Prince William County Virginia Clerk’s Loose Papers

Mr. Keith: In the station grounds, you say, is the worst of it. Mr. Browning

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Mr. Keith: In the station grounds, you say, is the worst of it.

Mr. Browning: South of the station grounds.

The Court: You said south of the station and in the station grounds? Q. You mean by that in the

limit of the station? Answer – Yes, sir.

Mr. Browning: What was his answer?

The Court: South of and through the limits of the station grounds.

Mr. Keith: Through the station grounds he said.

By Mr. Browning: South of and through the station grounds.

Answer: That is what I said, or what I tried to say.

Q. Will you state in your examination of that track some of the details of the things you found it that were not up to standard. Answer – I found swinging track.

Q. What do you mean by swinging track, so the jury may understand? Answer – You could run your hand under the ties, between the ties and the bed that the rail was holding the ties up. At points where the rail had been bent or gone down enough, you could run your hand between the ties and rail at several places.

Q. Anything else? Answer – We saw some very small cross ties, measuring about three inch space, and such as that.

Mr. Mackey: He said between the ties and face --- Answer – I said between the bed and ties.

Mr. Mackey: He said between the ties and bed and then between the ties and rail. Answer – The

ties and the bed.

Mr. Browning: I want to ask the witness this question after what I brought out about his

qualification. Q. What effect, if you know, would this character of track have upon the equipment of the train passing it – a freight train passing over it? Answer – It would have a shocking effect or a bouncing jumping effect on the train. Q. What would that have a tendency to result in, if you know. Answer – It has a tendency I would say – my experience has been that it has a tendency to break the trucks – the arch-bars or the tie-bars.

The Court: I think he said it would have a tendency to break the trucks or other parts of the cars.


By Mr. Keith:

Q. You spoke of the trucks jumping this way (illustrating); is there any truck or car that will stand the movement you indicated by your hands? I mean to say if the car had jumped the way you illustrated with your hands, wouldn’t it break every par that ran over the track? Answer – This is the way I indicated (indicating).

Q. You did this way (illustrating); if a car went over a track that way, wouldn’t it break every spring in the car? Answer – I might have exaggerated the way I waived my hand.

Q. Will you waive your hand a little bit the way it would actually do? Answer – The way I have seen them do was this way.

Q. Did you ever see a train go over any track that the track did not do that way a little? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Where is the track? Answer – There is lots of it on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, and lots on other railroads I know.

Q. Isn’t it a fact that it is necessary that there should be some little vibration on the track? Answer – So little that it don’t amount to anything.

Q. And if it did not vibrate, wouldn’t it break all the cars to pieces in a little while that ran over it? Answer – No, sir, we have tracks that there is so little vibration in it that standing out on the side it is just as smooth or just like a plank floor – just like a floor would be. There is, of course, some little elasticity to it.

Q. Your tracks are so good you can run any kind of equipment over it, and it would not get hurt; you could run old equipment over it, and it would not get hurt? Answer – No.

Q. It would be perfectly safe to run any kind of arch-bars over your tracks? Answer – No, we have had arch-bars to break.

Q. What was the purpose of your visit there to inspect that track? Answer – I was there on account of the accident, to go over the track and see the condition.

Q. and to appear in court and testify, if necessary? Answer – I didn’t know that there would be a court about it.

Q. Was there anybody with you. Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Who was with you? Answer – The division engineer, Mr. Selden and Mr. V. T. Douglas, supervisor of track.

Q. You only walked over that track once from Nokesville to Bristow, as I understand? Answer – From Nokesville to point of derailment, and then continued on to this station, but I was cut off from seeing Nokesville.

Q. You went over that track only once? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. And you gentlemen, I suppose, were talking and walking and looking at the track? Answer – We were talking about conditions.

Q. Did anybody take down a memorandum of anything wrong with that track – take it down in a note book? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Who took it down? Answer – Mr. Selden took it down, and we wrote a letter about it.

Q. Did you notice all the defects in that track, and where they were located? Answer – About where they were located. I do not recall to the tie now, but we did in the worst places – in several places.

