Prince William County Virginia Clerk’s Loose Papers

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By Mr. Browning:

Q. Mr. Shaw, were you any closer to the truck than six or eight feet away? Answer – No, sir, I was not.

Q. You did not get down on your knees and look under the truck and examine the parts of it, including the tie-bar, did you? Answer – I did not.


By Mr. Hall:

Q. What became of this arch-bar and truck on that C&O car? Answer – After we made the change from the broken truck, and put a good truck under this car, on the morning of the 24th we took a good truck off the Southern tool car, and placed it under the car that had the broken truck, and loaded the broken truck on our tool car, and brought it to Manassas.

Q. Do you know what became of it after that? Answer – We transferred it from our tool car to the C&O tool car on the morning of the 25th.

Q. Where was that? Answer – On the southbound passenger car at Manassas.

Q. Is that the last you saw of that arch-bar? Answer – That is the last.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. You did not take that truck to Alexandria then? Answer – No, sir, we did not.

K Bond another witness called on behalf of the Southern Railway Company, being duly sworn, testified as follows:
EXAMINED - By Mr. Hall:

Q. Mr. Bond, where do you live? Answer – Alexandria.

Q. And by whom are you employed? Answer – Southern Railway.

Q. What is your position? Answer – Car repairer.

Q. Do you know anything about this wreck at Bristow? Answer – I was down there.

Q. State whether or not you looked at C&O car 25,227 with the arch-bars? Answer – I did; I saw it.

Q. You saw the car? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Do you know what became of those trucks, the arch-bars and that sort of thing? Answer – The truck, that was given over to the C&O.

Q. When did you give it over to the C&O? Answer – The morning of the 25th.

Q. Where? Answer – At Manassas.

Q. Were you riding on the derrick car at that time – were you a member of the wrecking crew? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Were you working under Mr. Hood? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. And with Mr. Shaw? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. He is the derrick engineer? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Did you examine that passenger coach at all, 1491? Answer – I went through it next morning.

Q. Next morning? Answer – Yes, sir.

W. E. Midkiff another witness called on behalf of the Southern Railway Company, being duly sworn, testified as follows:
By Mr. Keith:

Q. Mr. Midkiff, where do you live? Answer – I live at Alexandria.

Q. What is your employment? Answer – Roadmaster for Southern Railway, Washington Division.

Q. How long have you held that position? Answer – Three years and six months.

Q. What was your employment before that? Answer – I was track supervisor.

Q. For the Southern? Answer – Virginia & Southwestern, a part of the Southern.

Q. Did you go to the scene of this accident which occurred near Bristow February 23, 1915? Ans. Yes.

Q. What time did you get there? Answer – Sometime in the morning. I went there on the C&O derrick; I don’t remember what time I got there.

Q. What was the condition of the track there? Answer – The track was torn up on both sides when I got to the scene of the accident, and the north track seemed to have about six or eight rails thrown off the ties, and the ties were piled up, and several cars on that side yet, as well as I remember. The south track was getting very near clear. Mr. Fuller was in there, and they had moved the wreckage out, and had gotten pretty well clear except the one spot they had laid some rails. I don’t remember exactly how many on the south track.

Q. What is the extent of the road under your supervision? Answer – We work from Alexandria to just south of Monroe, Winesap, and from Monroe to Harrisonburg.

Q. You are the roadmaster? Answer – Yes, sir, for the Washington Division.

Q. What was the condition of that track there at the point of the accident? Answer – The point of accident?

Q. Yes. The track at the point of the accident was torn up as I stated?

Q. I mean just before the accident, if you know? Answer – The track has been recently surfaced there, probably in the last year.

Q. When were you over that track last before the accident? Answer – I went over on 43 the day before the accident. I went over the south track, and I had been over it the day before, over the north track on 44.

