Prince William County Virginia Clerk’s Loose Papers

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The Court: As I understand you saw no indication on the railroad of any bruise or impression

having been made by whatever dropped from this car beyond half mile south of Bristow? Answer – Quarter of a mile. Q. I say beyond half? Answer – There was none. About the 37 mile post is the point.

By Mr. Keith:

Q. Now, Mr. Midkiff, something has been said about the motion of a track going up and down as trains go over it. What would be the effect if the track did not give to some extend as the train goes over it? Answer – It would give a bad effect on the rolling stock, and it would also be impossible to keep the rails. If the track is too solid you could not operate it. That has been tried out.

Q. Did you ever go over a track where it did not move up and down a little? Answer – I never did.

Q. Suppose you had iron ties? Answer – That is the objection to iron ties, so far as I know, but I never tried them.

Q. Iron or concrete, are they used on some roads? Answer – No, sir.

Q. They are not in general use by any of the standard railroads, are they – iron or concrete? Answer – Not generally, no, sir.

Q. I want to ask you, without waiving the exception about the roadbed from half mile south of Bristow to the point of accident; the roadbed was in what condition? Answer – First class.

Q. Have you any better track on your road than that track was? Answer – I don’t think there is any better track on anybody’s road than that.

Q. Mr. Browning asked you if the second class ties were as good as first class and cheaper, why didn’t you use them; I ask you isn’t it a fact that you have to use more second class ties? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Considering that you have to use more, would they be any cheaper? Answer – No. There is only ten or fifteen cents difference in the price anyway.

Q. Has the C&O Railroad Company ever made any complaint to you about the condition of that track? Answer – They never have.

Q. Half mile south of Bristow to the point of the accident? Answer – There has never been any complaint to me about that track. I never had but one complaint from the C&O and that is when I first came to this division they got after us about using too many ties. Mr. Isaac had a complaint with Mr. Dobbins, and they said we were using them too extravagantly.

Q. They helped to pay for them? Answer – Yes, sir, and said there was too much raising of the track by patching in ties and in surfacing so much.

Q. Do you know any of the C&O track and roadbed? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Take your track half mile south of Bristow to the point of accident, do you know of any of their track that is any better.

Mr. Browning: We object to that.

Mr. Keith: We withdraw it.

The Court: You can ask whether this track is standard, but as to comparing this with any

individual track I do not think you can.

By Mr. Keith:

Q. What is the section of the road, Mr. Midkiff, which included the part of the track that we have been talking about from the scene of accident to half mile south of Bristow? Answer – That section from Bristow runs from 35 mile post to 40 mile post.

Q. Where is 36 mile post? Answer – North of Bristow Station about half mile.

Q. It runs to what point? Answer – It runs to just south of Nokesville about two-tenths of a mile.

Q. How many men do you keep employed on that section of the road? Answer – We work nine, and as low as seven men on that section.

Q. Do those men have anything to do except to keep that track in shape on that section? Answer – No, sir, and we have also done a good deal of work with our extra gang.

Q. Within what time? Answer – Two years prior to the accident. Our extra force put in about four thousand new ties on this section.

Q. They put in about four thousand new ties? Answer – I have my book which I keep. The extra gang spent 3200 – no $3264.61; that is what the extra gang spent in labor, and 4421 ties.

Q. Putting in ties what time previous to this accident? Answer – In the twenty-six months before the accident, but I don’t think really we got – there was one or two books we are not certain what they were doing, but they were banking.

Q. Have you the figures to show what you spent on that section two years previous to the accident? Answer – Here is the way we take it off our books in months.

The Court: Q. This is previous to the accident? Answer – Yes, sir, in twenty-six months. The

section foreman spent $5817.26 and he used 9665 ties. Q. Now about ballasting? Answer – He used about five sets of switch ties on the section; one spring frog. Q. Where was that spring frog put in? Answer – That spring frog was put in at Upper Nokesville. We have a set of switch ties at the pump station. Q. Then you have another? Answer – Yes, sir. Q. Where was it put in? Answer – On the south track at Bristow. Q. When was that switch frog put in at the point of the accident? Answer – I have got it down, but I haven’t it with me. It was six or eight months before the accident. We were taking out frogs generally over the division.