Q. You took all the defects down in this note book? Answer – Took the worst places.

Q. Who did you report to? Answer – Mr. Knapp.

Q. Who is Mr. Knapp? Answer – Superintendent of Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.

Q. Do you know whether any report of that was ever made to Southern Railway? Answer – No, sir I do not.

Q. Do you know whether any complaint was ever filed eith the southern Railway about the condition of the track? Answer – I don’t know whether there was, or not. We saw this force working right up to the conditions there, and supposed that they were going right through.

Q. You saw that force working just south of the bridge? Answer – Working on these conditions.

Q. You said that they had not gotten to Bristow? Answer – No, sir.

Q. You don’t know whether they ever did get to Bristow, do you? Answer – Yes, sir, they got to Bristow.

Q. How do you know? Answer – I have been there since.

Q. But you did not see them get there? Answer – No.

Q. And you mean to tell this jury that you can swear that some force you saw working there worked that truck on to Bristow? Answer – No, I don’t say the same force, but I say work has been done at Bristow since.

Q. Are you willing to swear that they worked south to Bristow? Answer – I am willing to swear that they worked to Bristow and south of it.

Q. You said just now they worked up to Bristow, and you are willing to extend it now? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. When were you over it? Answer – Since March 3rd?

Q. Yes, when was it? Answer – Day before yesterday; well, no, the day before that – Tuesday.

Q. Isn’t it a fact on all well regulated railroads that there is a section of hands on the section all the time? Answer – Sir.

Q. Isn’t it a fact on every well regulated railroad that there is a gang of section hands who don’t have anything else to do but work on that section? Answer – They work on all well regulated railroads.

Q. Is there anything surprising about the fact that they worked on the railroad south of Bristow? Ans– No.

Q. Would not the track have gone to pieces if they had not worked on it? Yes, sir.

Q. You did not take any memorandum of the defects in the track? Answer – I took a copy of the letter written to the superintendent.

Q. But you didn’t write anything down yourself? Answer – I dictated the letter – wait; Mr. Selden took the notes in company with me.

Q. How often did you stop as you went along that track? Answer – Sometimes every ten feet, or every twenty feet, or anywhere, constantly all along.

Q. What time did you get to Nokesville? Answer – I don’t know, but it was the 3rd of March, 1915.

Q. Was time did you get to Bristow? Answer – I don’t know. We quietly walked on over there, and I didn’t watch the time, and we come here just before night walked to this station.

Q. Walked to Manassas, do you mean? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. You walked on to Manassas? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. And you don’t know what time you got to Bristow? Answer – No. I am sure I didn’t look.

Q. How many times did you get down to run your hand under the track, between the track and the ballast? Answer – I don’t know, but three or four times.

Q. Not over three or four times? Answer – No.

Q. The rest of the time you were judging by your eyes? Answer – Looking at the ends of the ties and from side to side.

Q. Now, what part of the tie was not down on the roadbed or the ballast? Answer – The bottom of the ties.

Q. Was it outside of the rail that you could get your hand under it a little? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Outside of the rail? Answer – Oh, yes, sir.

Q. And inside of the rail there was not anything of that sort? Answer – I don’t know. It was pretty well filled up with ballast and I don’t know whether it was, or not. I didn’t try to get my hand in there.

Q. Didn’t that track show it had been newly ballasted, or within a comparatively recent time? Answer – No, sir.

Q. Didn’t all the rails appear to be in reasonable good condition? Answer – Yes, sir, with low joints.

Q. The rails themselves were good? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. You don’t think that the ballasting was good? Answer – The joints were not kept up.

Q. What do you mean by not being kept up? Do you mean not close together? Answer – No, sir, I mean when they got low they were not raised. When the joints got down it was not raised to its level.

Q. How many low joints did you see between Bristow and Nokesville? Answer – Yes. I could not begin to enumerate. If there were only ten I would say there were none pretty near. I wouldn’t consider that anything.

Q. The part of the track half mile south of Bristow, can you tell the jury how many low joints there were? Answer – No. There were low places all along. Sometimes it was every joint, and sometimes every other joint, and occasionally the centers, and I didn’t attempt to count them.

