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All Aboard to Brewster

The Southeast Museum presents:

Chronicling the History of the Railroad in Brewster

The Brewster Standard - Happenings Column

Since its inception in the 1870s, the Brewster Standard brought news of daily life in Brewster. The Happenings Column relayed short excerpts of important local events as well as the mundane reporting on the health and social life of its citizens. The column provides a wonderful glance into the characteristic of the times it chronicled. Here are some early notes of railroad events, news, and accidents from 1879 to 1948:

Friday January 3, 1879

"One of the pleasantest scenes enacted at the close of 1878 took place at White Plains on Tuesday evening, upon the arrival of conductor Trowbridge's train.  The moment the locomotive came to a standstill all the train hands, conductor, engineer, fireman, baggage master and brakemen were invited to step into the depot waiting room and there assistant District Attorney W.P. Fiero of Mt. Kisco, in a very appropriate speech presented the conductor Trowbridge $100 in gold and to each of the other train hands substantial gold tokens were also presented.  These were obtained by means of a subscription circulated at each of the several stations along the railroad and was intended as partial reimbursement of the loss sustained by the hands at the burning of a baggage-car, which occurred at Pawling last week."

Friday January 10, 1879

"Dr. Slawson, a resident of Mt. Kisco, was struck by the locomotive of the night freight on Tuesday, and suffered dangerous injuries.  His skull was fractured and he was otherwise bruised and lacerated… Recovery is almost impossible."

Friday February, 1879

"The engine and baggage car of the White Plains Special which leaves New York at 4:15 p.m.  ran off the turn table just north of White Plain's depot on Monday.  The ground was hard and they ran 8 or 10 rods downhill without damage.  The engine and car were restored to the track Tuesday… The failure of the patent air brakes were said to be the cause of the accident."

Friday September 12, 1879

"The railroad crossing near the four corners about one mile this side of Carmel, is a dangerous place.  Even though there is now but one locomotive on the road, that employed only on the construction train, there have been many narrow escapes and the complaint is general.  The railroads should be bridged."

Friday January 20, 1882

"The recent terrible accident on the Spuyten Duyvil has called attention to the fact that on the best equipped roads there may be danger.  On this great railroad claimed to be run with special references to safety, with double tracks, and on large portions, quadruple tracks, an express train is stopped, and a special train running at 25 mile an hour comes crashing into the elegant drawing-room cars, killing or severely wounding the passengers to add to the shocking disaster, the shattered cars take fire, and some that might have been rescued alive from the crash are burned to death in the presence of friends who would have recused them.  In the death of Senator Wagner, in one of his own elegant palace cars and of Mr. and Mrs. Valentine, the young groom and bride of a day, there seems a singular fate."

Friday January 20, 1882

The Hon. Robert A. Livingston was on board the ill-fated train as well.  "Their (the trapped passengers) screams of agony and prayers to God for help, were agonizing in the extreme."

Friday Evening May 23, 1884

"At 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon, the repair shops of the Harlem Railroad located in the upper portion of the city were discovered to be on fire.  Before the flames could be subdued almost the entire square was destroyed, causing a loss of $250,000 and throwing 100 men out of employment.  The origin of the fire is unknown.  No insurance."

Friday Evening June 6, 1884

"The Harlem Railroad employees are soon to appear in uniform."

Friday Evening August 1, 1884

     " A body cut in two and lying beside the railroad track at Croton Falls last Friday evening somewhat startled the few villagers who remained at the station until after the milk train passed."   The young man, Edgar O. Cox  "attempted to get on board while the cars were in motion…the jury found that the deceased was under the influence of liquoir," and the train's conductor was not charged with reckless driving.  

January 5, 1900

"The 5:18 Northbound mail train on the Harlem Division was 45 minutes late Wednesday evening.   The loss of time was caused by a leaky engine, it being impossible to keep up steam enough to carry the train through on schedule time."  - Did steam engine leak often, was this a contributing reason for the change over?

January 12, 1900

"The railroad corporations are determined to get their share of the good things in sight, brought about by the general revival of all branches of business, and with this end in view, they have adopted a new schedule of freight rates, citing an advance from 35 to 50 per cent."  As of January 1st due to an overall all increase on costs from ties to engines.

May 25, 1900

"The section of the Trestle bridge crossing the Harlem tracks near Scarsdale was burned last week.  The structure caught fire from the sparks of a passing engine.  The crew of a work train extinguished the blaze and cleared away the partly burned beams and debris.  The bridge was built for the Hartsdale and Scarsdale railroad 50 year ago."

January 22, 1948

Commuters Fares. Rise to Meet Costs

New Rates to Apply on Harlem, Putnam and Hudson Division on February 1, 1948

"The New York Central announced receipt of authority Janzo from New York State Public Service Commission to make a 10 per cent increase in commutation fares on its Harlem, Hudson and Putnam Divisions, effective February 1. Tariffs covering the increased fares will be filed immediately.  The Commission in its ruling announced Tuesday authorized such an interim increase on several railroads to help offset part of the additional costs of operation. F.H. Baird, general passenger traffic manager of the Central pointed out that, 'Present monthly rates on our Harlem, Hudson and Putnam Divisions are at the same level as in 1932. Since then however, there have been very considerable increases in the costs we must meet to provide commutation service.  For example, the average of wages now being paid by the railroads has increased approximately 110 per cent, and the average of prices of materials and supplies, including fuel, has climbed approximately 148 per cent,' Baird continued."

February 26, 1948Railroaders Study Courtesy and Service

New York Central Provides Correspondence Course for Employees Who Cannot Attend Classroom Courses.

"A correspondence course in public relations for employees is the New York Central's newest effort to further improve courtesy and service to the traveling and shipping public, the railroad announced today.

L. W. Horning, Vice President, personnel and Public Relations, pointed that more than 50,000 employees have attended public relations conference classes being held for several years at many points on the Central's 11,000 mile system.

Because of unusual working hours or varying working locations, particularly in train service, some employees have been unable to attend such classes, which are conducted one night a week for six weeks at numerous locations...

It brings out such points as the value of courtesy to employees both on and off the job, numerous practical hints for improving relations with the public and other people; and provides basic knowledge about the workings and economics of the company and the relationships of its customers, employees, management and investors."

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