather relished the trip than otherwise, and what with the unaccustomed burden, and the consciousness that he was being steered by a knowing hand, he sped onwards at a terrific pace. While in mid career, one of the mounted police espied the captain coming along the road at a distance; recognizing the horse, but not knowing the rider, and noticing also the portmanteau, and the uncouth equipment, this rural guardian of the peace came to the conclusion that this was a case of robbery and horse stealing; and as the captain neared him, he endeavoured to stop him, and stretched forth his hand to seize the improvised bridle, but the gallant equestrian laughed to scorn the impotent attempt, and shook him off, and shot by him. Thus foiled, the policeman had nothing to do than to give chase; so turning his horse's head he followed in full cry. The clatter and shouts of pursuer and pursued brought forth the inhabitants of the cottages as they passed, and many of these joined in the chase. Never since Turpin's ride to York, or Johnny Gilpin's ride to Edmonton, had there been such a commotion caused by an equestrian performance. To make a long story short, the captain reached the station in ample time; an explanation ensued; a handsome apology was tendered to the patrol, and a present equally handsome was forwarded, together with the abstracted property, to the joint owner of the horse and the clothes-line.


In the year 1868, Mr. Raphael Brandon brought out a book called Railways and the Public. In it he proposes that the railways should be purchased and worked by the government; and that passengers, like letters, should travel any distance at a fixed charge. He calculates that a threepenny stamp for third-class, a sixpenny stamp for second-class, and a shilling stamp for first-class, should take a passenger any distance whether long or short. With the adoption of the scheme, he believes, such an impetus would be given to passenger traffic that the returns would amount to more than double what they are at present. There may be flaws in Mr. Brandon's theory, yet it may be within the bounds of possibility that some great innovator may rise up and do for the travelling public by way of organization what Sir Rowland Hill has done for the postage of the country by the penny stamp.


The above question was asked by a man of his friend who had been injured in a railway accident, "I am first going in for repairs, and then for damages," was the answer.


The manager of one of the great Indian railways, in addressing a European subordinate given to indulge in needless strong language, wrote as follows:—"Dear sir, it is with extreme regret that I have to bring to your notice that I observed very unprofessional conduct on your part this morning when making a trial trip. I allude to the abusive language you used to the drivers and others. This I consider an unwarrantable assumption of my duties and functions, and, I may say, rights and privileges. Should you wish to abuse any of our employes, I think it will be best in future to do so in regular form, and I beg to point out what I consider this to be. You will please to submit to me, in writing, the form of oath you wish to use, when, if it meets my approval, I shall at once sanction it; but if not, I shall refer the same to the directors; and, in the course of a few weeks, their decision will be known. Perhaps, to save time, it might be as well for you to submit a list of the expletives generally in use by you, and I can then at once refer those to which I object to the directors for their decision. But, pending that, you will please to understand that all cursing and swearing at drivers and others engaged on the traffic arrangements in which you may wish to indulge must be done in writing, and through me. By adopting this course you will perceive how much responsibility you will save yourself, and how very much the business of the company will be expedited, and its interests promoted."


In the Railway Traveller's Handy Book, there is an account of an occurrence which took place on the Eastern Counties line:—"A big hulking fellow, with bully written on his face, took his seat in a second-class carriage, and forthwith commenced insulting everybody by his words and gestures. He was asked to desist, but only responded with language more abusive. The guard was then appealed to, who told him to mind what he was about, shut the door, and cried 'all right.' Thus encouraged the miscreant continued his disgraceful conduct, and became every moment more outrageous. In one part of the carriage were four farmers sitting who all came from the same neighbourhood, and to whom every part along the line was well known. One of these wrote on a slip of paper these words, 'Let us souse him in Chuckley Slough.' This paper was handed from one to the other, and each nodded assent. Now, Chuckley Slough was a pond near one of the railway stations, not very deep, but the waters of which were black, muddy, and somewhat repellent to the olfactory nerves. The station was neared and arrived at; in the meantime the bully's conduct became worse and worse. As they emerged from the station, one of the farmers, aforesaid, said to the fellow, 'Now, will you he quiet?' 'No, I won't,' was the answer. 'You won't, won't you?' asked a second farmer. 'You're determined you won't?' inquired a third. 'You're certain you won't?' asked the fourth. To all of which queries the response was in negatives, with certain inelegant expletives added thereto. 'Then,' said the four farmers speaking as one man, and rising in a body, 'out you go.' So saying, they seized the giant form of the wretch, who struggled hard to escape but to no purpose; they forced him to the window, and while the train was still travelling at a slow pace, and Chuckley Slough appeared to view, they without more ado thrust the huge carcass through the window, and propelling it forward with some force, landed it exactly in the centre of the black, filthy slough. The mingled cries and oaths of the man were something fearful to hear; his attempts at extrication and incessant slipping still deeper in the mire, something ludicrous to witness; all the passengers watched him with feelings of gratified revenge, and the last that was seen of him was a huge black mass, having no traces of humanity about it, crawling up the bank in a state of utter prostration. In this instance the remedy was rather a violent one; but less active measures had been found to fail, and there can be little doubt that this man took care ever afterwards not to run the risk of a similar punishment by indulging in conduct of a like nature."


There have been cases where claims have been made and recovered in courts of law for loss arising from delay in the arrival of trains, but the law does not render the company's liability unlimited. A remarkable case occurred not long since. A Mr. Le Blanche sued the London and North-Western Company for the cost of a special train to Scarborough, which he had ordered in consequence of his being brought from Liverpool to Leeds, too late for the ordinary train from Leeds to Scarborough. A judgment in the county court was given in favour of the applicant.

The railway company appealed to the superior court, and the points raised were argued by able counsel, when the decision of the county court judge was confirmed. The company was determined to put the case to the utmost possible test, and on appealing to the Supreme Court of Judicature the judgment was reversed, the decision being to the effect that, whilst there was some evidence of wilful delay, the measure of damage was wrong.

Our Railways, by Joseph Parsloe.