Q. You thought it was one of the worst tracks you had ever seen. Answer – No sir, I didn’t think so.

Q. Did you think it was a good track then? Answer – No, sir, I did not.

q. You can’t tell the jury how many low joints there were between Bristow and half mile south of Bristow? Answer – No, sir, I didn’t count them.

Q. Was that track safe to run a passenger train over at 50 miles an hour? Answer – yes, sir, it was a straight line, and I think it was safe, but it was rough.

Q. It was perfectly safe to run a passenger car at 50 miles an hour? Answer – Itf it was on a curve possibly it would not be.

Q. Did you ever run over that track and notice it was rough? Did you ever ride over it? Answer – No, sir.

Q. You did ride over it when you went back to Richmond? Answer – No, sir, I didn’t ride over it. I went from here to Alexandria, and from there to Richmond.

.Q. Now, you think it would be safe for the C&O Railroad to run its trains over that track at 50 miles an hour? Answer – I say it would be rough track at 50 miles an hour, at that time.

Q. You say it would be rough, but it would be safe? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Would a track that has a tendency to break the arch-bar and other things, that you say you think that track would? Answer – We have had arch-bars to break under that kind of track on our tracks at points where it had gotten choppy.

Q. Where is the best place to ride on a train to detect the rough track? Answer – I don’t know. I really think as good place as I know of is in the toilet room, or in a wash room, or in a Pullman car.

Q. How about at the end of a train, on the last car at the end of the car? Answer – you can tell more about it where I spoke of than on the platform.

Q. How about the engine? Answer – It depends on the riding of the engine. Some engines ride much better than others.

Q. Isn’t that a good place to detect whether a track is rough or not? Answer – Yes, sir, that is a very good place.

Q. Well now, if, as a matter of fact, about twenty odd trains go over that track every day, and some of them were passenger trains, running at a high rate of speed, would not you consider that track reasonably safe and not liable to break an arch-bar, if only one arch-bar was broken in a long period of time?

Mr. Browning: I don’t recall that they have submitted that there has been one arch-bar broken in

a long period of time.

The Court: No

Mr. Browning: If they want to go into it ----

Mr. Mackey: We object to it. There is no evidence to support it.

The Court: I sustain that objection.

By Mr. Keith:

Q. Now, Mr. Meredith, the fact that a great many trains, running at a high rate of speed, go over that track every day, and without any breakage of appliances, so far as there is any evidence before this jury, wouldn’t you consider that, that track was reasonably safe? Answer – I said the track was not a dangerous track.

Q. And not likely to break? Answer – I don’t say it is not likely to break. I say any kind of spring – I didn’t mean to make it big like you were after me awhile ago – I mean that kind of spring does have the effect of breaking up like I saw on that track that day.

Q. Arch-bars break for other reasons, don’t they? In your long experience, did you ever know the holes in a box-bolt, or arch-bar, where it fits at the journal box, to be come worn and break for that reason? Answer – No, I never noticed that.

Q. If the holes in the arch-bar, where the box-bolts went through, if that were worn, wouldn’t it have a tendency to break. Answer – I don’t know whether it would, or not. I have no experience along that line.

Q. Isn’t there a great deal of strain on all the parts of the car – on all the car? Answer – Yes, sir, on tracks such as at Nokesville it is.

Q. Isn’t it true that there is a great deal of strain on all the wheels and appliances on a car loaded heavily with freight and passengers, and one thing another? Answer – Yes, sir, a strain, but nothing like as much as there is on a track like I described. On a smoother track it is not so much strain.

Q. I ask you if you do not admit that, that track was as good as the C&O track? Answer – No, sir.

Q. And you haven’t said so to anybody? Answer – No, sir.

Mr. Browning: If he expects to contradict the witness ---

The Court: I have taken notice of it, he must name the time and place, but he has not reached that


Mr. Keith: Q. If you had considered that a dangerous track, it would have been your duty, or the

duty of someone your superior, to complain to the Southern Railway about it, wouldn’t it?

Mr. Browning: We object.

