100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Archive for the category “trains”

$125 Million Loan For Chinese Railroads Approved

The Xinhai Revolution in China began in October 1911. Local Chinese businessmen who had invested in promoting railways were determined not to let central government officials profit from this new venture which the Qing royal family through the Prince Regent, father of the boy Emperor, arranged to be financed by foreign loans. Qing military efforts at suppression backfired and in October 1911, a revolt at Wuchang took place after a bomb exploded accidentally that implicated Imperial Army officers in Wuchang, China. Rather than wait to be arrested, the officers started a rebellion that spiraled out of control and resulted in the downfall of the Manchus that had ruled China for 300 years. But the railroads still were to be built and money was scarce in a fractured newly formed Republic of China.

On January 1, 1913 the “six powers” – Britain, the US, Germany, France, Russia and Japan – agreed to loan China $125 million to build it’s railways. The loan was part of the attempt by the major powers to maintain their grip over post-revolution China and control the economy by demanding direct oversight in revenue collection in certain Chinese industries.

1911 Chinese railroad bond offered in foreign markets that led to the Wuchang Revolt

1911 Chinese railroad bond offered in foreign markets that led to the Wuchang Revolt

Hong Kong Governor Tries To Abolish Foreign Coins

Francis Henry May was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1860, the son of the Lord Chief-Justice of Ireland. In 1881 May entered the diplomatic service in Hong Kong. He was made Assistant Colonial Secretary in 1891 and Acting Colonial Treasurer in 1892. From 1893 to 1902 May was the Captain Superintendent of the Hong Kong Police Force and Superintendent Victoria Gaol and Fire Brigade. He held the position of Colonial Secretary for Hong Kong in 1902–1910 and was appointed Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner Western Pacific in 1910. In 1912 May was appointed Governor of Hong Kong. In July 1912 while at a ceremony near the Post Office Governor May was shot at be a would-be Chinese assassin. The bullet missed May and hit the chair he was sitting in. Soldiers immediately surrounded the governor and the shooter was seized. Since then he has traveled by car.

On November 18, 1912 Governor May directed the British colony’s two streetcar companies and the Star Ferry company to stop accepting Chinese coins for payment of its fares and to accept only Hong Kong coins in a effort to rid the colony of foreign coinage and currency. Since there are relatively few Hong Kong coins in circulation many passengers are unable to pay their fares. A public boycott of mass transportation is being organized in protest.

Hong Kong governor Francis Henry May

Fatal Train Wreck In Mississippi

New Orleans is the big city where people like to go on a Sunday. After a day of pleasure seeking, people would return to neighboring city by train. The Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad would take travelers west and stop in the cities along the way. It is a single track line with no automatic block signals. Automatic Block Signaling is a system that consists of a series of signals that divide a railway line into a series of blocks. It controls the movement of trains between the blocks through automatic signals. This allows trains running in the same direction to follow each other in a safe manner without risk of rear end collision. When trains are using a single rail line they pass each other by one train pulling off to a siding to let the other train pass.

On November 11, 1912 2 engines pulled a baggage car and 9 passenger cars. Running miles behind them was a freight train hauling 8 loaded and 2 empty freight cars. The passenger train left New Orleans at 11:00pm but by the time it arrived at Kenner Junction, Louisiana it was 13 minutes late. Near Montz Station, Louisiana the train stopped because of engine trouble. 2 passenger cars were telescoped and demolished. 3 others were overturned and caught on fire. 13 people were killed and over 90 injured.

Train wreck on the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad

2nd Railroad Policeman Killed In Illinois

John W Kamphouse was a police officer with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Police Department. 6 months ago Kamphouse’s brother-in law officer Edward Spielman was shot and killed in the Proviso yards in Chicago, Illinois.

On November 1, 1912 Kamphouse was preparing to make his final rounds before going home when he saw some suspicious looking men in the rail yard. He left a note for a fellow officer and went to investigate. He failed to report for work the following day.

After Officer Kamphouse’s wife reported that he had never come home from work the previous evening, a search was begun. An hour later, a railroad employee found Officer Kamphouse dead of a single gunshot wound to the head on the north side of the yard. Kamphouse was shot and killed less than 200 feet away from the spot his brother-in-law was killed six months earlier.

Train Wreck In New York

On October 3, 1912 a West Shore passenger train collided with a freight train near Wende Station, New York 20 miles outside of Buffalo. 3 died and 18 were taken to the hospital. Helen Gould, daughter of financier Jay Gould was on the train but not seriously injured.

“3418 – Wrecked Near Wende N.Y.   Oct. 3 – 1912”

Train Crash In Great Britain

On the September 17, 1912 a serious crash occurred at Ditton station when the 5:30 Chester to Liverpool Train with 2 horse boxes and 7 coaches descended a steep grade hit a railroad bridge at the Ditton station going 60mph. The accident occurred because of confusion over signals and the driver thought that the train was to take the fast lines through the station but in fact the points were set for the slow lines. The train turned on its side and burst into flames killing a total of 15 people in the process. The train’s crew were killed along with all of the passengers in the first 2 coaches. The station soon caught fire and even though station employees and volunteers kept the fire at bay long enough to proceed with rescue operations, the station was eventually abandoned and consumed. A horse was thrown right over the bridge but somehow managed to survive.