Q. Can you give what was spent in that six months before the accident? Answer – (Witness makes calculation). Our records show that we used $9081.87 in money on labor on that section in twenty-six months and 14286 cross ties.

Q. Are you familiar with tracks of other roads besides the Southern? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Is the track of the Southern that we have been talking about from the point of accident to half mile south of Bristow a standard first class track? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. In every respect? Answer – Yes, sir.


By Mr. Browning:

Q. Mr. Keith asked you if the C&O did not help pay for these ties? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Who put them in? Answer – The Southern Railway force.

Q. Who maintained that track ---

The Court: (Interposing) Did they say that they paid or helped pay? Answer – They pay a

percentage, according to the number of trains figured out according to the car.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. I asked you who maintained the track, the C&O or Southern? Answer – Southern forces maintained the track.

Q. Now, these figures that you have given, Mr. Midkiff, in your re-direct examination, apply to a section foreman’s section, if I understand you? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What is the length of that section? Answer – The section is four miles long.

Q. Do you know what proportion of those ties were laid in the piece of track from where this wreck occurred to a point one half mile south of Bristow Station. Answer – At that time, according to our books, I don’t know positively; our books only show in sections. We have a new book now that has been gotten out in the last two years which shows the north and southbound track, but our book, at that time did not show.

Q. And you don’t know? Answer – I know a big portion more was used on the north track than on the south. But I couldn’t say exactly how many.

Q. Do you know what percentage of the money that you have detailed in your re-direct examination was spent on the portion of the track that I have described – the portion of the section that I have described? Answer – You are talking about mile and a half south ---

Q. (Interposing) No, from the point of the accident to half mile south of Bristow, which would be less than a mile; it would be about three-quarters of a mile, I guess? Answer – The way we figure it out here on the reports that we got out – according to the book and our estimate is the best we can get it; the book shows the entire section, but in our estimate I made of the work we spent with the section force on that particular part of the track over $1,000,000

Q. From the point of accident to half mile south of Bristow? Answer – Yes, sir, in the twenty-six months we figured here.

Q. Prior to the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. On what did you base that estimate? Answer – We based it this way: We took the second four miles long, which included eight miles of track, and we divided it by that part of the track you are talking about. That is the only way we could get it.

Q. You only got at it by taking what proportion the track I have mentioned is to the section? Answer – Yes.

Q. There are eight miles of track actually in that four miles of section, it being a double track? Answer – Yes, sir, two tracks.

Q. Now, you say you saw a mark on the planks at the roadcrossing the morning after the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Which end of the plank was that mark on? Answer – It was on the south end, and the plank was moved. I just can’t tell you exactly.

Q. That mark, you say, was about four inches wide; how long was it? Answer – Well, as I remember, it was something like a yard long. Where it struck the plank, it knocked the plank ahead, as I remember.

Q. How deep was it? Answer – It was a good impression, just like you hit an oak plank; it was probably one-eight inch, and covered with a good scar.

Q. Was it a scar that would endure? Answer – I don’t hardly think a scar like that would last on a good piece of plank.

Q. That was an oak plank, was it not? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Oak is a very hard wood; it was enough scar to last two weeks, wasn’t it? Answer – Oh, certainly.

Q. And would have been discoverable by an examination made within two weeks? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Now, you say you noticed another mark about quarter of a mile south of that point? Answer – It struck a tie up there. There was one tie that seem to be turned up at the end. It was a new tie, but seemed to be a little crooked at the end, and I found a mark on that very heavy, and it struck another tie very slightly. As I remember in putting the tie down they had to add it to make it level with the rail.

Q. How far is that tie (I mean the one further south from Bristow) how far was that mark from the outer edge of the rail? Answer – It was five or six inches, I just couldn’t say; it was about on the same line as the other. It struck me that it was the same thing that hit down there, and I was confident it was.

Q. Now what was the character of that mark? Answer – Just like I described before, something like three and a half or four inches broad; it struck it, and bruised the timber, and the next seemed to be slight, and didn’t hit it as fair as the other.

