Prince William County Virginia Clerk’s Loose Papers

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Mr. Keith: Do you mean one-eighth of an inch more than they should have been, or all together?

Answer – They were one eighth-of an inch longer than they were wide; they were elongated one-eighth of an inch.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. What did you make that measurement with? Answer – A rule.

Q. What kind of a rule? Answer – A standard rule, the same as I have in my pocket.

Q. Can you measure with sufficient mechanical accuracy with a rule of that kind. Answer – If a man couldn’t measure an eighth of an inch hole with a rule I wouldn’t consider him a mechanic. That is what they put these marks on here (referring to rule) for, to go by.

Q. Is that what they are ordinarily measured with? Answer – Yes: I wouldn’t a set of micrometers or calipers of things of that kind.

Q. Did you measure the portion of the hole which remained on the piece of an arch-bar which was still attached to the truck? Answer – Did I notice it?

Q. The arch-bar was broken across the hole? Answer – No, sir, the arch-bar was not broken at all.

Q. I am in error. The tie-bar was broken across the hole? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Did you measure the portion of the hole that was upon the piece of tie-bar that remained attached to the truck? Answer – No, sir, I didn’t make any measurement of the tie-bar at all because it had nothing to do with the shearing of the tie-bar. The pieces on that end were missing and gone; the bolts were in there, and I did not take them off to make an examination.

Q. You could have measured if you had chosen to do so? Answer – If I had wanted to pull the truck to pieces.

Q. Couldn’t you have done it without pulling the truck to pieces? Answer – I would have had to take the nuts off and take the bolts out.

Q. This represents what you said --- Answer – (Interrupting) The majority of that hole was broken off and gone. If I understand your question, it is if I made any investigation of these holes?

Q. I say at first; I understood you to say awhile ago that the tie-bar was broken across the hole through which the column-bolt goes? Answer – Yes, sir, It wasn’t broken in the center, or not quite in the center, but I didn’t measure that hole at all.

Q. As a matter of fact, it was broken near the center of that hole? Answer – It was broken through the hole.

Q. You did not measure it? Answer – No.

Q. You could have done so if you had chose to? Answer – I couldn’t have made a very accurate measurement after it was dragging through the ballast and stuff.

Q. Were the edges of that hole bent at all? Answer – I didn’t measure that hole at all.

Q. I mean did you look at it? Answer – It was all battered up through dragging over the ballast.

Q. Were the edges of the hole battered up? Answer – I don’t know; the edges of the bar were battered up and worn off.

Q. What kind of break was that upon the tie-bar? Was it a fresh break? Answer – It had been dragging through the ballast and dirt, and where it had dragged over the frog, and I couldn’t say whether it was old or new. I wouldn’t say whether it was old or new, because it was battered up and wetted down nearly to a point, and there was very little to tell anything about it.

Q. You did not form, and have not now, an opinion upon that subject? About the tie-bar.

Q. Yes, whether it was a fresh break or not? Answer – No; as I said it was so battered up from dragging through the switch.

Q. You had no opinion then whether it was fresh or not? Answer – I don’t know whether it was fresh.

Q. Was there anything said between you and Mr. Flanagan about the break of the tie-bar? Answer – No

Q. Did not you and Mr. Flanagan agree that the break of the tie-bar was the cause of the tilting of the journal boxes, which, in turn, was the cause of the breaking or shearing of the journal bolts, which, in turn, was the cause of the dropping of the truck and of the wreck? Answer – No, sir.

Q. You did not? Answer – No, sir.

Q. Mr. Puckett, could you tell, in the condition in which you found that track after the wreck, whether before the wreck it had been standard? Answer – Standard?

Q. Yes. Answer – From the condition it was then.

Q. Yes. Answer – Of course, I would not tell you the condition before the wreck. I don’t know when I had seen it before; I don’t know when I was over the track; that is not my business. I am on the road a good deal, and of course I watch the track, but it is not a part of my business.