Doubts have been expressed whether our iron ships will ever be regarded in the same affectionate way as "liners" used to be regarded by our "old salts." It has been supposed that the latest creations of science will not nourish sentiment. The following anecdote shows, however, as romantic an attachment to iron as was ever manifested towards wood. On the Great Western Railway, the broad gauge and the narrow gauge are mixed; the former still existing to the delight of travellers by the "Flying Dutchman," whatever economical shareholders may have to say to the contrary. The officials who have been longest on the staff also cling to the broad gauge, like faithful royalists to a fast disappearing dynasty. The other day an ancient guard on this line was knocked down and run over by an engine; and though good enough medical attendance was at hand, had skill been of any use, the dying man wished to see "the company's" doctor. The gentleman, a man much esteemed by all the employes, was accordingly sent for. "I am glad you came to see me start, doctor, (as I hope) by the up-train," said the poor man. "I am only sorry I can do nothing for you, my good fellow," answered the other. "I know that; it is all over with me. But there!—I'm glad it was not one of them narrow-gauge engines that did it!"

Gentleman's Magazine.


An Illinois captain, lately a railroad conductor, was drilling a squad, and while marching them by flank, turned to speak to a friend for a moment. On looking again toward his squad, he saw they were in the act of "butting up" against a fence. In his hurry to halt them, he cried, "Down brakes! Down brakes!"


This station on the Midland system is often a source of no little perplexity to strangers. Sir Edward Beckett thus humorously describes it:—"You arrive at Trent. Where that is I cannot tell. I suppose it is somewhere near the river Trent, but then the Trent is a very long river. You get out of your train to obtain refreshment, and having taken it, you endeavour to find your train and your carriage. But whether it is on this side or that, and whether it is going north or south, this way or that way, you cannot tell. Bewildered, you frantically rush into your carriage; the train moves off round a curve, and then you are horrified to see some lights glaring in front of you, and you are in immediate expectation of a collision, when your fellow-passenger calms your fears by telling you that they are only the tail lamps of your own train."


The first steel rail was made in 1857, by Mushet, at the Ebbw-Vale Iron Co.'s works in South Wales. It was rolled from cast blooms of Bessemer steel and laid down at Derby, England, and remained sixteen years, during which time 250 trains and at least 250 detached engines and tenders passed over it daily. Taking 312 working days in each year, we have the total of 1,252,000 trains and 1,252,000 detached engines and tenders which passed over it from the time it was first laid before it was removed to be worked over.

The substitution of steel for iron, to an extent rendered possible by the Bessemer process, has worked a great and abiding change in the condition of our ways, giving greater endurance both in respect of wear and in resistance to breaking strains and jars.

Two steel rails of twenty-one feet in length were laid on the 2nd of May, 1862, at the Chalk Farm Bridge, side by side with two ordinary rails. After having outlasted sixteen faces of the ordinary rails, the steel ones were taken up and examined, and it was found that at the expiration of three years and three months, the surface was evenly worn to the extent of only a little more than a quarter of an inch, and to all appearance they were capable of enduring a great deal more work. The result of this trial was to induce the London and North Western to enter very extensively into the employment of steel rails.

Knight's Dictionary of Mechanics.


Out of three truck loads of cattle on the Great Western Railway two of the animals were struck dead by the lightning on Monday afternoon, July 5, 1852, not very far from Swindon. What renders it remarkable is, that one animal only in each of the two trucks was struck, and five or six animals in each escaped uninjured. The animal killed in one of the trucks was a bull, the cows escaping injury, and in the other truck it was a bull or an ox that was killed.


A correspondent, writing to the Derbyshire Courier the week following the Stephenson Centenary celebration at Chesterfield, remarks:—"The other day I met a kindly and venerable gentleman who possesses quite a fund of anecdotes relating to the Stephensons, father and son. It appears we have, or had, relations of old George residing in Derby. Years ago, says my friend, an old gentleman, who by his appearance and carriage was stamped as a man distinguished among his fellow-men, was inquiring on Derby platform for a certain engine-driver in the North Midland or the Birmingham and Derby service, whose name he gave. On the driver being pointed out, the gentleman, with the rough but pleasing north-country burr in his voice, said, after asking his name, "Did you marry —?" "Yes, sir." "Then she's my niece, and I hope you'll make her a good husband. I have not had the chance of giving you a wedding present until now." Then slipping into his hand a bank note for 50 pounds, he talked of other matters. The joy of the engine-driver at receiving so welcome a present was not greater than being recognised and kindly received by his wife's illustrious uncle, George Stephenson."


It's a small matter, but a gentleman always feels angry at himself after he has given up his seat, in a railway car, to a female who lacks the good manners to acknowledge the favour. The following "hint" to the ladies will show that a trifle of politeness properly spread on, often has a happy effect.

The seats were all full, one of which was occupied by a rough-looking Irishman; and at one of the stations a couple of evidently well-bred and intelligent young ladies came in to procure seats, but seeing no vacant ones, were about to go into a back car, when Patrick rose hastily, and offered them his seat, with evident pleasure. "But you will have no seat yourself?" responded one of the young ladies with a smile, hesitating, with true politeness, as to accepting it. "Never ye mind that!" said the Hibernian, "ye'r welcome to 't! I'd ride upon the cow-catcher till New York, any time, for a smile from such jintlemanly ladies;" and retreated hastily to the next car, amid the cheers of those who had witnessed the affair.


Once, during a tour in the Western States, writes Mr. Florence, the actor, an incident occurred in which I rather think I played the victim. We were en route from Cleveland to Cincinnati, an eight or ten-hour journey. After seeing my wife comfortably seated, I walked forward to the smoking car, and, taking the only unoccupied place, pulled out my cigar case, and offered a cigar to my next neighbour. He was about sixty years of age, gentlemanly in appearance, and of a somewhat reserved and bashful mien. He gracefully accepted the cigar, and in a few minutes we were engaged in conversation.

"Are you going far west?" I inquired.

