Report of the Chief Inspector of Safety Appliances covering his investigation of a collision which occurred on the Cinci...


Material Information

Report of the Chief Inspector of Safety Appliances covering his investigation of a collision which occurred on the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railway, at Indianapolis, Ind., November 13, 1912
At head of title:
Interstate Commerce Commission
Physical Description:
7 p. : ; 23 cm.
United States -- Interstate Commerce Commission. -- Division of Safety Appliances
Belnap, H. W ( Hiram W )
Gov. Print. Off.
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Railroad accidents -- Indiana -- Indianapolis   ( lcsh )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


General Note:
Caption title.
General Note:
Dated December 31, 1912.
General Note:
Submitted by H. W. Belnap, Chief Inspector of Safety Appliances.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 004955626
oclc - 251265075
System ID:

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i. I


NOVEMBER 13, 1912.
DECEMBER 31, 1912.
To the ('omn 7;..son:
On November 13, 1912. there was a head-end collision betvwen a
passenger train and a freight train on the Cincinnati, Hamilton &
Dayton Railway, at Indianapolis, Ind., resulting in the death of 11
passengers and 4 employees and the injury of 6 pa-lvnigers and 5
An investigation of the nature and cause of this a:cident and of
the circumstances connected therewith developed the following facts:
The trains involved in this collision were westbound passenger
train No. 36, running from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Chicago, Ill., and
eastbound freight train No. 95, running from Indianapolis, Ind.,
to Hamilton, Ohio. Train No. 36 consisted of an engine, a mail car,
a combination baggage and smoking car, one coach, and two Pullman
sleeping cars, all the cars being of wooden construction. Conductor
Wiggins and Engineman Sharkey were in charge of this train.
Train No. 95 consisted of an engine, 26 loaded and 4 empty cars, and
a caboose, in charge of Conductor Hines and Engineman Yorke.
The Cincinnati. Hamilton & Dayton Railway between Indianapolis
and the Ohio State line is a single-track line. A Imanual block
system is in operation, so operated as to provide protection for
following movements only; permissive movements are allowed for
freight trains. In connection with this system, train orders dilr'ting
the movements of trains are transmitted by telephone.
The collision occurred on the east end of Irvington pa-sing track,
in a slight cut, just within the city limits of Indianapolis. The main
track is straight for a distance of about 2 iiiiles east and about 1 mile
west of the point where the accident or.nlrl.. and there is a slight
descending grade for eastboiiind trains beginning about 2 miles east
of the point of collision.
On the morning of the accident freight train No. 95 left State
Street yard, Indianapolis, at 1 o'clock, and just before reaching
Irvington. .3- miles from State Street. stalled on a grade of about
1 per cent. Conductor Hines cut his train in two, and with the


engine and 14 cars proceeded to Irvington and headed into the west
end of the siding. When these cars were clear of the main track
Head Brnkelnian Gross, acting under instructions from Conductor
Hines, cut off the engine and let it out on to the main track at the
east switch in order that it might return for the remainder of the
train. Brakeman Gross then continued east to flag train No. 36.
The engine picked up Conductor Hines at the west end of the side
t rack and returned to the part of the train which had been left on the
main track, pulled thee- cars up to the west end of the sidetrack, and
left them on the main track just west of the switch. The conductor
then cut off the engine, and it proceeded to the east end of the siding,
where he opened the switch, and after the engine had backed into
the siding he then closed and locked the switch. The engine then
coupled to the head portion of the train, and backed it out on to the
main track, where the entire train was coupled together.
It was the intention at that time to pull the train into the Ir\ing-
ton pais-ing track for train No. 36, but the crew received an order
giving their train until 2.50 a. m. to reach Julietta for that train.
Julietta is located about 6 miles east of Irvington. The train then
started toward Julietta, but before it had reached the east end of
Irvington passing track Engineman Yorke told Conductor Hines,
who was riding on the engine, that the train was so heavy that he did
not think it could reach Julietta in the time allowed by the order.
The conductor thereupon directed him to back the train into the
siding and then left the engine, catching the caboose as it came by.
When train No. 95 had pulled east of the switch for the purpose of
backing in on the passing track Brakeman Gross climbed up on the
engine and asked Enginemnan Yorke what they were doing. Engine-
man Yorke told him that they had received an order giving them until
2.50 a. m. to reach Julietta for No. 36, but as they would not have suf-
ficient time, they were going to back in on the siding. He also told
the brakeman to stay on the engine and ride in, but Gross replied that
he had been instructed by the conductor to protect against No. 36
and to remain out until he was called in and that he would remain
Rear Brakeman Cox opened the east switch, and the train was
1cked in on the passing track, both Conduictor Hines and Brakeman
Cox riding on the caboose. The train was into clear about 12 minutes
before train No. 36 was due at Julietta on the time given in the train
order referred to above.
As the train was backing in on the siding the enginemin directed
the fireman to cover the headlight. After the train stopped on the
sidetrack Enmgineman Yorke sounded the whistle sinail re.-alling
P,r..1;i:,iiii Gr',,-, at which time the fireman was covering the head-
light. En rili(niann Ynorke sated that he Ihenc lighted a torch,