Court: He just asked you the question, he did not mean to charge you with anything. Answer – I

don’t know anything about the condition of the track before the wreck. Is that the question you want answered?

Mr. Browning: Yes, sir.

Answer – Except I know that piece of track there was in good shape, and they had not long before that put in a lot of ties down the hill and put in ballast.

Q. Mr. Keith asked you when you got there after the wreck if you made an examination of the track, and, if I remember correctly, you said, in substance, you did, and as far as you could tell it was all right? Answer – Outside of the damage done by the derailment.

Q. Now, as a matter of fact, after the damage that had been done by the derailment, you could not tell whether the track had, before the derailment, been all right or not, could you? Answer – No more than I could tell the condition of the ties, and about much ballast was there, and from the condition of the track on both sides of it and around there, and the rails, with the exception of being bent and broken.

Q. But, as a matter of fact, there are other elements than those you have named? Answer – The exact condition of the track before the wreck, at that particular point, I don’t know, as I didn’t see it.

Q. And you could not form an opinion from your inspection after the wreck? Any more than from the condition of the rails and ties, frogs and switches.

Q. Did you measure all the holes left in the arch-bars? Answer – Do you mean in that bent and broken end?

Q. Yes. Answer – Not back this way I did not: nothing in the truck except the holes in the two bars up there on the end that is bent.

Q. Those were the only holes that you measured? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. And were those the only measurements that you took in reference to the truck? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Were they the only measurements that you took in reference to any portion of that car No. 25,227? Answer – The measurement of the box-bolt holes?

Q. Yes. Answer – As well as I remember, that was the only thing I had any occasion to measure.

Q. I am not asking you about occasion, but asked you about the fact. Those were the only things you measured, as a matter of fact? Answer – That I recall to mind, yes, sir.

Q. You are speaking from your memory, are you not? Answer – I said as far as measuring those holes. I do know that I measured the holes in the bar, but I don’t remember making any other measurement at all, because there was nothing else I had any use to measure.

Q. You made no contemporaneous record of that measurement? Answer – Nothing more than I made in the report. I made a regular report of the derailment.

Mr. Keith: Have you got that with you? Answer – Yes, sir.

Mr. Browning: Did you measure the length of the portion of the bolt that was left to the nut that

you found? Answer – I did measure that; that is the piece I found; it was one inch and a quarter and the head. Q. At the head? Answer – Under the head.

Mr. Keith: One inch and a quarter under the head? Answer – Yes, sir; the head of the bolt and one

inch and a quarter of the bolt. If you will lend me the model I will show you what I mean. If you turn this up. I measured from here down.

Mr. Browning: Did you measure on both sides to see whether they were the same or whether one

side projected? Answer – No, sir, I just measured the piece that was done there. Q. You measured one side of the bolt, and found it an inch and a quarter? Answer – I measured it; I put my rule on it and measured it. And it measured an inch and a quarter.

Mr. Mackey: Including the nut? Answer – There was no nut there.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. How do you know, Mr. Puckett, that that measurement, if you had taken it on both sides, one might have been an inch and a quarter and the other an inch and an eighth? Answer – They might possibly be.

Q. So as far as you know it might be? Answer – I measured the bolt; where they shear on one side of it mashes it down a little bit; it pulls it down on the surface of the bolt where the shear starts, it would have a tendency to pull it in and it might be a little short if your measure it there, but if you turn it on either side of that little mashed place it would be the same all around.

Q. Could you say now there was not a difference? Answer – I say I measured it and it was an inch and a quarter and that is all I measured, and that is all I can say.

Q. I am not trying to catch you? Answer – I say it is an inch and a quarter.

Q. Could you say now that there was not a difference of one-eighth of an inch in the length of one side of that bolt as compared with the other? Answer – I say I measured that piece of bolt, I just picked it up and measured it and it measured an inch and a quarter; that is what I said at first.

Q. And you only measured on one side? Answer – I don’t know whether I measured one side or two, but I said it was an inch and a quarter.