"Merely so far as Columbus." (Columbus, I may explain is the capital of Ohio.) "And you, sir?" he added, interrogatively.

"I am journeying toward Cincinnati. I am a theatrical man, and play there to-morrow night." I was a young man then, and fond of avowing my profession.

"Oh, indeed! Your face seemed familiar to me as you entered the car. I am confident we have met before."

"I have acted in almost every State in the Union," said I. "Mrs. Florence and I are pretty generally known throughout the north-west."

"Bless me?" said the stranger in surprise, "I have seen you act many times, sir, and the recollection of Mrs. Florence's 'Yankee Girl,' with her quaint songs, is still fresh in my memory."

"Do you propose remaining long in Columbus?"

"Yes, for seven years," replied my companion.

Thus we chatted for an hour or two. At length my attention was attracted to a little, red-faced man, with small sharp eyes, who sat immediately opposite us and amused himself by sucking the knob of a large walking stick which he carried caressingly in his hand. He had more than once glanced at me in a knowing manner, and now and then gave a sly wink and shake of the head at me, as much as to say, "Ah, old fellow, I know you, too."

These attentions were so marked that I finally asked my companion if he had noticed them.

"That poor man acts like a lunatic," said I, sotto voce.

"A poor half-witted fellow, possibly," replied my fellow-traveller. "In your travels through the country, however, Mr. Florence, you must have often met such strange characters."

We had now reached Crestline, the dinner station, and, after thanking the stranger for the agreeable way in which he had enabled me to pass the journey up to this point, I asked him if he would join Mrs. Florence and myself at dinner. This produced an extraordinary series of grimaces and winks from the red-faced party aforesaid. The invitation to dinner was politely declined.

The repast over, our train sped on toward Cincinnati. I told my wife that in the smoking car I had met a most entertaining gentleman, who was well posted in theatricals, and was on his way to Columbus. She suggested that I should bring him into our car, and present him to her. I returned to the smoking car and proposed that the gentleman should accompany me to see Mrs. Florence. The proposal made the red-faced man undergo a species of spasmodic convulsions which set the occupants of the car into roars of laughter.

"No, I thank you," said my friend, "I feel obliged to you for the courtesy, but I prefer the smoking car. Have you another cigar?"

"Yes," said I, producing another Partaga.

I again sat by his side, and once more our conversation began, and we were quite fraternal. We talked about theatres and theatricals, and then adverted to political economy, the state of the country, finance and commerce in turn, our intimacy evidently affording intense amusement to the foxy-faced party near us.

Finally the shrill sound of the whistle and the entrance of the conductor indicated that we had arrived at Columbus, and the train soon arrived at the station.

"Come," said the red-faced individual, now rising from his seat and tapping my companion on the shoulder, "This is your station, old man."

My friend rose with some difficulty, dragging his hitherto concealed feet from under the seat, when, for the first time, I discovered that he was shackled, and was a prisoner in charge of the Sheriff, going for seven years to the state prison at Columbus.


Auxerre, November 15th, 1851.—Last week, at the moment when a railway tender was passing along the line from Saint Florentin to Tonnerre, a wolf boldly leaped upon it and attacked the stoker. The man immediately seized his shovel and repulsed the aggressor, who fell upon the rail and was instantly crushed to pieces.



In 1867, "A cattle train on the Luxemburg Railway was stopped," says the Nord, "two nights back, between Libramont and Poix by the snow. The brakesman was sent forward for aid to clear the line, and while the guard, fireman, engine-driver, and a customs officer were engaged in getting the snow from under the engine they were alarmed by wolves, of which there were five, and which were attracted, no doubt, by the scent of the oxen and sheep cooped up in railed-in carriages. The men had no weapons save the fire utensils belonging to the engine. The wolves remained in a semicircle a few yards distant, looking keenly on. The engine-driver let off the steam and blew the whistle, and lanterns were waved to and fro, but the savage brutes did not move. The men then made their way, followed by the wolves, to the guard's carriage. Three got in safe; whilst the fourth was on the step one of the animals sprang on him, but succeeded only in tearing his coat. They all then made an attack, but were beaten off, one being killed by a blow on the head. Two hours elapsed before assistance arrived, and during that time the wolves made several attacks upon the sheep trucks, but failed to get in. None of the cattle were injured."


"I was once," he remarks, "on a slow California train, and I went to the conductor and suggested that the cowketcher was on the wrong end of the train; for I said, 'You will never overtake a cow, you know; but if you'd put it on the other end it might be useful, for now there's nothin' on earth to hinder a cow from walkin' right in and bitin' the folks!"


A coachman once remarked, "Why you see, sir, if a coach goes over and spills you in the road there you are; but if you are blown up by an engine, where are you?"


"In England," says Mr. Wilberforce, "the guard is content to be the servant of the train; in Germany he is in command of the passengers. 'When is the train going on?' asked an Englishman once of a foreign guard. 'Whenever I choose,' was the answer. To judge from the delays the trains make at some of the stations, one would suppose that the guard had uncontrolled power of causing stoppages. You see him chatting with the station-master for several minutes after all the carriages have been shut up, and at last, when the topics of conversation are exhausted, he gives a condescending whistle to the engine-driver. Time seems never to be considered by either guards or passengers. Bavarians always go to the station half-an-hour before the train is due, and their indifference to delay is so well known that the directors can put on their time book 'As the time of departure from small stations cannot be guaranteed, the travellers must be there twenty-five minutes beforehand.'" Mr. Wilberforce should not have omitted to mention the main cause of these delays, which appears at the same time to constitute the final cause of a Bavarian's existence—Beer. Guards and passengers alike require alcoholic refreshment at least at every other station. At Culmbach, the fountain of the choicest variety of Bavarian beer, the practice had risen to such a head that, as we found last summer, government had been forced to interfere. To prevent trains from dallying if there was beer to drink at Culmbach was obviously impossible. The temptation itself was removed; and no beer was any longer allowed to be sold at that fated railway station, by reason of its being so superlatively excellent.

Saturday Review, 1864.