climbed down from the engine, and started toward the switch for
the purpose of closing it. About 150 feet from the engine, however,
he met Brakeman Gross coming in and asked him if he hiaa closed
the switch. He stated that Grous. replied, "Yes; the switch is closed
all right." He and Gross then started to return to the ciiinr. The
rear brakeman came up at that time and asked Gross if the switch
was closed, and the enginenian says Gross replied, Yes; the siwitch
is closed." The rear brakeman then returned to the caboose and
the engineman and head brakeman returned to the singine, where
they ireminied until the collision occurred.
After -ending the rear brakeman forward to make sure that the
switch was closed Conductor Hines went to the tel]g-;raph office for
orders,. This office is located at the west end of the pI.s-ing track. 25
or 30 car lengths to the rear of the caboose of his train as it stood
on the siding.
Prs:enger train No. 36 left Cincinnati at 11.25 p. m., November 12,
on time, and was 52 minutes late at 3 a. m., Noveil-mber 13, when it
pasi-ed Reedville, Ind., the last open telegraph station west of the
point where the accident occurred. Reedville is 13 miles from Irving-
ton, and iraiin No. 36 traveled this distance in 17 minutes. The east
switch at Irvington passing track had not been closed, and as the
switch lamp was not burning there was nothing to indicate the posi-
tion of the switch to the approaching train. Train No. 36 entered the
siding at an estimated speed of 45 miles an hour, colliding with train
No. 95 at 3.17 a. m.
Both engines were badly damaiiged and four freight cars were
destroyed. Both engines and the three head cars of the pa--enger
train were derailed, but remained upright. The mail car and the
combination car were damaged and the coach was tele.,-cped by the
combination car. Most of the casualties occurred in the coach; nearly
everyone in it was either killed or injured.
At the investigation conducted by the railroad cjomlpany Brake-
man Gross stated that after the train had backed in on the passing
track he was called in. He saw a light near the switch and sup-
posed ,omlieone was closing it; the headlight was covered, and he
assumed that everything was all right. In coming in he walked
around the switch stand, but did not olb-erve carefully the position of
the stand or the switch points; he thought the switch was closed.
He was carrying a red and a white lantern, and the light was not
very good. He met Engineman Yorke a short distance in front of
the engine. Yorke asked him if the switch wxas clo-ed, and he
replied that it was. At the investigation conducted by the coroner
Brakenma Gross stated that as he approached the engine someone
asked him if the switch was all right, and he replied that it appeared
all right. to him.


