Fitch Bits: The Hartford, Vermont Railroad Disaster

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The Hartford, Vermont Railroad Disaster

DID YOU KNOW that Hartford, Vermont is home to one of the country's worst railroad disasters in history?

It happened in the winter of 1887 and claimed the lives of 37 passengers. A further 50 people were injured in the accident.

Just like a few days ago, Vermont was in the middle of an arctic blast that froze the White River solid,  below the Woodstock bridge in -18 degree cold.

The Montreal Express, out of Boston, was over an hour behind schedule. Ordered to make up for lost time, the engineer hit the bridge at a higher than usual speed. The rear passenger car hit a break in the track and that was all it took.

It went over the bridge and took two additional cars with it. The coupling broke and all three plummeted 43 feet down onto the ice below.

What you have to remember is that everything was lit with whale oil lamps back then. Every lamp in the cars exploded, engulfing them in flames. The fire was so hot and massive that the wooden bridge above caught fire with giant timbers falling into the hell on ice. Survivors were forced to listen to the screams of the dying, unable to save them from the heat.

If there were ever a spot that deserved to be haunted, this would be it. Men and women claim to smell the burning wood of the bridge to this day. One of the conductors, Mr. Sturtevant, is said to still patrol the rebuilt bridge, just trying to avert another disaster. There have also been multiple sightings of a child standing a few inches above the water. That's the height he would have been at, had he been standing on the ice from 136 years ago.

Dark, right?

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