On one of the railroads in Prussia, a few years ago, a switch-tender was just taking his place, in order to turn a coming train approaching in a contrary direction. Just at this moment, on turning his head, he discerned his little son playing on the track of the advancing engine. What could he do? Thought was quick at such a moment of peril! He might spring to his child and rescue him, but he could not do this and turn the switch in time, and for want of that hundreds of lives might be lost. Although in sore trouble, he could not neglect his greater duty, but exclaiming with a loud voice to his son, "Lie down," he laid hold of the switch, and saw the train safely turned on to its proper track. His boy, accustomed to obedience, did as his father commanded him, and the fearful heavy train thundered over him. Little did the passengers dream, as they found themselves quietly resting on that turnout, what terrible anguish their approach had that day caused to one noble heart. The father rushed to where his boy lay, fearful lest he should find only a mangled corpse, but to his great joy and thankful gratitude he found him alive and unharmed. Prompt obedience had saved him. Had he paused to argue, to reason whether it were best—death, and fearful mutilation of body, would have resulted. The circumstances connected with this event were made known to the King of Prussia, who the next day sent for the man and presented him with a medal of honour for his heroism.


Some years ago at a railway station a gentleman actually followed a person with a portmanteau, which he thought to be his, but the fellow, unabashed, maintaining it to be his own property, the gentleman returned to inquire after his, and found, when too late, that his first suspicions were correct.


A railway carriage had been left for some weeks out of use in the station at Giessen, Hesse Darmstadt, in the month of May, 1852, and when the superintendent came to examine the carriage he found that a black redstart had built her nest upon the collision spring; he very humanely retained the carriage in its shed until its use was imperatively demanded, and at last attached it to the train which ran to Frankfort-on-the-Maine, a distance of nearly forty miles. It remained at Frankfort for thirty-six hours, and was then brought back to Giessen, and after one or two short journeys came back again to rest at Giessen, after a period of four days. The young birds were by this time partly fledged, and finding that the parent bird had not deserted her offspring, the superintendent carefully removed the nest to a place of safety, whither the parent soon followed. The young were, in process of time, full fledged and left the nest to shift for themselves. It is evident that one at least of the parent birds must have accompanied the nest in all its journeys, for, putting aside the difficulty which must have been experienced by the parents in watching for every carriage that arrived at Giessen, the nestlings would have perished from hunger during their stay at Frankfort, for everyone who has reared young birds is perfectly aware that they need food every two hours. Moreover, the guard of the train repeatedly saw a red-tailed bird flying about that part of the carriage on which the nest was placed.


Captain Galton who some years ago was the government railway inspector, in one of his reports relates the following singular circumstance. "A girl who was in love with the engine-driver of a train, had engaged to run away from her father's house in order to be married. She arranged to leave by a train this man was driving. Her father and brother got intelligence of her intended escape; and having missed catching her as she got into the train, they contrived, whether with or without the assistance of a porter is not very clear, to turn the train through facing points, as it left the station, into a bog." The captain does not pursue the subject further in his report, so that we are left in ignorance as to the success of the plan for stopping a contemplated runaway marriage.


We subjoin from the Annual Register for 1864 an account of an alarming occurrence which took place July 4th of that year:—"In one of the third-class compartments of the express train leaving King's Cross Station at 9.15 p.m., a tall and strongly-built man, dressed as a sailor, and having a wild and haggard look, took his seat about three minutes before the train started. He was accompanied to the carriage by a woman, whom he afterwards referred to as his wife, and by a man, apparently a cab-driver, of both of whom he took leave when the train was about to start. It had scarcely done so, when, on putting his hand to his pocket, he called out that he had been robbed of his purse, containing 17 pounds, and at once began to shout and gesticulate in a manner which greatly alarmed his fellow-travellers, four in number, in the same compartment. He continued to roar and swear with increasing violence for some time, and then made an attempt to throw himself out of the window. He threw his arms and part of his body out of the window, and had just succeeded in placing one of his legs out, when the other occupants of the carriage, who had been endeavouring to keep him back, succeeded in dragging him from the window. Being foiled in this attempt, he turned round upon those who had been instrumental in keeping him back. After a long and severe struggle, which—notwithstanding the speed the train was running at—was heard in the adjoining compartments, the sailor was overcome by the united exertions of the party, and was held down in a prostrate position by two of their number. Though thus secured, he still continued to struggle and shout vehemently, and it was not till some time afterwards, when they managed to bind his hands and strap him to the seat, that the passengers in the compartment felt themselves secure. This train, it may be explained, makes the journey from London to Peterborough, a distance little short of eighty miles, without a single stoppage; and as the scene we have been describing began immediately after the train left London, the expectation of having to pass the time usually occupied between the two stations (one hour and fifty minutes) with such a companion must have been far from agreeable. While the struggle was going on, and even for some time afterwards, almost frantic attempts were made to get the train stopped. The attention of those in the adjoining compartment was readily gained by waving handkerchiefs out of the window, and by-and-by a full explanation of the circumstances was communicated through the aperture in which the lamp that lights both compartments is placed. A request to communicate with the guard was made from one carriage to another for a short distance, but it was found impossible to continue it, and so the occupants of the compartments beyond the one nearest the scene of the disturbance could learn nothing as to its nature, a vague feeling of alarm seized them, and all the way along to Peterborough a succession of shouts of 'Stop the train,' mixed with the frantic screams of female passengers, was kept up. On the arrival of the train at Peterborough the man was released by his captors and placed on the platform. No sooner was he there, however, than he rushed with a renewed outburst of fury on those who had taken the chief part in restraining his violence, and as he kept vociferating that they had robbed him of his money, it was some time before the railway officials could be got to interfere—indeed, it seemed likely for some time that he would be allowed to go on in the train. As remonstrances were made from all quarters to the station-master to take the fellow into custody, he at length agreed, after being furnished with the names and addresses of the other occupants of the carriage, to hand him over to the police. The general impression on those who witnessed the sailor's fury seemed to be that he was labouring under a violent attack of delirium tremens, and he had every appearance of having been drinking hard for some days. Had there been only one or even two occupants of the compartment besides himself, there seems every reason to believe that a much more deadly struggle would have ensued, as he displayed immense strength."