At the investigation c(lnducted by the Railroad Comnmission of
Indiana the Cneiiii',ia;i stated that he saw the headlight of the pas-
.nerir" train when it w;is about a mile away. When he saw it head
into the siding he called to the other men in the cab and jumped
from the engine. He stated that the pas-enIger train was running at.
a high rate of -peed; the engine was using steam and fire was flying
from the stack.
At the coi p:miiy's investigation Flagman Cox stated that when the
train backed in on the passing track Conductor Hines asked him to
go forwxvrdl and see if the switch was closed. He went forward and
met Engineman Yorke and Brakeman Gross just in front of the
(4.gillv. He state that he said to Brakemian Gross, "Did you close
that switch?" and Gross replied, "Yes." He then returned to the
The switch stand at the east end of the Irvington siding is located
on the south side of the track and the switch laImp is 7 feet above the
roadbed. The lamp in use at the time of the accident was equipped
with a long-time burner, and would burn about eight days without
refilling. The section foreman who had charge of this lamp stated
that it was his custom to give it attention twice a week, on Wednes-
day and Saturday. He stated that he had inspected this lamp and
found it burning the afternoon preceding the accident. It was also
reported as burning at about 5.10 in the evening before the accident.
Between that time and the time when the accident occurred three
train crews had reported that this lamp was not burning. When the
lamp was examined after the accident the reservoir was half or two-
thirds full of oil. During the night the wind was blowing and a
drizzling rain was falling, but at the time of the accident the rain
had ceased and the weather was clear.
The engine crew on train No. 95 had been on duty 3 hours and 32
minutes, and the train crew had been on duty 3 hours and 17 minutes,
after a period off duty of more than 12 hours. The engineman of
train No. 36 had been on duty 4 hours and 32 minutes after a period
off duty of 8 hours and 30 minutes.
This accident was caused by the failure of Enginenmn Yorke, of
train No. 5.i, to close the cast posing track switch at Irvington, or
to make -mire that this switch was closed after his train backed in on
the siding, thus violating that part of rule 104-A of the Cincinnati,
Hamilton & Dayton Railway Co., which rends a- follows:
When a train backs in on a sidliii to meet or to be passed b.v another train,
the engineman, when his train is into clear, must see that the switch is properly
set for the main track.
Head Brakemann GroC-, of train No. 9., is equally responsible for
the a-'cide'nt on account of his failure to see that this switch was
properly cl',sd when he returned to the train after being called in


by the engineman, and for stating that the switch was
closed when asked about it by the engineman and the rear brokemnn.
Engineman Yorke exercised poor judgment in recalling the flag-
man before the switch had been closed. At the time the eliginc-lna
sounded the whistle recalling the flagman train No. 36 was not due
at Julietta, 6 miles away, for about 12 minutee, and Engiiiiman
Yorke had ample time to close the switch before recalling the flag-
man. He should not have permitted the headlight to be covered
until the switch was closed.
It is further believed that the entire crew of train No. 95 displayed
a lack of alertness in the exerci-e of their duties, for the reason that
the conductor and both brakencien operated this switch, and all the
members of the crew had occasion to note that the switch lamp was
not burning, but none of them lighted it. Had the switch lamp been
lighted the accident undoubtedly would have been averted, as any
member of the crew could have discovered at a glance that the switch
had not been closed, or the engineman of the passenger train might
have seen the switch light in time to bring his train to a stop before
reaching the open switch.
Rule No. 27 of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railway Co.
reads as follows:
A signal imperfectly displayed, or the absence of a signal at a place where a
signal is usually shown, must be regarded as a stop si._ii;l and the fact reported
to the superintendent.
A footnote in the book of rules states that-
The definition of a fixed signal" covers such signals as slow boards, stop
boards, yard limits, switch, train order, block, iii.rii,'lkini-, semaphore, disk,
ball, or other means for indicating stop, caution, or proceed.
Under this rule and definition it is clearly required that the al- -enice
of a switch light at night be reg:-i rded as a stop signal. The superin-
tendent of this division stated however, that rule No. 27 had not been
interpreted to cover switch lights, and that train crews were not
expected to stop for switch lamps which were found not burning, but
were required-simply to report such switch lamps.
In approaching this switch Engineman Sharkey, of train No. 36,
was following the customary practice when he did not stop his train
or approach the switch with his train under control.
The investigation disclosed the fact that on this railroad switch
lamps are frequently found not burning. The chief train dispatcher
stated that each night on this division four or five switch lamps are
reported not burning. This seems to indicate either that the lamps
do not receive proper attention or that they are inadequate. The
rules of the company do not require employees to light lamps found
not burning. The east switch at Irvington was operated by the con-


