I love history, more so if it involves historic photographs. I recently acquired a “Red Border” Kodachrome slide for my collection taken between 1950 and 1955 of the Mt. Washington Cog Railway in Bretton Woods, NH. I did a little research and discovered something I had never known. This particular locomotive was involved in a fatal accident in September 1967 in which 8 people were killed and 74 injured. I’ve taken this trip several times in my 44 years on this earth and each trip was amazing. However I’d be lying if I told you the thought of something going wrong never crossed my mind.
Here is an account of what happened that fateful September day in 1967.
Mt. Washington, N.H. (AP) — A mountain-climbing
rail excursion car jammed with Sunday sightseers
lost its engine while backing down the historic cog track on 6,288-foot Mt. Washington and leaped into a gorge, killing eight persons and injuring at least 74.
Gov. John W. King, who rushed to the scene, ordered an immediate investigation by state Public Utilities Commission officials. The 98-year-old railroad, a popular tourist attraction on this scenic centerpiece in the White Mountain Presidential range, spans 3 1/2 miles – 3 miles on trestle.
State Police identified the victims as:
BEVERLY RICHMOND, 15, Putnam, Conn.
ERIC DAVIES, 7, Hampton, N.H.
MARY FRANK, 38, Warren, Mich.
KENT WOODWORTH, 9, New London, N.H.
SHIRLEY ZORZY, 22, Lynn, Mass.
CHARLES USHER, 55, Dover, N.H.
A 2-year-old child identified only as the “GROSS child of Brookline, Mass.”
An unidentified female was the eighth victim.
At Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, CHARLES GROSS, 31; his wife GABY, 34, and their 3-year-old daughter MELANIE, of Brookline, Mass., were undergoing treatment today. Their relationship to the dead GROSS child was not determined immediately.
Three passengers on the ill-fated car were in critical condition at the Hanover hospital. They were RICHARD LESLIE, 49, of Madison, Ohio, a skull fracture and other injuries; NORRIS BLACKBURN, 68, of Memphis, Tenn., spine and other injuries, and MRS. MARIE BUXTON, 49, of Clifton, N.J., back injury.
Most of the injured were taken first to the Littleton Hospital, where doctors put a disaster plan into operation and called all available help. Some 25 doctors and about 40 nurses worked through the night.
The injured were rushed over twisting back mountain roads to the hospitals in northern New Hampshire and Vermont.
Teams of rescue workers needed some four hours to bring the injured and the dead to a base station.
It was not immediately determined how many were in the excursion car when it broke free and rolled down 500 feet before soaring from the cog track and crashing.
The accident happened about one-third of the way down the 3 1/2 miles of track along the west side of the 6,288-foot mountain in the center of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains.
The descent is usually made at four miles an hour with the locomotive in front of the one passenger car backing down.
A passenger, Bertrand Croteau, 32, of Thornton said that when the train reached the first switch Sunday “the locomotive began to shake and just fell off the road.”
He said the passenger car began rolling free “and the brakeman tried to put on the brakes. We went about 500 feet and then we went off the tracks.”
He said he was thrown through a window and
“buried under a pile of bodies.”
Ralph Este, a technician at the transmitter on top of the mountain for WMTM-TV of Poland Springs, Maine, said the engine jumped the track at a point where there is a spur track.
He said the passenger car derailed at a shallow curve just before the track plunges down the steepest incline of the railway, a section called Jacob’s Ladder that has a grade angle of 37.41 per cent.
The passenger car was made of aluminum and reportedly was one of the railway’s newer ones.
INJURED ON MT. WASHINGTON.
Mt. Washington, N.H. (AP) — Here is a partial list of persons injured when an excursion train fell off the Cog Railway and into a gorge on Mt. Washington Sunday:
RUSTY AERTSEN, 19, of Bucks County, Pa.
FLOYD BAILEY, 40, his wife LOUISE, 41, and son KENNETH, 12, of New London, N.H.
MR. and MRS. ANTHONY BERTELLI of Haddam, Conn.
ROGER CARDIN, 47; his wife RITA, 42, and son ROGER, JR., 21, of Newmarket, N.H.
NATHANIEL CARTER, 23, of South Woodstock, N.H.
RICHARD CASPINIUS, 63, and JENNIE CASPINIUS, 60, of Falmouth, Maine.
GORDON CHASE of Lincoln, N.H.
BERTRAND CROTEAU, 32; his wife, EDMAE, 30; daughter DEBRA, 11; and son BERTRAND, JR., 6, of Thornton, N.H.
CAROL DAVIES, 9, and LORETTA DAVIES, 5, of Hampton, N.H.
EVERETT DEMERITT, 30, of Wolcott, Vt.
CAROL DORSAY, 26, of Woodstock, Vt.
JEFFREY GAINES, 2, of Rockport, Maine.
PAULINE GOTCHREAU and DAVID GOTCHREAU, 64, of Putnam, Conn.
CHARLES GROSS, GABY GROSS, 34; and MELANIE GROSS, 4, of Brookline, Mass.
GEORGE KALOCERIS, 28, of Lynn, Mass.
CHARLES KENNISON, 18, of Jefferson, N.H.
ROBERT PROVENCHAL, 31; and daughters, LINDA and SUSAN, of Biddeford, Maine.
JOHN RICHMAN, 12, of Putnam, Conn.
HAROLD ROGERS, 44; his wife FRANCIS, 34; and son DEAN, of Campton, N.H.
GRETA SCHOPE, 33, of Bridgeport, Conn.
JOSEPH VALLIERE, 59, of Methuen, Mass.
BERYL WARREN, 27, and his son PATRICK, 1, of Craftsbury, Vt.
MR. and MRS. JOSEPH LAURENDEAU and daughter LINDA, 3, of South Barre, Vt.
MR. and MRS. JAY WITMER of Roxbury, Mass.
MR. and MRS. MORRIS BLACKBURN of Memphis, Tenn.
A. RICHARD LESLIE of Madison, Ohio.
MR. and MRS. GEORGE BUXTON of Clifton, N.H.
Nashua Telegram New Hamsphire 1967-09-18