Q. Did you ever see a track (I believe you said you did not) in which there was no response or vibration – absolutely none? Answer – I never have.

Q. If such a one could be constructed, you said it would not be good on the rolling stock, I believe. Answer – That is the opinion of everybody and myself.

Q. You have nothing in your experience to base that statement on? Answer – I had one cut, for instance, in grading the track he stone was left rather high, and we had a track on solid rock, and it was powerful riding, and we had to go to the engineers to raise it. That was one instance I would call solid. It was in limestone country, and this track was on solid rock, and there was no tamping, and no cushion. That is only real experience I ever had.

Q. How long was that piece? Answer – That piece of track was in the cut we called the Moneyhon Cut. The cut was about 150 feet long of solid rock, and the other part had been shot down and filled in. In surfacing the track the grade stakes ran out so as not to allow any ballast.

The Court: He said about how long? Answer – About 100 feet.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. 100 or 150? Answer – About 100

Q. Did the difficulty there arise in keeping your track in condition, or did it arise to the rolling stock? Answer – It was a bad riding piece of track. When you go over it on the engine, the minute you strike that piece of track you feel it pounding.

Q. Wasn’t it because the engine was pounding? Answer – It was my opinion because it was the pounding of the track.

Q. It was the pounding of the track that caused the pounding of the engines? Answer – The weight would go down; there was no cushion under the truck. I think most any railroad man will tell you that they wouldn’t have a track that didn’t vibrate.

Q. The more solid you can get a truck, a track line like the Southern track near Bristow, that is a ballasted track, the better it is? Answer – They will not let us use much stone, or anything like that, but we have to use fine stone that will give that little spring. We use small crushed stone. Our standard calls for stone not over two inches.

Q. And from there down? Answer – Yes, sir, anything that hasn’t dirt in it.

Q. And your endeavor is to make it as solid as it can be made with that ballast, and to keep it so, isn’t it? Answer – Yes, sir.

NOTE: Mr. Hall stated that he wished to ask Mr. Shaw and Mr. Bond a question, and they could

answer without coming to the witness stand.

By Mr. Hall:

Q. Do you all recollect whether it was raining on the night after the accident, while you were engaged in clearing away this accident? Answer – The night of the 23rd was.

Q. How about you, Mr. Shaw? Answer – Yes, Sir.

Q. State what kind of rain it was? Answer – It was a rather steady rain. There was not any thunder shower or anything like that, but a steady rain all night long.

Q. How about the next day? Answer – It rained all day off and on.

Q. How about you, Mr. Shaw? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. A steady rain? Answer – Yes, sir.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. Did it rain hard enough there to have any effect upon that track? Answer – It rained all night a steady rain. I will have to leave to a track man to say. I am not a track man.

Q. Did it rain hard enough, Mr. Bond, to have any effect on the track? Answer – I am like him, I am not a track man, but it rained hard, and it was pretty that day.

Dennis O’Neal another witness called on behalf of the Southern Railway Company, being duly sworn, testified as follows:
By Mr. Keith:

Q. Mr. O’Neal, where do you live? Answer – Manassas

Q. How long have you lived in Manassas? Answer – About eight or nine years,

Q. Sir? Answer – About eight years.

Q. What is your employment? Answer – Supervisor.

Q. Of the Southern Railway? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. How long have you been supervisor? Answer – About eight years.

Q. Previous to that what was your occupation? Answer – I was extra foreman running on the work train.

Q. How long have you been working on the railroad all together? About 42 years.

Q. As supervisor what do you have charge of? Answer – The tracks.

Q. What part of the Tracks? Answer – The maintenance of them.

Q. What part of the tracks? Answer – From Alexandria to Culpepper.

Q. Who is foreman of the track that commences about half mile north of Bristow and extends south about four miles? Answer – John Hyde.

Q. And how many men he employed under him say the two years previous to this accident? Answer – Five and six men, and sometimes he has as many as eight.

Q. In the two years previous to this accident, did you have any extra force working on that section? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Compared to the rest of the section, did you do more or less work on the part of the section from the point of the accident—Answer – (interposing) We just finished up from Bristow to the bridge near there the wreck occurred.