By Mr. Keith:

Q. Would it have been your duty to make any complaint about it to the Southern Railway? Answer – I would have done so. As I stated awhile ago, I didn’t consider it was a dangerous track, but it was choppy and rough track, and I saw a force working right from the bridge towards this point, and figured that if they worked like we do on our line that they would work right through.

Q. Would it have a tendency to break passenger trucks as well as freight trucks – choppy tracks? Answer – We have not had passenger trucks to break like freight trucks.

Q. Well, would it, or not? Answer – A think it would not. I think passenger trucks, as a rule, are not as heavy as freight trucks.

Q. Did you know the arch-bar of a passenger truck to break? Answer – Right now I can’t say that I did.

Q. Did you ever know the arch-bar o a freight truck to break? Answer – A great many.

Q. On your road? Answer – On our road, yes, sir.

Q. And You think the motion caused the breakage on the rough track? Answer – It is largely the cause.

Q. And you admit that you have a rough track of your own? Answer – At places. We haven’t had a great number of arch-bars to break for a great number of years, but we have had them to break.
At 4:40 an adjournment was taken until Monday morning June 12, 1916, at ten o’clock
Morning Session

June 12, 1916

The Court met pursuant to adjournment Saturday.

Present: Same parties as heretofore
J. F. Briant another witness called on behalf of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company, being duly sworn, testified as follows:

By Mr. Browning:

Q. Mr. Briant, by whom are you employed? Answer – By the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.

Q. What is your position? I am assistant superintendent of the Richmond Division.

Q. How long have you been employed by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company? Answer – It will be thirty years in August.

Q. what are the different positions you have held with the company. Answer – I have been telegraph operator, station agent, conductor in work train service, train dispatcher, chief dispatcher and assistant superintendent.

Q. How long has been your service in each of these capacities? Answer – This, of course, is approximately: Nine years as telegraph operator and station agent; three years as conductor; eleven years as train dispatcher, and about four years as chief dispatcher; three last February as assistant superintendent.

Q. What are your duties as assistant superintendent? Answer – I assist the superintendent in exercising general supervision over the Richmond division. That is, its operation and the various departments in connection with the operation of the entire division – mechanical, maintenance and its traffic department, so far as relates to the division itself.

Q. Mr. Briant, did you have occasion to visit the scene of the accident near Bristow, which accident occurred on the evening of February 23rd 1915? Answer – Yes, sir, I accompanied the Richmond tool-cars.

Q. You came up from Richmond? Answer – I accompanied the Richmond tool-cars from Richmond to Bristow.

Q. By which route did you come? Answer – We came from Richmond to Gordonsville, and from Gordonsville to Orange.

Q. Were you joined at Gordonsville by any one? Answer – Yes, sir; two of the Southern officers I know got on at Gordonsville, and I think there was another, but I am not certain about it.

Q. Who were those officers? Answer – Superintendent Hudson and Trainmaster Button.

Q. Now, Mr. Briant, about what time did you arrive at the scene of accident? Answer – Shortly after three o’clock in the morning of the 24th I don’t recall the exact minute.

Q. Will you please tell the court and jury what you did, and what you saw upon your arrival at the scene of the accident? I will first withdraw that question for a moment. Was there any one in company with you from Richmond on the tool-car? Answer – Yes, sir, we had our regular tool-car force, consisting of the tool-car foreman and his men.

Q. What is the tool-car foreman’s name? Answer – H. A. Brightwell, Mr. M. Flanagan, master mechanic of the Richmond division, and H. M. Eddins, assistant trainmaster of the Richmond division.

Q. Now, will you please tell the court and jury what you did there, and what you saw there? Answer – On our arrival at Bristow we found both main tracks obstructed by the derailment which had occurred the previous evening, the 23rd . It was raining pretty heavy at the time. Mr. Eddins and myself offered our services to Superintendent Hudson, and Mr. Hudson told us that they were getting along all right, and that if he needed our services he would call on us. After looking over the situation I went back in the tool-car. As I say, it was raining very heavily at the time. Neither Mr. Eddins nor myself were called upon for any personal assistance. In our own way we did what we could to help clear the tracks.