The engine of an ordinary railway train broke down midway between two stations. As an express train was momentarily expected to arrive at the spot, the passengers were urgently called upon to get out of the carriages. A countryman in leather breeches and top-boots, who sat in a corner of one of the carriages, comfortably swathed in a travelling blanket, obstinately refused to budge. In vain the porter begged him to come out, saying the express would reach the spot in a minute, and the train would in all probability be dashed to pieces. The traveller pulled an insurance ticket out of his breeches pocket, exclaiming, "Don't you see I've insured my life?" and with that he set up a horse laugh, and sunk back into his corner. They had to force him out of the train, and an instant afterwards the express ran into it.


A novel illustration of the ingenuity of thieves has been afforded by an incident reported from the continent. For some time past a North German railway company had been suffering from the repeated loss of goods which were sent by luggage train, and which, notwithstanding all research and precautions, continued to disappear in a very mysterious manner. The secret which the inquiries set on foot had failed to discover was at length revealed by a rather amusing accident. A long box, on one side of which were words equivalent to "This side up," had, in disregard of this caution, been set up on end in the goods shed. Some time afterwards the employes were not a little startled to hear a voice, apparently proceeding from the box in question, begging the hearers to let the speaker out. On opening the lid, the railway officials were surprised and amused to find a man inside standing on his head. In the explanation which followed, the fellow wanted to account for his appearance under such unusual circumstances as due to the result of a wager, but he was given into custody, and it was soon found that the thieves had adopted this method of conveying themselves on to the railway premises, and that during the absence of the employes they had let themselves out of the box which they at once filled with any articles they could lay their hands on, refastened the lid, and then decamped. But for the unfortunate inability of human nature to endure an inverted position for an indefinite period, the ingenious authors of the scheme might have flourished a long time without detection.


Colonies and India quotes from a New Zealand paper the following story:—In the neighbourhood of Turakina an army of caterpillars, hundreds of thousands strong, was marching across the railway line, bound for a new field of oats, when the train came along. Thousands of the creeping vermin were crushed by the wheels of the engine, and suddenly the train came to a dead stop. On examination it was found that the wheels of the engine had become so greasy that they kept on revolving without advancing—they could not grip the rails. The guard and the engine driver procured sand and strewed it on the rails, and the train made a fresh start, but it was found that during the stoppage caterpillars in thousands had crawled all over the engine, and all over the carriages inside and out.


Of course, travelling in Russia is no longer what it was. During the last quarter of a century a vast network of railways has been constructed and one can now travel in a comfortable first-class carriage from Berlin to St. Petersburg or Moscow, and thence to Odessa, Sebastopol, the Lower Volga, or even the foot of the Caucasus; and, on the whole, it must be admitted that the railways are tolerably comfortable. The carriages are decidedly better than in England, and in winter they are kept warm by small iron stoves, such as we sometimes see in steamers, assisted by double windows and double doors—a very necessary precaution in a land where the thermometer often descends to 30 degrees below zero. The trains never attain, it is true, a high rate of speed—so at least English and Americans think—but then we must remember that Russians are rarely in a hurry, and like to have frequent opportunities of eating and drinking. In Russia time is not money; if it were, nearly all the subjects of the Tsar would always have a large stock of ready money on hand, and would often have great difficulty in spending it. In reality, be it parenthetically remarked, a Russian with a superabundance of ready money is a phenomenon rarely met with in real life.

In conveying passengers at the rate of from fifteen to thirty miles an hour, the railway companies do at least all that they promise, but in one very important respect they do not always strictly fulfil their engagements. The traveller takes a ticket for a certain town, and on arriving at what he imagines to be his destination, he may merely find a railway station surrounded by fields. On making inquiries he finds to his disappointment, that the station is by no means identical with the town bearing the same name, and that the railway has fallen several miles short of fulfilling the bargain, as he understood the terms of the contract. Indeed, it might almost be said as a general rule railways in Russia, like camel drivers in certain Eastern countries, studiously avoid the towns. This seems at first a strange fact. It is possible to conceive that the Bedouin is so enamoured of tent life and nomadic habits, that he shuns a town as he would a man-trap; but surely civil engineers and railway contractors have no such dread of brick and mortar. The true reason, I suspect, is that land within or immediately without the municipal barrier is relatively dear, and that the railways, being completely beyond the invigorating influence of healthy competition, can afford to look upon the comfort and convenience of passengers as a secondary consideration.

It is but fair to state that in one celebrated instance neither engineers nor railway contractors were to blame. From St. Petersburg to Moscow the locomotive runs for a distance of 400 miles, almost as "the crow" is supposed to fly, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left. For fifteen weary hours the passenger in the express train looks out on forest and morass and rarely catches sight of human habitation. Only once he perceives in the distance what may be called a town; it is Tver which has been thus favoured, not because it is a place of importance, but simply because it happened to be near the straight line. And why was the railway constructed in this extraordinary fashion? For the best of all reasons—because the Tsar so ordered it. When the preliminary survey was being made, Nicholas learned that the officers intrusted with the task—and the Minister of Ways and Roads in the number—were being influenced more by personal than by technical considerations, and he determined to cut the Gordian knot in true Imperial style. When the Minister laid before him the map with the intention of explaining the proposed route, he took a ruler, drew a straight line from the one terminus to the other, and remarked in a tone that precluded all discussion, "You will construct the line so!" And the line was so constructed—remaining to all future ages, like St. Petersburg and the Pyramids, a magnificent monument of autocratic power.

Formerly this well-known incident was often cited in whispered philippics to illustrate the evils of the autocratic form of government. Imperial whims, it was said, override grave economic considerations. In recent years, however, a change seems to have taken place in public opinion, and some people now venture to assert that this so-called Imperial whim was an act of far-seeing policy. As by far the greater part of the goods and passengers are carried the whole length of the line, it is well that the line should be as short as possible, and that branch lines should be constructed to the towns lying to the right and left. Apart from political considerations, it must be admitted that a great deal may be said in support of this view.

