Prince William County Virginia Clerk’s Loose Papers

Mr. Hall: No, sir, not the column-bolt nut. It was the nut lock, the kittle thin piece is what he said that he found. The Court

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Mr. Hall: No, sir, not the column-bolt nut. It was the nut lock, the kittle thin piece is what he said

that he found.

The Court: I think he said that he had never seen this until it was produced in court; is that right,

Mr. Puckett?

Mr. Puckett: Yes, sir.

Mr. Browning: I will have the stenographer strike out that question.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. Did you find anything else near the column-bolt nut? Answer – The nut and nut lock were right together. We found them at the time Mr. Brightwell and I made the first trip south of the wreck together that morning after daylight.

Q. Was there any one with you except Mr. Brightwell when you found the nut lock? Answer – No, sir, no one else. Mr. Brightwell and I were alone.

Q. Then what did you do? Answer – We then went further south to examine the conditions and see what else we could find, and if there were any further marks on the ties indicating anything dragging, and we were unable to find it. I think I will say positively we scrutinized every inch of the track, and I did so for the second time, and we were unable to find any marks south of this frog. There was the board crossing apparently for running express or depot trucks across, right at the station, but there was not any marks on that. The next instance, the track was pretty well filled in with ballast, as I recall, along there, and we were unable to find any marks along there. As I continued then further south, and I suppose we went along the track possibly a mile or a mile and a quarter, and we were not able to find any marks there, so we didn’t make any further examination southward.

Q. Now, Mr. Flanagan, here is a model of a truck that has been introduced as showing the truck of the derailed car in its situation the morning after the accident. I will ask you to examine that model, and if you see any inaccuracies in it, so state, and state what? Answer – Of course this is not an exact counterpart, is not the shape of the trucks that were damaged, but I think the model will serve to give an idea of just how the failure occurred.

Q. State whether or not the portion of the arch-bar that is on that model is correctly delineated? Answer – No, that does not represent exactly the shape of the arch-bar. This top-bar was nearer on a straight line. In other words, it was bent up further. The top arch-bar was bent up further.

Q. At which end? Answer – At the damaged end.

Q. Look at the tie-bar, and see whether it is delineated on this model as being broken in the place in which the one on the derailed truck was broken? Answer – It is not. This would indicate, I think, to any one that it was broken beyond the column-bolt hole, as a matter of fact, the break occurred right through the center of the hole, which was naturally the weakest point, and where it did fall. The instance, permit me to call attention to the fact that this shows the tie-bar worn out, and abrupt edge of an angle of 15 degrees. This tie-bar was not broken on this side of the hole, but, as a matter of fact, was broken right through the center of the hole, which was naturally the weakest point. The next instance, the model indicates that the tie-bar had either been worked off, machined off, or worn off to a very thin edge, while, as a matter of fact, it was not worn but very slightly scared on practically a flat surface here, and the end prevented the break just as it occurred, which was bright metal, indicating that the break had just occurred, and had not had time to corrode, as I made an inspection that night.

Q. Now, Mr. Flanagan, with that exception, that portion of the tie-bar was somewhat as indicated in that model? Answer – Yes, sir; with that exception I think the model represents, with reasonable intelligence, the conditions.

Q. What portion of the hole in the tie-bar, the column-bolt hole, was left on that piece of the tie-bar? Answer – Just about half of it.

Q. do you know anything about the other piece of that tie - bar? Answer – Yes, sir, the other piece of that tie-bar was found when Mr. Brightwell and I returned from Bristow in our first inspection trip, when we found the column-bolt nut at Bristow. This column-bolt was found slightly over the bank just north of the bridge, very near where I found the first nut from one of the column-bolts. That piece of tie-bar was bent in a slightly U shape.

Mr. Mackey: The tie-bar would be the best evidence, if it is here.

Mr. Browning: As a matter of fact, we haven’t it.

Witness: The tie-bar, on account of the point striking the ties, as previously explained, was in a

kind of U shape.

Q. It had bent backwards? Answer – Yes, sir.
At one o’clock a recess was taken for lunch until two o’clock.

June 10th, 1916

The court met at the expiration of the recess.

Present: Same parties as heretofore.