Q. Do you understand what I am asking? Answer – Yes, I understand you mean it might be mashed up on one side and show from the measurement when the rule is perfectly flat a little longer on one side than the other.

Q. You are not prepared to say that that was not the case with this particular bolt? Answer – I say the measurement I took was one inch and a quarter, the piece of bolt, just the same as if I got out to buy a bolt, to a shop, and I measured it and it was an inch and a quarter, I would not turn it around and around to see if it was perfect. If it was cut off in a lathe it would be the same, but if it was sheared off it might not; the shearing might mash the bolt in a little on one side; in casually measuring it might be shorter.

Q. In the breaking would it be of uniform length? Answer – In breaking it would be more irregular in a break than in a shear except on the side that it mashed in, or had pushed over on the beginning of the cut. In breaking it might pull the grain of the iron down a quarter of an inch or an eighth of an inch, and on the other side it might pull out and it might be ragged. The cut would be straight and smoothe in a shear except where the strain was on the edge of the hole it might mash it in.

Q. It would be more apt to have an elongation on one side in a break than in a shear? Answer – In a break I say it would be ragged; a break it might be irregular and ragged all around; it wouldn’t be straight off.


By Mr. Keith:

Q. Did the condition of the box-bolt or box-bolts you found next morning after the wreck indicate a break or shear? Answer – It indicated a shearing of a box-bolt, not box-bolts.

Q. Did Mr. Flanagan agree with you in that view? Answer – Mr. Flanagan did not see it because someone had misplaced the bolt before Mr. Flanagan found it.

Q. This portion of a box-bolt and a portion of the column bolt produced here, are these the ones you saw after the wreck? Answer – No sir, I have never seen either one of those before. This is the lower end of the box-bolt with the nut on it, and the piece I had was the top end with the head on it.


Mr. Keith: We want to introduce this map in evidence.

Mr. Browning: We do not desire to object to it.

Mr. Patterson: We have no objection.
E. Fuller, another witness called on behalf of the Southern Railway Company, being duly sworn, testified as follows?

Mr. Hall: Will you come here just a minute, and explain this map, We offer in evidence a map

showing roadway from Bristow Station to a point just a little beyond where the accident occurred, and I will ask you, Mr. Fuller, to point out to the jury on that map the place where the accident occurred, and the various things that should be shown in connection with the map from Bristow down to the point of accident. Now, where did that accident occur? Answer – At this switch point. Mr. Hall – mark it as “A”

Mr. Keith: What is this right here marked “B”? Answer – That is the switch leading to the pump

house. This is the frog (indicating) Q. Marked “C”?

Court: Is that switch leading to the pump house marked as “Switch”?

Mr. Keith: Switch leading to coal trestle” Q. Now the accident, as I understand it, occurred at

about the point where the frog and the switch come together, or just a little beyond that? Answer – Yes, sir. Q. The switch leads into the coal trestle, I believe? Answer – Yes, sir. Q. And this is what is known as the pump house? Answer – Yes, sir. Q. And this is Broad Run? Answer – Yes, sir. Q. What is the distance between Broad Run and the point where the accident occurred? Is it marked there on the map? Answer – No, sir, I don’t see it marked. Q. What is the distance between the point where the accident occurred and Bristow Station, is it marked? Answer – Yes, sir; 2256 feet, 2256.5. Q. Now this is the road crossing down at Bristow marked Public Road? Answer – Yes, sir. Q. And here is the depot. And whose store is this across here, if you know, just opposite the depot? Answer – I don’t know. Q. Where does Mr. Hyde live? Answer – Here (indicating)

Court: I can tell you whose store it is. It is Mr. Davis’

Bystander: But this is Mr. Carr’s

Court: I thought it was on the other side.

Mr. Keith: Which is the north bound track? Q. The right hand track as you look towards

Washington? Answer – Yes, sir. Q. What position do you hold with the Southern Railway Company? Answer – Master mechanic of the Washington Division. Q. How long have you held that position? Answer – Three and ½ years. Q. Where is your place of business? Answer – My headquarters are Alexandria.

