4/19/40 - LITTLE FALLS, NY

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4/19/40 - LITTLE FALLS, NY

Postby shlustig » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:43 pm

Located on the Mohawk division between Schnectady and Utica. 4 track mainline with ABS and ATS in effect.

This is the anniversary date of the wreck of Train #19 "Lake Shore Limited" with Eng. 5315 and 15 cars (2 head end, 3 coaches 1 diner, 9 sleepers) at Gulf Curve which had a 45 mph speed limit. Gulf Curve was protected by 2 approach signals which required the engineer to forestall the ATS penalty brake application as well as a sign. Speed at the time of the derailment was 59 mph.

Engr. and Fireman were killed along with 29 passengers and employees, and 51 passengers and employees were injured.

ICC Report blamed the wreck on the sudden closing of the throttle which created a water surge in the tender causing the tender and the 5315 to derail at the sharpest point of the 8-degree curve.

The NYC subsequently relocated the mainline by changing the course of the Mohawk River and eliminating the old curve.
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Re: 4/19/40 - LITTLE FALLS, NY

Postby Roger Hensley » Fri Apr 20, 2018 5:25 am

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Re: 4/19/40 - LITTLE FALLS, NY

Postby NYCRRson » Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:52 pm

Supposedly some of the firebox grates and parts of the rear engine truck where blown across the Mohawk River (water seen in photograph) and were found on the South side of the river.

The boiler was punctured by the rocks along the outside of the curve and a steam explosion blew out through the grates which were pointed south account of the engine being on it's side.

"The NYC subsequently relocated the mainline by changing the course of the Mohawk River and eliminating the old curve."

Well, IIRC it took until the late 50's or early 60's to get the tracks relocated, they needed permission from NY State to fill in part of the river.

And I also believe this loco (5315) was the only NYCRR Hudson that was a total loss. All the others were repaired after grade crossings collisions, boiler explosions. etc.

There was a Road Foreman of Engines riding in the cab, speculation is he questioned the engineers speed and the engineer closed the throttle abruptly causing the tender and train to "run into" the slowing engine and pushing the rear of the engine over the top of the rails. Calculations showed that the train would have made it around the curve if the engineer did nothing. Road Foreman survived and worked up until PC (I believe).

Passengers in the rear sleepers did not even wake up (wreck happened around midnight ?) until the next morning.
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Re: 4/19/40 - LITTLE FALLS, NY

Postby shlustig » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:16 pm

The Gulf Curve realignment was completed in early 1948 and reduced the curvature to about 1'30" allowing for higher track speed.

As far as the cause of the wreck goes, many former NYC employees on the Mohawk Division felt that the RFE caused the wreck by panicking and shutting the throttle in spite of the engineer's running the train. Jesse Earl was reputed to be one of the best of the Mohawk Division enginemen while the RFE was an unknown quantity at that time. The engineer had forestalled the penalty application at the distant and approach signals and had made a brake application prior to entering the curve. Had the throttle not been closed, the train would have successfully negotiated the curve, albeit at a speed somewhat greater than the posted 45mph limit but much less than overturning speed.
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Re: 4/19/40 - LITTLE FALLS, NY

Postby NYCRRson » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:22 pm

Thanks for clarifying when the realignment of Gulf Curve happened. I thought I recalled a color photo from the 60's showing a new alignment around that area ? Maybe they realigned that curve twice ?

Yes indeed it always seemed hard to believe that an experienced loco engineer would forget that curve and do the worst possible thing when already in the curve (close the throttle). But the engineer did not get to testify at the investigation did he ??

And if I remember correctly the engine jumped the rails so cleanly that one or two of the head end cars (baggage) stayed on the rails and went right past the loco and stopped out in front of the final resting spot for the loco ?
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