Q. How frequently do you get over the track? Answer – Over that part of the track, I get over it probably five or six times a week on the train, and often walking. We have days we go over it on the train, and come back over it on the motor car, and make inspections in various ways.

q. State in what way you do make inspection? Answer – We ride over on the train, and make inspection in that way, and then try to make it every week on the motorcar, but we don’t always get to do that. We run on slow and look at general conditions.

Q. And you say you walk over the track? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What was the condition of that track between the point of the accident and Bristow just before the accident? Answer – It was just about as good as we could make it.

Q. How about the ballasting? Answer – The ballasting was good.

Q. And what ballasting had been done on that part of the track? Answer – From the Bristow Station down to Broad Run Bridge, we recently surfaced it that month. We surfaced that track and put in new ties, and tamped the ballast, and it was ready for dressing. In fact from Bristow south----

Q. What kind of ballasting? Answer – We got the granite – tone, from Stacey, North Carolina. Before I surfaced it myself, it had been surfaced before that with ground stone from Gaither’s quarry, near Bristow. We had re-surfaced it with this new stone we got from North Carolina.

Q. What was the condition of the rail? Answer – The rail was laid in 1909.

Q. What was it? Answer – T. C. & I. 85 to the yard.

Q. Are all those rails standard rail? Answer – This is the heaviest rail we are using on Southern Railway.

Q. The heaviest you use? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Were the rails in actual good condition? Answer – Yes, sir; we had no complaint of it.

Q. Between Bristow and the point of the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What was the condition of the frog and switch there just about the place of the accident? Answer – That was a Carlisle frog, one of our standard frogs.

Q. When had it been put on? Answer – I couldn’t just say, but not over six or eight months, or something like that. I have a record of it here.

Q. How about the switch? Answer – I think that switch was put in just after they had a derailment some time before that.

Q. But the freight train was running on the main line, and not on the switch? Answer – Yes, sir. There is one point you always use on a main line, and the other point you use going into this side track.

Q. This C&O train that was wrecked was running on the main line, of course? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Was there anything wrong at all with anything between Bristow and the point of the wreck? Answer – Everything was in first class condition, so far as I could see.

Q. The rails and truck and roadbed? Answer – Yes, sir. We had plenty of ties and rails and plenty of men, and there was no reason for not having a good track.

Q. You stated the size and weight of the rails? Answer – Yes, sir, 85 pound rail – 85 pounds to the yard.

Q. Do you know whether or not it rained on the night of the accident? Answer – Yes, sir, it rained that night, and rained next morning very hard. We had continuous rain there.

The Court: What was the condition of that track south of Bristow, say, for half mile?

Mr. Keith: Your honor knows our position and we object.

The Court: Note an objection.

Note: Exception is noted by counsel for Southern Railway.

The Court: South of Bristow say for half mile? Answer – The track was all right. Q. It was in

good condition? Answer – Yes, sir, good track all the way. Q. How about the rails and ties? Answer – The same rails were laid there as laid north. The rails were all right.

Mr. Keith: Mr. Midkiff, you say that these ties were good from between Bristow and point of the

accident; state whether or not any new ties had been put in there in the last year or so? Answer – I do not believe there was a tie in the track that had been in there two years. Q. What kind of ties were they? Answer – Oak ties. Q. Were they first class? Answer – First class principally; there may have been a few second class. Q. What do you consider the average life of a tie? Answer – We consider the average life of an oak tie seven years.


Mr. Mackey: Mr. Midkiff, when did you walk over that track from the point of the accident half

mile south of Bristow Station before the accident? Answer – I couldn’t just exactly tell you, but it had not been very long.

Mr. Keith: You understand we object to that.

The Court: Yes, I understand, and I overrule it, and you except.

Mr. Keith: Yes, sir.

The Court: I think that as far as these gentlemen are concerned, they should be confined to the

point of accident, but you two gentlemen can go beyond.

Mr. Browning: For the purpose stated?

The Court: Yes, sir.

Mr. Browning: Q. You say you cannot tell? Answer – It had not been over two weeks. Q. How

long before the accident, Mr. Midkiff, had you traveled over that track from the point of accident half mile south of Bristow in a motorcar, what you call a motorcar?

