A most lamentable accident occurred on the New York Central Railroad on the 11th inst., near Utica, by which nine persons lost their lives, and a much greater number were severely wounded. Two trains—one going East and the other West—happened to come upon a "mall bridge over the Sauquoit Creek at the same time, when, just as the locomotives reached opposite sides, the structure fell with a crash, and the cars were dashed to fragments. This accident seems to have been caused by the most culpable ignorance or carelessness on the part of those whose duty it was to attend to the bridgedepartment of that railroad. On the 15th inst., the Coroner's jury rendered the following unanimous verdict in this case:— "We find that the persons whose bodies have been viewed by us came to their death hy the giving way of the bridge of the New York Central Railroad, crossing the Sauquoit Creek, in the town of Whitqstown, Oneida county, on the morning of the 11th of May, and that they were all passengers by the Cincinnati express train coming East. The deaths were caused by the insecurity of the bridge, owing to the same being decayed and rotten. A portion of the bridge was constructed of inferior timber, the same being bastard elm. We find the deaths were caused by culpable neglect on the part of the Central Railroad Company, in not causing this bridge to be properly examined." From the evidence given before the jury, it would appear that the bridge was bullt about three years ago, and composed principally of bastard elm, which generally rots in about two or three years at furthest when exposed to the weather. How cent-wise and dollar-foolish some of our railroads are managed? If that bridge had been built of good oak timber, it would have been sound yet, and the Company would not have been called upon to pay the enormous sumswhichwill be justly demanded for the lives taken and the injuries received by this accident. It appears to us that most of our railroads are managed with the most open stupidity as it regards the kind and quality of timber used for bridges, ties, c. These cost vast sums annually for repairs and replacement, on account of their liability to rot, whereas they could be rendered three times more durable, and thus save a vast expenditure for fresh timbers, and the labor required in building and relaying them. We have frequently directed the attention of our railroad companies to the economic results which would accrue to them were they to use "prepared timbers," but they seem to be deaf to disinterested and unselfish admonition. Had tha bridge over the Sauquoit Creek been constructed of "prepared timber," although it had been bastard elm, the fatal accident alluded to would not have taken place, and the bridge w(mld have been good for ten years to come yet, and all by a very little extra expense. In Europe preserved timbers are employed on all the railroads. The expense for railroad repairs in Great Britain is about 10 per cent annually, while with us it is on an average 25 per cent—our railroads require to be entirely relaid every four years. Timber impregnated, under pressure, with a weak solution of sulphate of copper, chloride of zinc, or bi-chloride of mercury, will have its life extended from four to twelve years. Creosote, or oil of coal tar, is also a very good timber preserving agent, and is now 'emt,loyed in Holland for this pnrpose with decided success. Some years since, a number of our railroad companies made trials with timbers prepared with the chloride of zinc, and the results were decidedly favdrable and profitable regarding iheir use. But new short-lived boards of managers are not the best bodies to direct a profitable policy, hence, because each sleeper cost ten cents extra for preparation, their use was discontinued, although the process increased their durability from four to twelve years. We hope all our railroad managers will " amenn their ways," by adopting the suggestions presented. We have repeatedly directed their attention to this subject, and will do so again upon every proper occasion until a decided reform is effected.
This article was originally published with the title "Railway Bridges and Timbers"