Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Railroad Train at Sea

Have you seen our "Flood Wall at the History Center........

July 27, 1858 Daily Alta, a California newspaper

A correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette writing from onboard the cars of the Ohio and Missouri Railroad, West of Vincennes, May 2,1858 gives a description of a somewhat novel kind of railroading. He says:

On crossing the bridge of the Ohio and Mississippi railroad at Vincennes, the traveler westward witnesses a novel site in railroading. Before him is a lake (the Wabash Valley overflowed) over 6 miles wide, and longer than the eye can reach. Across this sea the train runs on a trestle – work that sticks out just 4 inches above the top of the water. Nothing is seen on its broad surface save these two iron rails, around which the waters eddie and whirl – madly against the slender frame, which seems to tremble under their force.

 All over the lake are whirling eddies, carrying big trees and dirt round and round. These soon make your head swim, and you feel that the trestlework is certainly moving; the bottom seems to be undermined and is moving; while the top is tipping over against the current, and you expect every moment to hear the splash of the train going down into the sea. But it doesn’t go, and there is no danger, frightful as it looks.

But now we come to a place that really seems fearful. We are in the middle of the lake. It is just twilight. Almost out of sight of land – nothing but a waste of waters on every side of that long, solitary railroad train, we leave the straight line, and go curving southward like a snake’s track. Why? Simply because the flood has carried the trestlework away from it straight course and left it in a zigzag line, and half upset at that some distance below where it originally stood.

So badly upset was the trestle – work, that in some places the rail on one side was 2 feet lower than the other, and it seemed as though it wanted only the weight of the train to throw it entirely down. The lower rail had however, been taken up, and timbers placed on that side to bring it up as high, and in some cases a little higher than on the other side so as to throw the most of the weight on the upper side. It was also braced up and stayed as well as could be done in the present state of the flood.

On this half -overturned, wrecked trestlework, our train crept cautiously along. A railroad train out at sea, with iron enough to anchor it safely at the bottom, and creeping along on a shaky trestlework, that the engineer was afraid to jar for fear he might jar it down.

 Back to Back programs

Dennis Stroughmatt  invites audiences to visit the history of early-20th-century Illinois and even sing along to the music of the age at the Lawrence County Historical Society’s program on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm. September 11.  The program will be held at the Lawrenceville High School Auditorium, 2200 James Street.  Admission is free.   

Paul Umfleet, local woodcarver and 'lover of all things Audubon', will educate the public with his program, Audubon on the Water Ways, 7 pm  Monday evening, September 12 at the Lawrenceville Public Library (12th Street). Admission is Free.  Come find out Audubon's connection with Lawrence County.