The Court: (Interposing) May I ask if a motorcar is a little truck? Ans. – Yes, sir, a gasoline car

Q. That runs by gasoline? Answer – Yes, sir.

Mr. Mackey: Called a motor handcar by some people.

The Court: Yes, Q. You mean a motor truck, a little handcar? Answer – Yes, sir; the car we were

using at that time weighed about 450 pounds, and carried two or three men. Q. It is on the nature of a handcar, only it is run by motor; it has no top to it? Answer – No, sir, no top, but just a frame.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. How long did you say? Answer – I couldn’t say, but it had not been very long. It had not been over fifteen days. I would say. It might not have been that long. It might have been eight days, but I would not say positively about that.

Q. Now, Mr. Midkiff, a motorcar, such as you used to go over the track, is very light, a slight machine compared to a loaded freight car, is it not? Answer – Yes, sir, of course they are small.

Q. Going over a track that was defective in a motorcar, the motorcar would not – there is no up and down motion that would be produced at all? Answer – It would if the track was real rough. We don’t do our inspecting by motorcar, but by looking at it.

Q. Which is the most efficient way to inspect a track for the purpose of determining whether it is defective, or not examining it or being on a car, and determining by the up and down motion of the car. Answer – Well, either way. The most correct way would be to walk over it, and look at it, or to ride over it and look at it. A man, if he can see the track, would know very well whether it was good or bad. In riding over it we might have what would be good track, but it might be a little rough. You can look at it, and I think any other track man can do the same, by looking you know.

Q. Is not the most efficient way to walk over it, and see trains pass over it? Answer – No, I would not think so. It is all right to walk over it, but as far as the trains, there would not be-there is no inspection done that way that I ever heard of.

Q. Noticing a train pass over a defective track would not give to the party looking at it, or noticing it, any idea whether it was rough at all, or not? Answer – I would not think it would amount to much. All tracks vibrate. In going over a track, you have vibration. The best track does that. If there was not a little motion, the track would ride very bad. You have to have a little vibration. With the weight the track springs down and springs up. A man looking with his eye would see the track vibrate before he knew what it meant. I would know, but I don’t know about others. There is no track inspected that way that I know of. We either get it by riding on an engine, or going along walking or by a motorcar going slow.

Q. What do you call vibrating? Answer – I call it the up and down movement.

Q. That is what you mean by vibrating? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Mr. Midkiff, you said that these rails were laid in 1909? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. How do you know that? Answer – We know by the brand on the rail, for one thing, and then the records in our office. We have a chart and blue print, in other words, which gives the profiles of the track, and it is marked in there.

Q. As a matter of fact, in 1909 you were not employed by Southern Railway Company? Answer – No, I was not on this division.

Q. I believe you said on cross examination that you could not say that you had been over it, either walking or in a motor car, within ten days of the accident; you could not state positively? Answer – No. It was something near that, ten or fifteen days, I said.

Q. Now, Mr. Midkiff, did you examine the track from the point of accident to Bristow immediately after the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. And from Bristow half mile south? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Immediately after the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. For what purpose did you make that examination? Answer – I made an examination to see what was the cause of the accident. We all decided what was the trouble as soon as we got there. We heard them say that the accident was caused by the box-bolt coming off.

Q. Don’t say what anybody said to you. That is hearsay. Now, you say you examined the tracks? Answer – Yes, sir, I examined the tracks.

Q. Both north and south of Bristow Station, for the purpose of ascertaining what was the cause of the accident? Answer – Yes, sir. I wanted really to see what was the cause of the accident.

