Wednesday, September 29, 2010


A photograph on eBay, apparently an accident on the Vermont Central. The eBay seller redhouse31 says,

"Measuring about 5-1/2" x 3-1/2", this black and white photo postcard depicts what is obviously a train wreck in the clean-up or investigation stage. There are two trains in the picture. The one on the left is the one that is damaged. It is just a steam locomotive, with the front part intact but the cab in ruins, as if an explosion had torn it to shreds. The other train looks to be undamaged, as if it was not part of the accident but just came along afterwards to help clean up.

"Both locomotives look like Pacific models, possibly Baldwins, with either six or eight big wheels (it's hard to see the small wheels). On the damaged locomotive, the only identifying mark I see is a number on the front dome - it looks like either 811 or 311, but it could also be a four-digit number, with the first digit hidden. The other train has a light in front of the funnel that looks like it has a number above it, but I can't read it. The first freight car behind the tender, however, appears to say Vermont Central (and I realize, of course, that, even if I've read that correctly, that doesn't necessarily mean that this accident took place on a Vermont Central Railroad track - these freight cars aften travel far from their home turf).

"Beyond the tracks, all I can see is trees, but the foliage is gone, so this is not a summertime incident. In the immediate foreground are a few curious onlookers, and, closer to the train, some men in suits and bowler hats (obviously the investigation team) and a couple of guys in boilersuits. The undamaged train has an engineer leaning out of the cab window, and there is smoke coming out of the funnel. Between the tracks and the foreground onlookers is a tangle of miscellaneous debris - either thrown there by the explosion or piled up there after being derailed by the explosion. I see some rolling stock wheels leaning up against some other unidentifiable car parts.

"I wish I had more information on the precise time and place of this accident, but I think I've given you all the clues I can come up with. It has not been mailed or used or written on, so there are no clues on the other side."

[Note: I've Photoshopped the image to correct for parallax distortion. As always, click on the image to see a larger version.]

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