M. Flanagan a witness for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company, takes the stand and further testifies as follows:

By Mr. Browning:

Q. Mr. Flanagan, you were showing us just previous to the adjournment for dinner the position into which that tie-bar had been bent; what became of the piece of tie-bar that was detached from the truck? Answer – That detached piece of tie-bar, and in fact, the entire portion of the truck was held at the Richmond shops for quite a number of months, and we finally dissected it and scrapped it. It was my understanding in doing so that the matter had been adjusted, and that it would not be needed for any use in the future, and I had it dismantled and scrapped at the Richmond shops.

Q. Did anyone else besides yourself see that piece of the tie-bar? If so who? Answer – Yes, sir, Mr. Brightwell, my tool-car foreman, was with me when we found it, and I think I can say that I consider also assistant superintendent Briant looked at it also.

Q. Did Mr. Dunn? Answer – I am not sure whether Mr. Dunn saw that.

Q. You told us you walked back up that track as far as the frog and that switch and beyond; did you pursue your investigation any further than that southward up the track? Answer – Yes, sir, I walked back southward about a mile, or possibly a mile and a quarter – south of the Bristow Station.

Q. For what purpose? Answer – I was looking to see if I could see any evidence of any part of the truck striking on the ties at any point along the right of way.

Q. Did you make any examination of the track itself? Answer – Yes, sir, I also took an examination of the track, and in coming back we kneeled down at different places and commented on the irregularity in the surface and alignment of the track.

Q. What was the condition of that Southern Railway northbound or eastern track from Bristow Station to a point half mile south of Bristow Station? Answer – Right along in the station grounds the track was in worse condition than at any point south of there, so far as I went. The joints were low. Some of them (I did not have a level) but some of them I measured were as much as three-quarters of an inch, and ties there and south of there were loose and swinging. In other words, the ballast was not tamped underneath them, and you could get your fingers under some of them. I looked over those with our tool-car foreman and also took the assistant superintendent up later and showed him these conditions.

Q. The tool-car foreman is Mr. Brightwell? Answer – Mr Brightwell, and later took our assistant superintendent, Mr. Briant, and called his attention to these loose ties and the alignment.

Q. How would you describe that track with reference whether or not it was up to standard? Answer – I will say that the track along by the station was particularly bad and that for three-quarters of a mile or such a matter.

Q. Confine yourself to half a mile south of Bristow. Answer – For half a mile it was not as bad as that immediately at the station, but it was not good. The joints were low at places, and in several places we noticed the rails were low in the center, as well as the joints being low.

Q. What would be the effect of – I will ask you first what do railroad men call that condition of track? Answer – On our road we generally refer to it as choppy – a choppy condition.

Q. What is the effect of that condition of track upon a freight train passing over it? Answer – The effect of the condition of a train of that kind upon any train or equipment would be to give a vertical shock, which would be equivalent to temporarily making an excessive load on the wheels or trucks carrying that particular piece of equipment as it passed that point.

Q. Will you explain to the jury what you mean by a vertical shock? Answer – I mean this, that a wheel rolling on a level track would reach a low point, which would be just as riding in an automobile or buggy on a rough road. When you came to a depression, your wheel would naturally go into that depression, and it would give the main body of the car a downward movement, and when you passed it, it would give it a downward movement which would meet the main movement of the car, which would make the load excessive to what it would be when compared with what it would be on a level track.

Q. You then made a thorough examination of the track, the conditions surrounding the accident, and the track south of the point of the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. In order to determine the cause of the accident? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What conclusion did you reach, Mr. Flanagan, as to the cause of the accident? I will ask you to explain your conclusions, whatever they were, to the jury? Answer – My conclusions were, looking over all surrounding conditions, that the tie-bar, as previously mentioned, was the first part of the mechanical equipment to give trouble or to fail.

Q. Now, just right there, did you reach a conclusion as to what caused the tie-bar to fail? Answer – I am of the opinion that it failed on account of running over rough track, and putting these excessive shocks on it at intervals, just as mentioned a few moments ago.