Q. Why did you examine the tracks to see what was the cause of the accident? Answer – When we have a break down that way we can always discover at the point where it first came down. We wanted to see where it first dropped, and in making up our report –

Q. (Interposing) You wanted to see where it first dropped down? Answer – Yes, sir, where the arch-bar fell down.

Q. Where the arch-bar fell down? Answer –yes, sir, where it fell and hit the ties.

Q. As a matter of fact, did the arch-bar fall down? Answer – It dropped on the ties.

Q. Did you ascertain that? Answer – I looked at the car; the car was sitting there when I got there next morning; I goes up and sees the car sitting up there that pulled the balance of the train away; this car that caused the derailment was sitting on the north track with one set of wheels off the track, and the journal all broken out. The boxing was all gone and the box-bolt had sheared off and this bar had slid along by the side of the rail. I goes back the next place to look, and find at Bristow, near the point of the accident, I find where it struck the frog and bent the frog. The next place it hit was the heel of the switch; it struck the stock rail at the heel of the switch, and it bent that, and turned over. The next impression was on the roadcrossing.

Mr. Hall: On this map, please, sir, point out where that was.

Mr. Browning: Have I got the witness, or has Mr. Hall got him?

Mr. Hall: Pardon me, but I thought you wanted it pointed out.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. Mr. Midkiff, I did not want to ask you anything about this map, but I will get through with you.Answer – All right, sir, I will do anything you want done. I would like to tell you how it was done.

Q. I don’t object to your telling how it was done. I suppose your counsel will ask you about the map when they see fit. When you made this examination of the track, seeking to ascertain the cause of the accident, how far did you examine the track south of Bristow Station. Answer – I went to Nokesville.

Q. You went all the way back to Nokesville examining the track? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Now, you said that the track was just about as good as you could make it? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Immediately preceding the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. That was about perfect, wasn’t it? Answer – Well, it was almost perfect, yes, sir.

Q. Is it now in about the condition that it was immediately preceding the accident? Answer – Well, the track was really better if it had been resurfaced.

Q. Really better now? Answer – Really better then.

Q. In what respect? Answer – Of course the track is now in fair condition, it had been recently overhauled.

Q. The track is now in fair condition? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. It is better now than then? Answer – No, sir it was better then. Just before we come down resurfacing, and put on new joints where we found any cracked angle joint, and did a general overhauling.

Q. To have a track in that very nearly perfect condition, what sort of ties would you have? Answer –We used oak ties.

Q. What sort of oak ties? I believe there are three classes of ties, are there not? Answer – What sort of ties would you have to make it in this perfect condition? Answer – We could use either class, and make it a good track. If we have more ties we use more small ties than large ones. To put them the same distance apart, we generally put them about a foot apart, and if we have small ties we put them closer together, and there might have been a few second class ties in that track.

Q. There might have been a few second class ties in that track when? Answer – At the time of the accident. There might probably have been a dozen between Bristow and Nokesville.

Q. What is the width of the space between the first class ties? Answer – We put them about a foot apart from one edge of the tie to another, and use eighteen or twenty ties to the rail. If they are big ties we use eighteen, and if there are small we might put twenty.

Q. The second class are just as good as the first; you have to use more? Answer – It is all right to use them now and then.

Q. They are just as good? Answer – I think that they give just as good service.

Q. Why is it you don’t use many of them? Answer – We don’t get many of them.

Q. Are they not cheaper? Answer – They are a little cheaper. You get a second class tie for probably 48 cents, and the first class tie you may get for 58 or 68.

Q. If they are just as good, would it not be to the interest of the road to buy the cheaper, if it makes the track just as good? Answer – It might be. They use a good deal of them at different places. Q. Now Mr. Midkiff there is a roadcrossing there just barely north of Bristow Station, isn’t there? Answer – yes, there is a roadcrossing there.

Q. How is your track protected at that roadcrossing, or rather, how is it made smooth enough for vehicles to travel over it with comfort? Answer – We have crossing planks put over the side of the rail and fill in with ballast or fine screenings.

Q. Are the roadcrossings places that are there now the same that were there at the time of the accident? Answer – I think possibly they are, but I would not be certain about that.

