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Cy Warman in 1906
As Waterloo lingered in the memory
of the conquered Corsican, so Ashtabula was burned into the
brain of Bradish. Out of that awful wreck he crawled, widowed
and childless. For a long time he did not realize, for his
head was hurt in that frightful crash.
By the time
he was fit to leave the hospital they had told him, little by
little, that all his people had perished.
He made his
way to the West, where he had a good home and houses to rent
and a hole in the hillside that was just then being changed
from a prospect to a mine.
townspeople, who had heard of the disaster, waited for him to
speak of it—but he never did. The neighbors nodded, and he
nodded to them and passed on about his business. The old
servant came and asked if she should open the house, and he
nodded. The man-servant—the woman's husband—came also, and to
him Bradish nodded; and at noon he had luncheon alone in the
fine new house that had just been completed a year before the
Wreck of the Pacific Express Ashtabula Bridge
Ashtabula, Ohio, 1876.
About once a
week Bradish would board the midnight express, ride down the
line for a few hundred miles, and double back.
When he went
away they knew he had gone, and when he came back they knew he
had returned and that was as much as his house-keeper, his
agent, or the foreman at the mines could tell you.
have thought that the haunting memory of Ashtabula would have
kept him at home for the rest of his life; but he seemed to
travel for the sake of the ride only, or for no reason, as a
deaf man walks on the railroad-track.
extended his trips, taking the Midland over into Utah; and
once or twice he had been seen on the rear end of the
California Limited as it dropped down the western water-shed
of Raton Range.
when the Limited was lapping up the landscape and the Desert
was rushing in under her pilot and streaking out below the
last sleeper like tape from a ticker, the danger signal
sounded in the engine cab, the air went on full, the
passengers braced themselves against the seats in front of
them, or held their breath in their berths as the train came
to a dead stop.
and the head man hurried forward shouting, "What's the
matter?" to the engineer.
leaning from his lofty window, asked angrily, "What in
thunder's the matter with you? I got a stop signal from
"You'd better lay off and have a
good sleep," said the conductor.
you to sleep for a minute if you ever hint that I was not
awake coming down Cañon Diablo," shouted the engineer,
releasing his brakes. As the long, heavy train glided by,
the trainmen swung up like sailors, and away went the
Limited over the long bridge, five minutes to the bad.
later the same thing happened on the East end. The
engineer was signaled and stopped on a curve with the
point of his pilot on a high bridge.
This time the captain and
the engineer were not so brittle of temper. They discussed
the matter, calling on the fireman, who had heard nothing,
being busy in the coal-tank.
brakeman, crossing himself, said it was the "unseen hand" that
had been stopping the Limited on the Desert. It might be a
warning, he said, and walked briskly out on the bridge looking
for dynamite, ghosts, and things.
When he had
reached the other end of the bridge, he gave the go-ahead
signal and the train pulled out. As they had lost seven
minutes, it was necessary for the conductor to report "cause
of delay;" and that was the first hint the officials of any of
the Western lines had of the "unseen hand."
trainmen, swapping yarns at division stations, heard of the
mysterious signal on other roads.
Limited, over on the Short Line, was choked with her head over
Snake River, at the very edge of Pendleton. When they had
pulled in and a fresh crew had taken the train on, the
in-coming captain and his daring driver argued over the
incident and they each got ten days,—not for the delay, but
because they could not see to sign the call-book next morning
and were not fit to be seen by other people.
train stopped was the International Limited on the Grand
Trunk, then the Sunset by the South Coast.
phenomenon became so general that officials lost patience. One
road issued an order to the effect that any engineer who heard
signals when there were no signals should get thirty days for
the first and his time for the second offence.
Within a week
from the appearance of the unusual and unusually offensive
bulletin, "Baldy" Hooten heard the stop signal as he neared a
little Junction town where his line crossed another on an
signal sounded, the fireman glanced over at the driver, who
dived through the window up to his hip pockets.
Continued Next Page
The Ashtabula Disaster - Historic
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