Q. You just finished from Bristow back? Answer – To where the wreck happened.

Q. What had you done to that part of the track? Answer – Newly surfaced it up and tied it.

Q. And what was the actual condition of that track? Answer – Good.

Mr. Keith: I am going to ask him about half mile south of Bristow without waving my objection,

to save time.

Q. What was the condition of that track from half mile south of Bristow to the point of accident? Answer – Good.

Q. What kind of rails were on the track? Answer – 85 pound Tennessee rails.

Q. What do you mean 85 pounds? Answer – 85 pound to the yard.

Q. Standard rails? Answer – Yes, sir, that is what we have.

Q. When were they put in there, if you know? Answer – About five years ago, I think.

Q. Were they in good condition? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What is he life of a rail ordinarily? Answer – Ten to twelve years on a straight line.

Q. Was there anything wrong with that track at all from half mile south of Bristow to point of the wreck? Answer – No, sir.

Q. How were the ties, and what kind of ties? Answer – Good timber.

Q. What kind of ties were they? Answer – Oak.

Q. Standard ties? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. How about the ballasting? Answer – The ballast was put up, it was Gaither quarry?

Q. You mean you first put in ballast from the Gaither quarry? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. And then got the ballast from where? Answer – From Stacey, North Carolina.

Q. What sort is that? Answer – White stone, harder stone than we got from Gaither.

Q. When did you put in the ballast from the Stacey quarry? Answer – In 1915, I think, but I can’t say what month.

Q. Mr. Hyde, you say is your foreman there? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. How long has he been foreman? Answer – I don’t know. He was foreman when I come here, but I don’t know how long he has been there.

Q. State whether or not he is a capable and competent foreman? Answer – Yes, sir.

Mr. Browning: I am not satisfied whether that is a proper question, but I want to save the point.

The Court: I over-rule the objection.

By Mr. Keith:

Q. Is he a competent man for the position that he holds? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Did you go over that track after the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. When did you get there? Answer – I went after the accident?

Q. Yes. Answer – I reckon – I don’t reckon it was over an hour.

Q. You were there the next morning? Answer – Yes, sir, and I was there all night.

Q. Did you go over the track next morning? Answer – Yes, sir, and I went over it as far as those switches.

Q. And what did you find – did you see any marks on the ties or on the rails indicating that something had dragged? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What did you find, and where? Answer – I found crossing planks, where it went over crossing planks.

Q. Where are the crossing planks? Answer – At Bristow.

Q. What did you find there at the crossing planks? Answer – I saw where something had dragged over it, and moved the crossing planks.

Q. Then, what else? Where did you find the first mark? Answer – The last mark I found was up there about the 37 mile post.

Q. How far south of Bristow is that? Answer – About quarter of a mile.

Q. What sort of mark was that? Answer – A mark on the ties, as if something had struck it; it was a high tie.

Q. Did you go to Nokesville? Answer – No, I went to the top of the hill.

Q. Was that track half mile south of Bristow to the point of accident a good, first class track at the time of the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Was there anything wrong with the rails, ties or ballasting or lines, or anything else that affects a good track? Answer – No, sir.


By Mr. Browning:

Q. You said you put that ballast on in 1915; was it spring, summer or fall? Answer – I couldn’t tell the month nor the day.

Q. I didn’t ask you the month, but could you tell me the season, whether spring or summer? Answer – No.

Q. You know it was put in, in 1915? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Do you know whether it was the beginning or end of 1915? Answer – No.

Q. How do you know that it was put in, in 1915? Answer – I am pretty sure of that, but I could not give you the month or the day.

Q. Are you absolutely sure it was put in, in 1915? Answer I think so.

Q. Now you say you had just finished from Bristow to the bridge? Answer – Surfacing and tieing it up.

Q. I didn’t catch that? Answer – And putting in the timber.

Q. From Bristow to the bridge? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Which way were you working? Answer - Working north.

Q. Where did you start? Answer – Started at the switch, and worked to the bridge north.

Q. Started at the switch, which is a little north from Bristow? Answer – Yes, sir. There are two rails there that we had never finished dressing it up; it had been surfaced and tamped, but we had not finished dressing it up, and were working on it the day of the wreck.