Q. I understood you to say that you were the track master, are you? Answer – I am the roadmaster.

Q. All of this comes under your supervision, does it not? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. You are responsible for the track and the conditions, are you not? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Now you say that these planks, so far as you know, are the same? I think so but would not be certain.

Q. The platform at the station, is that the same now as it was? Answer – The platform at the station is made out of screenings and may have renewed it.

Q. It is made out of what? Answer – It is made out of screenings. It is not wood. It is fine screening that we get with one grade of ballast, you may say.

Q. What provision do you make at stations so that trucks can easily go across your tracks? Answer – We have little crossings; there is a little crossing there.

Q. Of what material? Answer – We use plank.

Q. Are those planks for the track crossing at the station at Bristow the same as they were at the time of the accident? Answer – The same, I think.

Q. As at the time of the accident? Answer – Yes, sir, to the best of my knowledge. Now that is not the roadmaster, but a little truck crossing you are talking about right at the station?

Q. Yes, You said the roadcrossing was the same? Answer – I think the roadcrossing is the same, but I am not sure.

Q. I had questioned you about this roadcrossing previous to this? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Now Mr. Midkiff, is that track from where the accident occurred, from the point of accident to Bristow Station and half mile south of Bristow Station, in good condition now? Answer – Yes, sir.

Mr. Keith: The same objection.

The Court: What is the objection, as to the distance or the condition.

Mr. Keith: The condition of the track now.

The Court: I sustain the objection now. As to the distance I over-rule it. I think the condition at

present has nothing to do with it. As to the distance, I will permit you to go half mile further.

Mr. Hall: That is excluded, I understand.

The Court: Yes, sir, as to the condition now. I want to state again that the only reason for

admitting testimony as to the condition of the track half mile south of Bristow is in response to the line of defense that the C&O Railroad gave that they would follow or adopt, but not in any way to affect the complainant. The complainant or plaintiff, I will hold, so far as he is entitled to recover, to the condition of the railroad track at or near the place of accident.

Mr. Browning: We think we have finished with him.


By Mr. Keith:

Q. Mr. Midkiff, will you step here and look at this map. Now please show to the jury on this map the marks that you found on that track on the rails? Answer – I do not think that map reaches quite as far as I found the marks.

Q. Start down that way, and come this way, and say where you found any traces? Answer – As I said before, the rail was sitting up here, and it went through this track and supporting rails. The rail sitting up here, there was one pair of wheels and the arch-bar dropped. The switch point cuts on right through. This is the stock rail. The main rail sits up against it. This thing in dragging, got on this side, and it struck there, and the frog was very strong, and it made a kink in the frog, and it didn’t injure the main line part of the frog.

Q. You mean the right hand side? Answer – Yes, sir; it knocked it on that side. It goes on this side, and struck the stock rail. Then it sheared the spikes off and the braces under the switch plate, and turned this rail out. When it does that, then the wheel turned in. It knocked that inner rail out four or five inches. That wheel drops in and begins to pilot the ties, and knocked the rail off. The next place – we had a little crossing here at the tool house; there was a light impression there; it struck a plank there at the tool house. The next thing there was a place on the switch near the public road, near the mail crane at Bristow. It hit the frog there at the same place it did down there at the stock rail. It knocked that out, and did not get quite far enough off to drop in. The next place on roadcrossing is just north of the depot.

Q. Describe the impression? Answer – The impression on the plank, as well as I remember, was about four inches wide, about as wide as my hand.

Q. About how wide is an arch-bar? Answer – They are about four or five inches. It just showed the shape of the arch-bar dragging, right over that crossing plank. Up on the hill, at the 37 mile post ---

Q. How far south of Bristow? Answer – That is about one-fourth of a mile, or probably a little further, It struck two ties up there. There was quite an impression on me and a slight one on the other. There was a switch at the quarry, at the Gaither quarry, at Catlett Run. I looked there at the frog, as I was certain I would see an impression, but there did not seem to be any thing dragging, and I went on to Nokesville, and there was nothing dragging.

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