diictor and by both of the brakemen, but none of them considered it
his duty to light the lamp, as the rules require lamps found not
burning merely to be reported.
The records of thle company show that trains frequently were
compelled to double into Irvington, the first station reached after
leaving the terminal. On 16 occasions during the 60 days preceding
this accident trains had doubled into Irvington, and engine No. 426,
which was hauling this train, had doubled into this passing track 7
times out of this total of 16, and on only one trip did it have a full
tonnage rating; on the date of the accident it had 99 tons less than
the full tonnage rating. Evidence was also introduced showing that
the coal used was poor, and that. regardless of the fact that the re-
ports on engine No. 42;" showed it to be in good steamning condition,
the engine was unable to handle the train.
The conductor had had about 12 years' experience as a brakeman
and 2 years' experience as an extra conductor. The engineman had
just been promoted and had made but six trips over the road; he had
had 4 years' experience as a fireman. The head brahkman had been in
the employ of the company 19 dlays, and had had only 2 months'
previous experience as a switchman. The rear brakeman had about
2- years' experience as a brakeman. 1 year and 3 months of which was
on this road. The fireman was making his first trip over this road,
but had had 11 months' experience on another road. The engineman
had been ai-iting the fireman in the care of his fire, and after being
told by Brakeman Gross that the switch had been clo-ed, he returned
to the engine to work on the fire in an effort to get the engine to steam
The conductor did not go foirwarnd per-orially to ascertain whether
or not the switch was closed, as he desired to go to the office and in-
form the train dispatcher that on account of the heavy train they had
not attempted to reach Julietta and had backed in on the siding at
Irvington. He therefore delegated the rear brakeman to go to the
head end of the train to see if the switch was closed.
The acnidlent occurred within the city limits of Indianapolis, and
the speed limit there is 30 miles an hour. Had this speed limit been
observed the consequences of the cl-li-ion would have been less dis-
astrous. The investigation, however, disclosed the fact that trains
frequently exceeded the speed limit at this point.
The engine of the passenger train had been equipped with an elec-
tric headlight, but about two months before the accident, this head-
light was removed for repairs and had not been replaced. Had
this icnine been equipped with an electric headlight the (.ngineman
might have been able to ldicover the positi n of the switch in time
to avert the colli-ion.


The operating conditions di-cl'l,;ed by this inve-i.igation should be
materially improved in an effort to prevent the re'iiivn-err- of such
Measures should at once be taken to provide that switch lamps be
kept burning at night, and that employees be reiplire i to obey the
rules in the absence of a switch light. In addition to reporting switch
lamps found not bllrning, any employee who uses switches at night on
which the lamps are not burning should be required to light them.
It can not be considered ..afe practice to require or peniit a train to
be operated over a busy railroad by a crew all of whom on the head
end of the train are inexperienced or new men, and in all cases where
newly promoted enginemen are used an experienced fireman should
be furnished.
The tonnage rating of engines should be fixed so that an engine can
ha ul a train over the road without being required frequently to double
hills. When trains are required frequently to double hills, the atten-
tion of employees, anxious to make reasonable time and to avoid de-
laying other t rains, is diverted from their usual duties, and ordinary
precautions are overlooked. Under these circumstances there are un-
usual opportunities for disastrous errors to occur.
Attention is also called to the fact that had automatic block signals,
or any form of signals employing continuous track circuits, been in
use the open switch would have been indicated by such signals and,
had they been obeyed, the accident would have been averted.
Respect fully submitted.
Chief Infl('r:tor of Safety Appl,;iIIr .



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