In the development of the railway system there has been another disturbing cause, which is not likely to occur to the English mind. In England, individuals and companies habitually act according to their private interests, and the State interferes as little as possible; private initiative acts as it pleases, unless the authorities can prove that important bad consequences will necessarily result. In Russia, the onus probandi lies on the other side; private initiative is allowed to do nothing until it gives guarantees against all possible bad consequences. When any great enterprise is projected, the first question is—"How will this new scheme affect the interests of the State?" Thus, when the course of a new railway has to be determined, the military authorities are always consulted, and their opinion has a great influence on the ultimate decision. The consequence of this is that the railway map of Russia presents to the eye of the tactician much that is quite unintelligible to the ordinary observer—a fact that will become apparent to the uninitiated as soon as a war breaks out in Eastern Europe. Russia is no longer what she was in the days of the Crimean war, when troops and stores had to be conveyed hundreds of miles by the most primitive means of transport. At that time she had only about 750 miles of railway; now she has more than 11,000 miles, and every year new lines are constructed.

Russia, by D. M. Wallace, M.A.


As giving an idea of the old way of signalling and precautions employed to ensure safety on the Hudson River Railroad nearly forty years ago, we append the following from the Albany Journal. It should be premised that this road extends from New York to East Albany, a distance of only 144 miles:—

"AN ARMY WITH BANNERS.—As you are whirled along over the Hudson River Railroad at the rate of 40 miles an hour, you catch a glimpse, every minute or two, of a man waving something like a white pocket handkerchief on the end of a stick, with a satisfactory sort of expression of countenance. If you take the trouble to count, you will find that it happens some two hundred times between East Albany and Thirty-first street. It looks like rather a useless ceremony, at first glance, but is a pretty important one, nevertheless.

"There are 225 of these 'flagmen' stationed at intervals along the whole length of the line. Just before a train is to pass, each one walks over his "beat," and looks to see that every track and tie, every tunnel, switch, rail, clamp, and rivet, is in good order and free from obstruction. If so, he takes his stand with a white flag and waves it to the approaching train as a signal to 'come on'—and come on it does, at full speed. If there is anything wrong, he waves a red flag, or at night a red lamp, and the engineer, on seeing it, promptly shuts off the steam, and sounds the whistle to 'put down the brakes.' Every inch of the road is carefully examined after the passage of each train. Austrian espionage is hardly more strict."


The financial difficulties under which some railway companies have recently laboured were brought to a crisis lately in the case of the Potteries, Shrewsbury, and North Wales Railway, a line running from Llanymynech to Shrewsbury, with a projected continuation to the Potteries. A debenture holder having obtained a judgment against the company, a writ was forthwith issued, and a few days back the sheriff's officers unexpectedly presented themselves at the company's principal station in Shrewsbury, and formally entered upon possession. The down train immediately after entered the station, and the bailiffs, without having given any previous intimation to the manager, whose office adjoins the station, seized the engines and carriages, and refused to permit the outgoing train to start, although many passengers had taken tickets. Ultimately the manager obtained the requisite permission, and it was arranged that the train should make the journey, one of the bailiffs meanwhile remaining in charge. The acting-sheriff refused a similar concession with regard to the further running of the trains, and it being fair day at Shrewsbury, and a large number of persons from various stations along the line having taken return tickets, much inconvenience to the public was likely to ensue. The North Wales section of this line was completed in August last at a cost of a little over 1,100,000 pounds, and was opened for passenger and goods traffic on the 13th of that month. As has already been stated, the ordinary traffic of the line was, after the enforcement of the writ, permitted to be continued, with the proviso that a bailiff should accompany each train. This condition was naturally very galling to the officials of the railway company, but they nevertheless treated the representative of the civil law with a marked politeness. On the night of his first becoming a constant passenger by the line he rode in a first-class carriage to Llanymynech, and on the return journey the attentive guard conducted him to a similar compartment which was devoted to his sole occupation. On arriving at Kennerly the bailiff became conscious of the progress of an elaborate process of shunting, followed by an entire stoppage of the train. After sitting patiently for some minutes it occurred to him to put his head out of the window and inquire the reason for the delay, and in carrying out the idea he discovered that the train of which his carriage had lately formed a part was vanishing from sight round a distant curve in the line. He lost no time in getting out and making his way into the station, which he found locked up, according to custom, after the passage through of the last down train. Kennerly is a small roadside station about 12 miles from Shrewsbury, and offers no accommodation for chance guests; and, had it been otherwise, it was of course the first duty of the bailiff to look after the train, of which he at that moment was supposed to be in "possession." There being no alternative, he started on foot for Shrewsbury, where he arrived shortly after midnight, having accomplished a perilous passage along the line. It appeared, on inquiry, that in the course of the shunting the coupling-chain which connected the tail coach with the body of the train had by some means become unlinked; hence the accident. The bailiff accepted the explanation, but on subsequent journeys he carefully avoided the tail-coach.

Railway News, 1866.


The latest marsupial freak is thus given by a thoroughly reliable correspondent of the Courier (an Australian paper):—A rather exciting race took place between the train and a large kangaroo on Wednesday night last. When about nine miles from Dalby a special surprised the kangaroo, who was inside the fences. The animal ran for some distance in front, but getting exhausted he suddenly turned to face his opponent, and jumped savagely at the stoker on the engine, who, not being able to run, gamely faced the "old man" with a handful of coal. The kangaroo, however, only reached the side of the tender, when, the step striking him, he was "knocked clean out of it" in the one round. No harm happened beyond a bit of a scare to the stoker, as the kangaroo picked himself up quickly and cleared the fence.