Court: I understand that map is now introduced in evidence.

By Mr. Keith: Yes, sir, I understand we have also introduced the model of that track and truck.

Q. Now Mr. Fuller, you say your place of business is in Alexandria? Answer – My headquarters are; my territory extends to Monroe, Virginia, and to Harrisonburg.

Q. When did you go to the scene of the accident that took place on the 23rd of February, 1915? Answer – I got there about 9:15.

Q. That night? Answer – That night.

Q. You can just state what you found there? Answer – The first thing I did after arriving there was to go through the train; that is, the two cars that were in the accident. I went into the rear of the ----

Q. (Interrupting) What did you find to be the condition of the steel passenger car that was attached to and a part of train No. 17? Answer – I found the window glass broken on the east side – that was the side next to the north bound track, - and the car badly scratched on the outside.

Q. What was the condition of the vestibule door, the door just above the steps of the car? Answer – That was slightly cracked and the corner post of the vestibule end was slightly damaged.

Q. What? Answer – The corner post of the vestibule end was slightly damaged; the glass in the vestibule end was also broken.

Q. How about the car door leading into the car itself? Answer – That was in good shape. There was nothing wrong with that on either side of the car.

Q. Which one of the vestibule doors did you find was scratched and somewhat injured? Answer – That was the front door on the east side.

Q. What else did you do that night? Answer – I went through the other car and found the front end of that car run up on some of the wreckage, and the truck –

Q. (Interrupting) That was the wooden car known as the combination car? Answer – Yes, sir; the glass was broken in the end of that car on the east side.

Q. State whether or not all the wheels of that steel car, the passenger car, were on the track? Answer – All on the track.

Q. Did you find any lumber or wreckage inside of the car? Answer – No, sir, nothing but glass.

Q. Do you know whether it was raining that day? Answer – No, sir, it was not raining that day.

Q. Did it rain that night after you got there? Answer – It commenced to rain just before we got there, between eight and nine o’clock.

Q. Well, to what extent did it rain? Answer – It rained all night.

Q. Did it rain next day? Answer – I believe it did a part of the day.

Q. You spent the night there, and were there the next morning I believe? Answer – yes, sir, the entire night.

Q. And what did you find to be the condition of the cars of the C&O freight train? Answer – Well, I found the coal car, the eleventh car from the engine, with the box-bolts gone in the rear box and the rear truck on the east side, that wheel was cocked up under the bottom of the car, the arch-bar was badly bent and down.

Q. But not broken? Answer – The arch-bars were not broken, but the tie-strap was broken and the end of it gone.

Q. Did you try to find that tie-strap or bottom strap? Answer – I did the next morning.

Q. Did you succeed? Answer – No, sir.

Q. Well, did you find any of the bolts of the box bar or column-bolt, or any parts of either of those bolts? Answer – I did not, but there were some who had gone over ahead of me, and I was told that they found them.

Q. Did you examine the condition of the holes these box-bolts fitted in? Answer – The arch-bars?

Q. Yes. Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What did you find to be the condition of those holes? Answer – They were worn slightly oblong.

Q. To what extent were they worn? Answer – I suppose one eighth of an inch or a little more.

Q. Will you state from your expert knowledge, as a master mechanic, what would cause those holes to wear oblong? Answer – By the bolts being loose and the bars working.

Q. How long would it take, in your opinion, to wear the holes in the condition you found them? Answer – It would probably take two or three months, and maybe longer.

Q. Would the shearing off of those bolts, box-bolts, or the breaking of those bolts, put those holes in the condition that you found them? Answer – No, I shouldn’t think so; it would have a tendency to slightly oblong them, but not as much as that.

Q. Now, then, if those holes were worn oblong, as you say, what would be the natural tendency? Answer – There would be a tendency to shear the bolts. The weight of that truck constructed like that is pulling one bar and pushing the other.