Q. You say you went over the track about an hour after the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Was it dark then? Answer – Yes, sir, it was getting dark, and I had a light with me.

Q. But it was actually night time at 7.35, wasn’t it? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. did you go by yourself the next morning when you went up to 37 mile post? Answer – I think so. Whether the roadmaster was with me I don’t recollect.

Q. Did you tell anybody about finding those marks up there on the ties? Answer – I don’t know that I did, only that we were satisfied that this arch-bar had caused the trouble, and it was reported that way.

Mr. Browning: Now, I ask that answer be stricken out as not responsive to the question.

The Court: Yes, sir. Q. What he ask you, Capt. O’Neal, was weather you had informed anybody

at all that you had seen these marks? Answer – At the time of the trouble? Q. Yes, sir. Ans. No, sir I don’t know that I did.


By Mr. Keith:

Q. Do you recall whether it rained that night? Answer – Yes, sir, I told you that.

Q. How much did it rain? Answer – I couldn’t tell you, but I know I got as wet as a rat.

Q. Did it rain all night? Answer – I don’t know whether it rained all night, but the best part of the night.

Q. Do you recall whether it rained the next day? Answer 0 No, sir, I do not.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. The men worked out in the rain all night didn’t they? Answer – Yes, sir, we were clearing up the wreck in the rain.
J. T. Hyde, recalled on behalf of the Southern Railway, testified as follows:
Q. You were on the witness stand yesterday? Answer – Day before yesterday.

Q. You stated, I believe, that you are the foreman of the section where this wreck occurred February 23rd, 1915. Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What is that section known as? Answer – Section 9.

Q. And it extends from what point north to what point south? Answer – 36 to 40 mileposts.

Q. Where is 40? Answer – Just south of Nokesville.

Q. How many miles are in the section? Answer – Four miles of double track.

Q. How long have you been section for the Southern? Answer – About 21 years.

Q. How many men did you have working for you on that section of the road? Answer – At the time of accident?

Q. Well, for two years previous to the accident we will say? Answer – From six to eight – six, seven and eight, and so on.

Q. Will you state whether or not there were extra forces that worked on that road in that time also? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. How much extra force was there working on that section within two years previous to the accident? Answer – At different times, of course; they didn’t require us to keep any record; at different times there was quite a bit of work.

Q. The men working under you, what is their business and what is your business? Answer – They are called section laborers, and I am the section foreman.

Q. What do they do? Answer – Put in ties and tamp ties, cut grass and everything that is the way of looking out the section of the railroad.

Q. Do they drive spikes? Answer – They tighten bolts, and, in fact, we have it in charge.

Q. Where were you the day of the accident? Answer – At work between Bristow and the point of the accident dressing up ballast, or rather filling in.

Q. How often did you have occasion to be over the part of the road where the accident took place and half mile south of Bristow? Answer – I was there where the accident took place the day previous to the accident, because I was working just south of the bridge.

Q. How often did you get over the entire section, in the ordinary course of your work? Answer – Once or twice a week. That was not, of course, where we were working. We are confined to one place or another where we were putting in ties.

Q. How far do you live from the point of the accident? Answer – I judge about 600 yards, not taking any measurements.

Q. Isn’t it quite true that any work you do on that section you begin nearly at the north end? I mean when you leave your home you get on that section almost at the north end? Answer – Of my section?

Q. Yes. Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. To go to any part of the rest of the section? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What was the condition of that track at the time of the accident half mile south of Bristow to the point of accident? Answer – Good.

Q. Can you state whether the ties were new or good in that part of the track? Answer – Yes, sir, the ties were good.

Q. What kind of ties were they? Answer – Oak ties.

Q. First class or second class? Answer – The ties appeared as first class oak ties. We don’t use a big percent of second class ties in the main line.

Q. Were those ties all in good condition? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. How about the rails on the track? Answer – Good; the same rail is still there now.

Q. And the ballast is good? Answer – Good.

Q. Was there anything at all wrong with the condition of the track from half mile south of Bristow to the point of accident? Answer – Nothing.

Q. Would you call it a first class standard track?

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