Q. Now, explain to the jury, if you please, how that brought about the wreck. You may use this model, if you desire. Answer – My conclusion in the matter, gentlemen, was that this tie-bar, which, in its original construction, extended from here, just as this piece does here, failed right through the center of the hole. The trucks were moving in this direction (indicating). After that tie-bar had failed, there was nothing to hold the two boxes, or the one at this end, in a vertical position like this. This is the box in which the journal bearing is carried. After failing, these bars carrying the load began to spring in an upward direction. As they sprung in an upward direction this tie-bar which, at that time, was in this position 9indicating) gradually became closer and closer down to the ties until it had gotten to a point where it would strike the ties. However, it is plainly evident that this final failure and coming down very low did not take place until just before reaching frog of the switch just north of Bristow Station, because there were no indications on the ties or platform which was flush with the surface of the rail. Just as this truck was passing over the frog at the switch at Bristow Station, this had come down low enough so that the nut here, struck right in the prong---

Q. Designate what nut that is? Answer – This column-bolt nut struck right in the prong or heel of the switch at that point, and knocked it off, where it was subsequently found by myself and our two car foreman. From that point on down towards – to the point where the derailment occurred, we could see the marks on the ties distinctly practically or just the width of this damaged tie-bar which had failed, which had broken through the hole and was dragging down and swinging of the ties. That followed, as I say, nearly down to the derailment, and 75 feet from the derailment I found the knot from the bolt which goes through this hole holding down the bar, showing that tie-bar was in place, and had not been lost up to that time.

By Mr. Ball:

Q. Do you mean tie-bar? Answer – I mean tie-bar; showing that piece of the tie-bar was in place up to that time.

Q. You have your finger on the arch-bar? Answer – I know, but I will explain that, that is connected here. The tie – bar was in place up to that time. About 75 feet from the switch where the derailment occurred I found this nut, as previously stated, and just over the bank at the same point I found this damaged piece of tie-bar, showing that it was carried to that point, that the bolt was broken at that point at the bottom, leaving the nut there where I found it. It went about 75 feet further, and went into the frog of the switch at that point, and on account of the truck being srung so badly after the bolts had failed, this section here, or the bottom tie-bar and arch-bar wedged right in the prong of the switch, of frog, and broke that frog to pieces and dislocated it. Immediately beyond that the rails were torn up, and turned over. I was never able to locate the upper ends of these bolts here – the box-bolts – but the Southern Railway Superintendent, Mr. Hudson, told me, when I made inquiry of him, that they had then, and, as I stated awhile ago, he stated Mr. Puckett would show me where they were. Mr. Puckett was not able to show them to me. They had been misplaced in some way, but I know not how.

Mr. Browning: Q. Did Mr. Puckett show you where he found the top piece of the box-bolt?

Answer – Mr. Hudson was standing very near the damaged frog at the switch to the pump house, and he told me that they found them about here, and told me that Mr. Puckett had them. Q. Now, which nut, Mr. Flanagan, was found further south? Answer – The nut which was knocked off of the column-bolt. Q. The column-bolt nut? Answer – Yes, sir. Q. At the frog? Answer – Yes, sir, just north of Bristow Station. Q. Which nut or portion of bolt was found next going north? Answer – The nut and small portion of the bolt from one of the box-bolts. Q. And where was the point with reference to that on which the top part of the box-bolt was found? Answer – I suppose from what Mr. Hudson said ---

Mr. Hall: Exclude what Mr. Hudson said.

Witness: Then, I don’t know. I never saw them.

Mr. Browning: You never saw them? Answer – No, sir. Q. Mr. Hudson told you where they were

found, as I understood you to say? Answer – Yes, sir. Q. I will the question at what point did Mr. Hudson point out to you where they were found?

The Court: Is Mr. Hudson the superintendent of the road?

Mr. Browning: Of the Southern road. Q. I will ask this question, and state that I expect to follow

if up by proving Mr. Hudson is Division Superintendent of the Southern Railway.

Mr. Hall: I think that this gentleman ought to say, if he knows, where the bolts were found, but

what Mr. Hudson told him about where they were found has not anything to do with binding the Southern Railway. It is hearsay.

The Court: It is the same bolt Mr. Puckett said he found, and he described where he found it.

Mr. Hall: No, sir, we haven’t any, because they were misplaced.

The Court: Mr. Puckett testified where he found them, and this gentleman is telling where Mr.

Hudson said Mr. Puckett found them. Mr. Hudson don’t know himself, because it would be hearsay, but I thought it immaterial because the evidence is before the jury, and it is the same place Mr. Puckett said that he found them, and I don’t suppose there is any dispute about it.

Mr. Browning: No, sir.

The Court: What Mr. Puckett said would not be evidence because his information was hearsay,

but I believe in this case that if is immaterial, as the proof is already before the jury. It is at the same place?