Q. Can you explain to the jury by that model just what you mean by that? Answer – You see this, what we call the top bar, and this is the bottom.

Q. Both of those are arch-bars? Answer – This is the top arch-bar and this the bottom arch-bar, and this the tie strap (indicating parts named); these two bars carry the weight of the car, or else the weight that is supposed to be carried by this truck. This bar being bent as it is, the weight coming here, it has a tendency to straighten it and push out and the bottom bar has a tendency to pull in, so one bar is pulling in and the other pushing out, and has a tendency to shear, and if the bolts are tight the friction between the two bars has a tendency to take the strain off; if these bolts are tight it clamps these two bars together and the friction between the bars takes the strain off the shearing strain off the bolt.

Q. What is the difference between the shearing of a bolt and the breaking? Can you tell us when you look at a bolt whether it has been broken or sheared off? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What is the difference? Answer – A bolt that is broken is pulled apart, and a bolt that is sheared is simply clipped off.

Court: Is it the difference of breaking a pencil and cutting it in two? Answer – The same thing.

Mr. Keith: What would be the difference that anybody could see if a bolt was broken and it was

sheared? Answer – One that is broken you pull the fibres apart, but one that is sheared you clip them in two; that is, they are sheared off even. If you break the bolt you have to pull it apart.

Q. Now, those box-bolts that were shown you there on that occasion, did they appear to you to have been broken or sheared? Answer – I didn’t see the bolts.

Q. You did not? Answer – No, sir; my car foreman found one of the bolts and laid it on a cross tie and called my attention to it, and went to get it and it was gone.

Q. What was the condition of the track of the southern Railway at the place of accident, except so far as it was torn up as the result of the accident? Answer – It appeared to me to be in good condition.

Q. What was the actual condition of the rails there which had been displaced by the accident, which of the rails had been displaced? Answer – The rails on the east side of the north bound track, while both tracks were torn up there for some little distance.

Q. What was the condition of the frog? Answer – The frog was in good shape.

Q. What was the condition of the switch on the north end of that frog? Answer – That switch was all right, but the stock rail, the outside rail leading into that pump house there, that was shoved off and turned over.

Q. What would be the effect of a train running on that track with that outside rail, which you call the stock rail, out of the way? Answer – It would put everything on the ground; that is the rail which leads off from the switch point, and of course if it is shoved out of the way everything behind it went on the ground, just like a derail switch.

Q. What would be the effect of an arch-bar dragging at the point there where this accident occurred?

Mr. Browning: Now, if your Honor please, we object to that question, as there is no evidence that

the arch-bar was dragging. The model that they have filed as an exhibit with the Southern Railway Company’s evidence is a model of the truck and arch-bars after the accident, and there is no evidence of an arch-bar dragging.

Court: I overrule the objection.

Mr. Browning: We except to the ruling of the court.

Court: I thought he said the moving of this cause the piece to cock up and brought the iron down

on the steel rail.

Mr. Keith: Now, with those box-bolts sheared off, as you have stated, or broken, what would be

the effect on the arch-bar? Answer – It would cause the end of the bars to spring up and allow the bottom of them to go down on the ties.

Q. Why would that take place? Answer – Because the bars are free; there is nothing there to support each other. When they are bolted together they support each other, but when the bolts are gone there is no support to them. The end of the bars projecting out let the weight go down.

Q. What would be the effect of the weight of a car loaded with coal, on this arch-bar with the box-bolt broken or sheared? Answer – It would put the end right up and let the truck down on the track.

Q. With the truck in that position, what would be the effect on the column-bolt, a part of which is produced here and now shown you? Answer – That would let this bolt down just on the outside of the rail.

Q. State whether or not it would break the column-bolt? Answer – Yes, sir; it wouldn’t unless it struck. When it comes to a frog this bolt hooked into the frog and locked in the frog and it broke it off.

Q. How would it break it? Would it be a clean break, how would it break it? Answer – It would have a tendency to shear this if it was tight. You can see yourself that that bolt ----

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