Q. Now, Mr. Briant, will state, if you please, what you saw with reference to the truck of C&O car 15227, which was a part of the C&O freight train 592? Answer – I do not recall at just what time it was, but it was before daylight, however, I began to make an investigation as to the cause of the accident, which it was my duty to do. In company with master mechanic Flanagan, we went north to where this car was standing, and it was raining very hard at the time. We had a lantern of a kind known as an inspector’s lantern; it has a strong reflector behind it, and gives a very good light. We examined the truck of that car. My recollection is that the rear wheels of the south truck were off the track. The journal box was out from under the arch-bar. The box-bolt and journal-boxes were broken off, and the tie-bar of this truck was broken at the bolt hole of the column-bolt and the south end of this tie-bar completely missing.

Q. Mr. Briant, did you look at the part of the tie-bar that yet remained on the track? Answer – At that particular time the conditions were not favorable to make a very close examination. I did so later, however.

Q. What was the result of your looking at or examination of that part of the tie-bar? Answer – After daylight Mr. Flanagan and myself again went to this car to make a more thorough examination, and with reference to this tie-bar that you asked about, my first observation was confirmed by the second; that is, the tie –bar was broken immediately through the bolt hole. I got down on my knees as the truck was very low on the track, where I could look at the fractured end of this tie-bar. The metal of that tie-bar showed a perfect clean break. So far as it was possible for me to determine by a very close examination, I could see no evidence of there having been any previous crack. The metal showed a clear break and no previous fracture.

Q. What did the clear, clean break indicate as to the time it broke? Answer – That it must have occurred immediately at the time of the accident, or just previous thereto. When I say “just previous thereto” I mean within an hour or so, because under the weather conditions oxidation would have set up in a very short space of time – I mean rust.

Q. Mr. Briant, did you examine the tracks of the Southern Railroad from the point of accident to a distance of half mile south of Bristow Station? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. About what time did you make this examination? Answer – Immideately following the examination I made of the truck and the tie-bar that I have just described.

Q. Why did you make this examination of the tracks? Answer – In every effort to follow effects back to cause.

Q. Is it your opinion that you followed effects back to cause? Answer – It is.

Q. Why? Answer – Because I found conditions that, in my judgment, produced the effect of that I found.

Q. What were those conditions? Answer – Imperfect track conditions.

Q. Consisting of what? Answer – For the distance of I should say beginning at a point immediately in front of Bristow Station, where we found the first mark of trouble, and proceeding west I found the track conditions ------

Mr. Mackey: Proceeding south he means. Answer – Yes, sir, I should say south instead of west. I

found numerous what we call sloppy joints – the track bumping at a joint. That caused an uneven surface on the track, an it causes a high center opposite a joint in the opposite rail. There were a number of such joints as that in the close vicinity of Bristow, and for a distance of half a mile south.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. Mr. Briant, what is the effect upon a loaded freight car of such a condition of the tracks, the said car passing over the tracks? Answer – The effect of a track of that kind would be to place extensive strain on the trucks or running gear of a car, due to the vibrations set up by that condition of track. The vibration is generally in an up and down motion, having an effect on the springs, arch-bars, tie-braces, such as would be produced by a blow, a very heavy strain.

Q. Mr. Briant, were you in company with any one when you made this examination of the trucks? Answer – Master mechanic Flanagan.

Q. Were you in company with any one when you made the examination of the remaining part of the tie-bar still on the truck of car 25227? Answer – On the first occasion when an examination was made before daylight Mr. Eddins was in company with Mr. Flanagan and myself.

Q. Who is Mr. Eddins? Answer – Train master.

Q. Of what? Answer – C & O Railroad. On the second occasion I examined this tie-bar remaining on the truck, no one was present, as I recall, except Mr. Flanagan, master mechanic of the C& O.

Q. Mr. Briant, in your several capacities of employment with the Vhesapeake & Ohio Railway Company, have you had occasion to have knowledge of the inspection that is used by ordinary standard railroads? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Will you tell the court and jury what that is? Answer – We have specially employed men who make inspection of all of our equipment, both passenger and freight. These men are usually picked for these positions on account of their experience and their ability along that line. The method under which these inspections are made is about as follows: A train of cars arrives at a freight terminal – I mean a yard.

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