Mr. Browning: Yes, sir, it is the same place. Q. I think Mr. Puckett stated that he went with you

to a point where he had laid the top of this box-bolt, which point was a few feet from where he found it; did Mr. Puckett go ----

Mr. Keith: I don’t think Mr. Puckett said he put them there.

Mr. Browning: He said that he laid them on the end of the rail.

Court: He said he laid them there, and some one had picked them up.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. Did Mr. Puckett go to that point with you for the purpose picking up the top of the box-bolt? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Where was that point with reference to the point that you found the bottom of the box-bolt? Answer – I judge it is approximately 120 feet further north, and he stated that it had been placed over on the other side of the southbound main line. The damage was on the northbound main line.

Q. I am locating the point on the track. Mr. Flanagan, if this accident had been occasioned by the shearing or breaking of the box-bolts before the tie-bar broke, in what order would the nuts have become detached from that truck? Do you understand my question? Answer – No, sir.

Q. (The question is read) Answer – Most likely if the box-bolts had failed, as it was stated to me on that occasion by Mr. Hudson and Mr. Puckett they did, those bolts would have dropped down after the heads were sheared off. The point of the bolts would have struck the ties or the frog and stock rail while passing over same, and would have bent them, but, instead of that, the nut which we have here shows a break close to the nut – a break in the bolt close to the nut, and there is also on the face of that nut which is next to the tie-bar an impression showing plainly that the tie-bar acted as a lever at that point, and showing further that the nut was tight and substantially up against this tie-bar. If any of the gentlemen wish to see this, I think they can see it now.

Q. Will you show it to the jury now? Answer – This is the small nut referred to. Gentlemen, what I have reference to is there. On this edge of the nut, as you see, it is beveled down, indicating that the bar which was clamped to it by the bottom bar, as it sprung down on the rail it acted as a lever, mashing it and making it thin and beveling it at that point. I think you can see it without very closely scrutinizing it. You can also see that the nut broke close to this tie-bar, and if it had broken close it would have bent back instead of breaking off close to the nut.

Q. The column-bolt nut that I hand you shows a burn on this side; what, in your opinion caused that burn? Answer – That burn, in my opinion, was caused by this nut coming in contact with the inside rail of the switch track which runs off at Bristow. The center of this bolt would be approximately six inches out from the rail o which this truck was running, and as it came near the prong the nut would drag against the switch track before it would strike on this side, and with the pressure against it, it made that blue abrasion at that point. The pressure and friction of a wheel made that condition.

Mr. Mackey: Are those nuts in evidence yet?

Mr. Browning: I think so.

Mr. Hall: We did not introduce them.

Mr. Mackey: If they are in evidence I would like to have the jury look at them.

Mr. Browning: I don’t know that they are formally in evidence, but the Southern Railway used

them in questioning their witnesses, virtually putting them in evidence.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. Has this bruise that I point out on this nut any significance in your opinion? Answer – Yes, sir, that nut – this represents the front surface of the nut as the train was moving, and that is the point at which this nut was struck by the heel of the switch, where the nut was broken off and left.

Q. The switch of frog? Answer – The frog I should say – at the heel of the frog.

Q. Do you mean the frog in which it was found? Answer – Yes, sir, the frog in which it was found.

Q. Now, Mr. Flanagan, if the accident happened in the manner that you have stated, in what order going north would those three pieces (that is the column-bolt nut, the lower end of the box-bolt nut and the top end of the box-bolt) be found naturally? Answer – They would have been found as follows: The column-bolt first; the box-bolt nut second, and the piece of bolts which sheared off third, which is stated by Mr. Hudson was sheared off. I didn’t see them.

Mr. Browning: If these pieces of iron are not already in evidence, we offer them. We thought that

they were already in evidence.

Mr. Keith: I wish it distinctly understood that we do not admit that these are the same nuts that

were found on the ground that day, if they were found.

Mr. Browning: Mr. Flanagan, you said that you picked up these two pieces of iron that have been

offered in evidence, described as column-nut and bolt-nut, now before you; where have those two pieces of iron been ever since the wreck?

The Court: You have been over that; he said they were in his possession until they were brought

here. Didn’t you say that? Answer – Yes, sir, in my private office.

The Court: By way of identification, he testified as to the large one, how it fits on.

Mr. Browning: We introduced those bolts to him.

Mr. Mackey: We have no objection, if your Honor please. Do we understand that they are in

evidence now?