The engine of the Chester to Liverpool Train after it struck to bridge at Ditton Station in going 60mph
September 17, 1912


The Trans Australian Railway Begins

Perth was the first major city in western Australia situated on west coast while the other major British settlements are on the other side of the continent separated by thousands of kilometres of desert terrain and the only practicable method of transport was by the Great Australian Bight, a stretch of water with a bad reputation for rough seas. In 1901 Australian colonies were attempting to federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia. Western Australians draw to join the new federation was the promise of a federally funded railway line linking Western Australia with the rest of the continent.

In 1907 legislation was passed allowing for the route to be surveyed. The 1051 mile track at no point along the route have a permanent fresh watercourse on the line. In the days of steam locomotion about half the total load was water for the engine. The water of the Western Australian desert was unfit for humans and trains. Water supplies had to be carried on the train. The survey was completed in 1909 and route proposed. Legislation authorising the construction was passed in December 1911 and Commonwealth Railways was established in 1912 to build the line no matter what they cost. Britain’s Lord Kitchener who visited Sydney in 1911 warned: “Unless this line is built Australia will lie helpless before any aggressor. The country could be seized in 20 different places without one Australian defender appearing on the scene.” The town of Port Augusta is on the south coast half way between eastern big city colonies and far-flung deserts of Western Australia. It is chosen as the starting point of the Tran-Australian Railroad.

On September 14, 1912 First Sod Day is celebrated in Port Augusta on the southern coast of Australia. when a small wheelbarrow carrying a spade was wheeled to a point on the survey line where Governor-General Thomas Denman turning the first sod of earth for the project.He is flanked by prime minister Andrew Fisher the federal minister for home affairs and Port Augusta mayor Thomas Hewitson and several hundred locals.

First Sod Day ceremonies
Post Augusta, western Australia
September 14, 1912

Postmarked September 10, 1912

The Hoosac Tunnel was conceived as a way to connect Boston with New York through Hoosac Mountain. It was commenced in 1851 and immediately ran into construction problems. Tunnel digging equipment failed and progress with drilling and blasting was slow due to unstable rock. Companies assigned to the project kept failing and being replaced. Interest waxed and waned and work was almost halted during the Civil War. In October 1867 leaked naptha fumes contacted a candle and exploded sending the hoist house down the 583 foot deep shaft killing 13. In all 192 men died in the construction of the tunnel which was completed in 1875. It is 24 feet wide and 20 feet high total length 4 3/4 miles long and was the longest tunnel in the US at the time. 1,900,000 tons of rock were excavated and 900 men employed during construction.

Hoosac Tunnel
West Portal Looking Out
North Adams, Massachusetts.

Interurban Railway Accident in Ohio

The advent of railroad changed the US in the 19th century. Rail transportation spread into the cities. Streetcars which were not steam-powered began to grow in inner cities in the late 1800’s starting out first as horse-drawn vehicles and progressing to cable and electricity. To connect the city with outer suburban and rural parts, the interurban rail system began in the mid 1890’s. It was defined by its electric power, passenger service as a primary emphasis, heavier equipment that went faster than urban streetcars and operating on street tracks in cities but on roadside tracks or private rights-of-way tracks in rural areas. By 1912 there is a very large network of small interurban lines in the US particularly in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana. Like train accidents, interurban railway accidents

Lake Shore Electric railway crash
Dover Bay, Ohio substation
September 8, 1912

occur as well.

On September 8, 1912 two interurban cars on the Lake Shore Electric railway which traveled between Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio collided and wrecked at the Dover Bay substation.

Head-On Collision Of Trains In Vermont

Cows get milked morning and night when they are “fresh” – lactating. Farmers quickly consolidated the milk into cans which are cooled in a spring house or an ice house. The cans are brought to a creamery for processing or pickup point for later processing–almost always very early in the morning. The creameries process the milk, sometimes taking payment in by product like cream and butter and the creameries are the points at which the milk enters the rail system for transport to the large dairies in urban areas. These run are called “milk trains” and the help bring fresh dairy products to the cities of the US.

In Bennington, Vermont the Bennington Station closes at 6:15 each evening making it impossible for trains operating after that hour to receive orders and changes in their schedules.

On September 7, 1912 the milk train which traveled daily from Alburg, Vermont to New York City was nearly 2 hours late in leaving Rutland. The engineer was instructed to travel at as high a speed as he felt was safe. When the train was approaching Hicks Crossing near Bennington, it was now one hour and thirty five minutes behind schedule and had made up 25 minutes. The engineer thought if he hurried in leaving North Bennington he could make it to Bennington before the passenger train pulled out of the Bennington Station. He was one minute too late.

At 7:50PM the south bound milk train collided with the north bound passenger train in a head on crash killing 3 and injuring 12. The larger milk train locomotive traveling at 45 to 50 MPH pushed the smaller passenger train engine back turning it almost completely in the opposite direction and tipping it over exploding the boiler. The larger locomotive also tipped over on the same side of the tracks. Both were completely destroyed.

Aftermath of the Bennington Milk Train crash
Bennington, Vermont
September 7, 1912


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