Some time ago, an old lady and gentleman were coming from Devenport when the train was crowded. A young man got up and gave the old lady a seat, while his companion, another young gent, remained stedfast and let the old gent stand. This did not suit the old gentleman, so he concluded to get a seat in some way, and quickly turning to the young man on the seat beside his wife, he said:—"Will you be so kind as to watch that woman while I get a seat in another carriage? She takes fits!" This startled the young gent. He could not bear the idea of taking charge of a fitty woman, so the old gentleman got a seat, and his wife was never known to take a fit afterwards.


The officials of a Michigan railroad that was being extended were waited upon the other day by a person from the pine woods and sand hills who announced himself as Mr. Snags, and who wanted to know if it could be possible that the proposed line was not to come any nearer than three miles to the hamlet named in his honour.

"Is Snags' Corners a place of much importance?" asked the President.

"Is it? Well, I should say it was! We made over a ton of maple sugar there last spring!"

"Does business flourish there?"

"Flourish! Why, business is on the gallop there every minute in the whole twenty-four hours. We had three false alarms of fire there in one week. How's that for a town which is to be left three miles off your railroad?"

Being asked to give the names of the business houses, he scratched his head for awhile, and then replied—

"Well, there's me, to start on. I run a big store, own eight yokes of oxen, and shall soon have a dam and a sawmill. Then there's a blacksmith shop, a post-office, a doctor, and last week over a dozen patent-right men passed through there. In one brief year we've increased from a squatter and two dogs to our present standing, and we'll have a lawyer there before long."

"I'm afraid we won't be able to come any nearer the Corners than the present survey," finally remarked the President.

"You won't! It can't be possible that you mean to skip a growing place like Snags' Corners!"

"I think we'll have to."

"Wouldn't come if I'd clear you out a place in the store for a ticket office?"

"I don't see how we could."

"May be I'd subscribe 25 dols.," continued the delegate.

"No, we cannot change."

"Can't do it nohow?"


"Very well," said Mr. Snags as he put on his hat. "If this 'ere railroad thinks it can stunt or cripple Snags' Corners by leaving it out in the cold it has made a big mistake. Before I leave town to-day I'm going to buy a windmill and a melodeon, and your old locomotives may toot and be hanged, sir—toot and be hanged!"


The Railway Journal, an American newspaper, containing the latest intelligence with respect to home and foreign politics, the money market, Congress debates, and theatrical events, is now printed and published daily in the trains running between New York and San Francisco. All the news with which its columns are filled is telegraphed from different parts of the States to certain stations on the line, there collected by the editorial staff travelling in the train, and set up, printed, and circulated among the subscribing passengers while the iron horse is persistently traversing plains and valleys, crossing rivers, and ascending mountain ranges. Every morning the traveller may have his newspaper served up with his coffee, and thus keep himself informed of all that is going on in the wide world during a seven days' journey covering over three thousand miles of ground. He who pays his subscription at New York, which he can do at the railway ticket-office, receives the last copy of his paper on the summit of the Sierra Nevada. The production of a news-sheet from a flying printing office at an elevation of some ten thousand feet above the level of the sea is most assuredly a performance worthy of conspicuous record in journalistic annals, and highly creditable to American enterprise.


Sir Arthur Helps, in his life of Mr. Brassey, remarks:—"There were few, if any, of the great undertakings in which Mr. Brassey embarked that gave him so much trouble in respect of the financial arrangements as the Spanish railway from Bilbao to Tudela. The secretary, Mr. Tapp, thus recounts the difficulties which they had to encounter:—

"'The great difficulty in Spain was in getting money to pay the men for doing the work—a very great difficulty. The bank was not in the habit of having large cheques drawn upon it to pay money; for nearly all the merchants kept their cash in safes in their offices, and it was a very debased kind of money, coins composed of half copper and half silver, and very much defaced. You had to take a good many of them on faith. I had to send down fifteen days before the pay day came round, to commence getting the money from the bank, obtaining perhaps 2,000 or 3,000 pounds a day. It was brought to the office, recounted, and put into my safe. In that way I accumulated a ton-and-a-half of money every month during our busy season. When pay week came, I used to send a carriage or a large coach, drawn by four or six mules, with a couple of civil guards, one on each side, together with one of the clerks from the office, a man to drive, and another—a sort of stableman—who went to help them out of their difficulty in case the mules gave any trouble up the hilly country. I was at the office at six o'clock, and I was always in a state of anxiety until I knew that the money had arrived safely at the end of the journey. More than once the conveyance broke down in the mountains. On one occasion the axle of our carriage broke in half from the weight of the money, and I had to send off two omnibuses to relieve them. I had the load divided, and sent one to one section of the line and one to the other.

"'Q.—Was any attempt made to rob the carriage?

"'A.—Never; we always sent a clerk armed with a revolver as the principal guard. We heard once of a conspiracy to rob us; but, to avoid that, we went by another road. We were told that some men had been seen loitering about the mountain the night before.'"


The natural financial difficulties of constructing a railway in Spain were added to by the strange kind of people Mr. Brassey's agents were obliged to employ. One of the sub-contractors was a certain Carlist chief whom the government dared not arrest on account of his great influence. Mr. Tapp thus relates the Carlist chief's mode of settling a financial dispute:—

"When he got into difficulties, Mr. Small, the district agent, offered him the amount which was due to him according to his measured work. He had over 100 men to pay, and Mr. Small offered him the money that was coming to him, according to the measurement, but he would not have it, nor would he let the agent pay the men. He said he would have the money he demanded; and he brought all his men into the town of Orduna, and the men regularly bivouacked round Mr. Small's office. They slept in the streets and stayed there all night, and would not let Mr. Small come out of the office till he had paid them the money. He attempted to get on his horse to go out—his horses were kept in the house (that is the practice in the houses of Spain); but when he rode out they pulled him off his horse and pushed him back, and said that he should not go until he had paid them the money. He passed the night in terror, with loaded pistols and guns, expecting that he and his family would be massacred every minute, but he contrived eventually to send his staff-holder to Bilbao on horseback. The man galloped all the way to Bilbao, a distance of twenty-five miles, and went to Mr. Bartlett in the middle of the night, and told him what had happened. Mr. Bartlett immediately sent a detachment up to the place to disperse the men. This Carlist threatened that if Mr. Small did not pay the money he would kill every person in the house. When he was asked, 'Would you kill a man for that?' he replied, 'Yes, like a fly,' and this coming from a man who, as I was told, had already killed fourteen men with his own hand, was rather alarming. Mr. Brassey and his partners suffer a great amount of loss by their contracts for the Bilbao railway."