By Mr. Browning:

Q. Mr. Flanagan, a statement has been made by Mr. Puckett with reference to a conversation had at or near the scene of this wreck between you and him; will you state what that conversation was, If you had a conversation with him? Answer – Mr. Puckett and I talked a considerable amount during the course of the day. When I took him with me to this car to look at the broken tie-bar, I told him that it was all new break, and I thought it was the first part that had failed on the truck, and asked him to look at it, and he had to kneel down to look at it, and it was daylight then, and we both did so, and we both agreed that it was a new break all the way across. We talked about the accident a little bit later, and after getting the information from Mr. Hudson about the journal box-bolts being sheared off, and having talked to Mr. Puckett about them, they both stated so positively how they had found them and the conditions, that I said “Mr. Puckett, I am quite sure that accident happened first by the tie-bar failing, allowing the truck to spring until the column-bolt nut was low enough to hang in the prong or heel of the frog and knock it off, after which the arch-bars continued to spring until the central portion of the truck was down still lower, and the tie-bar, or the short piece of the tie-bar, then striking the ties, resulting in later on breaking the column-bolt nut off, and assuming that the statement which they made was correct, then shearing the box-bolt off near the top end.” I didn’t see the box-bolts, and if I had seen them, the conclusion would have been possible and definite, without the question of a doubt, and I believe the statement that they made about them being there was correct.

Q. State whether or not Mr. Puckett agreed or dissented from your conclusions at that time? Answer – He offered no dissention, and it was my understanding that we concurred.

Q. What do you mean by the tie-bar failing? What do you mean by the word “failing”? Answer – Breaking as it did through that column-bolt hole.

Q. Did you see or have occasion to examine the holes in that end of the arch-bar? Answer – Yes, sir, I looked at the trucks; I looked at them while we were looking at the break in the tie-bar the first time.

Q. What was their condition? Answer – Those arch-bars had what we would term little fins or projections, indicating that there had been a strain, and a very high strain, or a very heavy strain, I should have said, upon these arch-bars, which I concluded at the time (I think all did) that it was brought about by the shearing action as these arch-bars sprung after the tie-bar had failed, and leaving them to gradually spring up.

Q. What result, if any would the shearing of those box -bolts by the arch-bar have upon the arch-bar holes? Answer – It would have had the effect of slightly distorting or elongating those holes, and slightly rounding the edges, and leaving them a little thin, as I explained just now.

Q. State whether or not those holes were elongated, and, if so, to what extent? Answer – They were slightly elongated, but I think that they were not round more than one-thirty-second of an inch, and certainly not as much as one-fifteenth.

Q. What effect would that amount of elongation, 1/15 or 1/32 of an inch, have, if any, upon the box-bolts, even if it had been there before the shearing? Answer – It would have had no evil effect.

Q. Why? Answer – Because the diamond, or arch-bar, built up tight to the truck, as this one was, is built up of parts which are flexible. The holes in the new trucks are not drilled to the accurate size of the bolts, but are driven larger so the bolts slip in easily, and as soon as the weight of the car, or whatever the equipment is, comes on a truck to that kind, the strain or the bearing of the bolt comes to the inside of the holes of the top bar, which is in compression, and the outside holes of the bottom bar, which is in tension and a truck would be adjusted to these conditions immediately when it took the load.

Q. Mr. Flanagan, those arch-bars are, up and down through that hole, how thick? Answer – On that type of truck the top bars are one and a quarter inches thick and five inches wide, and the bottom one and a half thick and five inches wide.

Q. Then the box-bolt hole is one and a quarter inches through? Answer – One and 5/16

Q. State whether or not that hole can be measured by an ordinary carpenter’s rule except at the surface? Answer – It could not be accurately measured except at the surface on a truck with an arch-bar sprung.

Q. Could it be measured at all except at the surface with the ordinary carpenter’s rule? Answer – No, sir, it could not.

Q. Is there an instrument for measuring these holes? Answer – Yes, sir, we have what we call in our business calipers for taking measurements of that kind.

Q. Could a measurement at the surface alone determine whether a slight elongation had been made by wear or by shearing? Answer I do not think that the measurement would determine that, but observation or an inspection of the bar would indicate to you whether it was elongated from wear or from strain.

Q. How long would it take, Mr. Flanagan, to wear an elongation of 1/8 of an inch in those holes under ordinary usage? Answer – With the nuts as tight as that one shows it was, it would never wear 1/8 of an inch.


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