During the construction of the Bilbao line, shortly before the proposed opening, it set in to rain in such an exceptional manner that some of the works were destroyed. The agent telegraphed to Mr. Brassey to come immediately, as a certain bridge had been washed down. About three hours afterwards another telegram was sent, stating that a large bank was washed away; and next morning, another, stating the rain continued, and more damage had been done. Mr. Brassey, turning to a friend, said, laughingly: "I think I had better wait until I hear that the rain has ceased, so that when I do go, I may see what is left of the works, and estimate all the disasters at once, and so save a second journey."

No doubt Mr. Brassey felt these great losses that occasionally came upon him much as other men do; but he had an excellent way of bearing them, and, like a great general, never, if possible, gave way to despondency in the presence of his officers.


An Englishwoman who travelled some years ago in America writes:—"I had found it necessary to study physiognomy since leaving England, and was horrified by the appearance of my next neighbour. His forehead was low, his deep-set and restless eyes significant of cunning, and I at once set him down as a swindler or a pickpocket. My conviction of the truth of my inference was so strong that I removed my purse—in which, however, acting by advice, I never carried more than five dollars—from my pocket, leaving in it only my handkerchief and the checks for my baggage, knowing that I could not possibly keep awake the whole morning. In spite of my endeavours to the contrary, I soon sunk into an oblivious state, from which I awoke to the consciousness that my companion was withdrawing his hand from my pocket. My first impulse was to make an exclamation; my second, which I carried into execution, to ascertain my loss, which I found to be the very alarming one of my baggage checks; my whole property being thereby placed at this vagabond's disposal, for I knew perfectly well that if I claimed my trunks without my checks the acute baggage-master would have set me down as a bold swindler. The keen-eyed conductor was not in the car, and, had he been there, the necessity for habitual suspicion incidental to his position would so far have removed his original sentiments of generosity as to make him turn a deaf ear to my request; and there was not one of my fellow-travellers whose physiognomy would have warranted me in appealing to him. So, recollecting that my checks were marked Chicago, and seeing that the thief's ticket bore the same name, I resolved to wait the chapter of accidents, or the reappearance of my friends. With a whoop like an Indian war-whoop the cars ran into a shed—they stopped—the pickpocket got up—I got up too—the baggage-master came to the door. 'This gentleman has the checks for my baggage,' said I, pointing to the thief. Bewildered, he took them from his waistcoat pocket, gave them to the baggage-master, and went hastily away. I had no inclination to cry 'stop thief!' and had barely time to congratulate myself on the fortunate impulse which had led me to say what I did, when my friends appeared from the next carriage. They were too highly amused with my recital to sympathize at all with my feelings of annoyance, and one of them, a gentleman filling a high situation in the east, laughed heartily, saying, in a thoroughly American tone, 'The English ladies must be cute customers if they can outwit Yankee pickpockets.'"


On a certain railroad in Louisiana the alligators have the bad habit of crawling upon the track to sun themselves, and to such an extent have they pushed this practice that the drivers of the locomotives are frequently compelled to sound the engine whistle in order to scare the interlopers away.

Railway News, 1867.


The railways generously permit a baby to be carried without charge; but not, it seems, without incurring responsibility. It has been lately decided, in "Austin v. the Great Western Railway Company," 16 L. T. Rep., N. S., 320, that where a child in arms, not paid for as a passenger, is injured by an accident caused by negligence, the company is liable in damages under Lord Campbell's Act. Three of the judges were clearly of opinion that the company had, by permitting the mother to take the child in her arms, contracted to carry safely both mother and child; and Blackburn, J., went still further, and was of opinion that, independently of any such contract, express or implied, the law cast upon the company a duty to use proper and reasonable care in carrying the child, though unpaid for. It may appear somewhat hard upon railway companies to incur liabilities through an act of liberality, but they have chosen to do so. The law is against them, that is clear; but they have the remedy in their own hands. There was some reason for exempting a child in arms, for it occupies no place in the carriage, and is but a trifling addition of weight. But now it is established that the company is responsible for the consequences of accident to that child, the company is clearly entitled to make such a charge as will secure them against the risk. The right course would be to have a tariff, say one-fifth or one-fourth of the full fare, for a child in arms; and if strict justice was done, this would be deducted from the fares of the passengers who have the ill-luck to face and flank the squaller.

Law Times, 1867.


The railroad tracklayer is now working along regularly at the rate of a mile a day. The machine is a car 60 feet long and 10 feet wide. It has a small engine on board for handling the ties and rails. The ties are carried on a common freight car behind, and conveyed by an endless chain over the top of the machinery, laid down in their places on the track, and, when enough are laid, a rail is put down on each side in proper position and spiked down. The tracklayer then advances, and keeps on its work until the load of ties and rails is exhausted, when other car loads are brought. The machine is driven ahead by a locomotive, and the work is done so rapidly that 60 men are required to wait on it, but they do more work than twice as many could do by the old system, and the work is done quite as well. The chief contractor of the road gives it as his opinion that when the machine is improved by making a few changes in the method of handling rails and ties it will be able to put down five or six miles per day. This will render it possible to lay down track twelve times as fast as the usual rate by hand, and it will do the work at less expense. The invention will be of immense importance to the country in connection with the Pacific railroad, which it was calculated could be built as fast as the track could be laid, and no faster; but hereafter the speed will be determined by the grading, which cannot advance more than five miles a day. Thirty millions of dollars have already been invested on the Pacific railroad, and if the time of completion is hastened one year by this tracklayer, as it will be if Central and Union Companies have money enough to grade each five miles a day, there will be a saving of three million dollars on interest alone on that one road.

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