Statement of Engineer Doran

Q. How many years have you been in the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company?
A. I was employed on the sixth of January, 1861.

Q. Have you been in the service ever since?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. How long have you been a locomotive engineer?
A. I fired two years; from January 6th , 1861 to about the 25th of March, 1863; that would make it about 26 years.

Q. What train were you on as engineer on the last day of May?
A. The first section of Day Express.

Q. State what was the condition of things as to the height of the water when you reached Johnstown that morning?
A. Well, it was unusually high; that is, they had a bigger flood there than they ever had in an ordinary raise of the water, I heard old citizens say, there at Johnstown when we got there.

Q. What is your own experience?
A. It was higher than I ever knew it.

Q. Was there ever anything like it before?
A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. How much higher was it at Johnstown than any flood you ever saw before?
A. I think it was higher, but I can't say how much higher than I ever saw it; fully a couple feet.

Q. How did it affect the houses?
A. They were surrounded with water?

Q. To what depth?
A. Well, up until the first story was under water.

Q. Where were the people?
A. They were up in the second story; most of them.

Q. How much of the town was covered up that was with water?
A. It was covered back as far as we could see from the railroad.

Q. The streets were filled with water too?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. And public travel obstructed?
A. Yes, sir, entirely so.

Q. How long did you stay at Johnstown?
A. Between 8 and 12 minutes.

Q. What point did you go to then?
A. Conemaugh.

Q. On the was to Conemaugh, what did you see of the water, as to its height? was it very high and running much drift?
Q. [sic] A good deal of drift, and a great many whole trees coming down; very high.

Q. What time of day was that?
A. About half-past ten o'clock.

Q. Can you tell me about what time you got to Conemaugh?
A. I think we got there about 10.35 or 10.40.

Q. What was the condition of the water at Conemaugh?
A. It was very high.

Q. Was it out of its banks or not?
A. No, sir, it wasn't running over its banks.

Q. What track did you take your train up on?
A. We went up on the main track, and then we got orders to lay there at Conemaugh, and the despatcher backed us onto the river siding, as we term it. There is a side track there next to the river, and we call it the river siding. We found after we were cleverly backed in there that the embankment was giving way; the water had washed it away clear to the ties; so they took us off there, and put us on the north sidg [sic]

Q. Where is that north siding?
A. On the north side of the main tracks at Conemaugh.

Q. How far away from where you were placed at first?
A. Two main tracks first.

Q. How far were you away from the river bank where you lay the second time?
A. We had pulled up just west of the tower on the river track, then when we moved, we lay east of the tower; consequently, it threw us, I judge, 150 feet away from the river just at that point. We were laying with our engine nearly opposite the round house.

Q. You were perfectly secure from the flood there, were you not?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Were you down about the telegraph tower?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. How often?
A. I wasn't there very often. We were in view of it all the time. The rear end of the train was lying near about opposite the telegraph office.

Q. Did you have any talk with Mr. Walkinshaw , the despatcher, shortly after you went there?
A. Yes, sir, we had.

Q. What were you talking about?
A. Why he said there was rumors of danger of the reservoir bursting; and Mr. Adams, the engineer of the engine that was coupled onto my engine to help me up the hill; that is, to assist me, as Day Express had eight cars that day, he made the remark that that was always the big scare whenever there was high water; and he said he had been living there 34 years, but he never saw the water as high it was then.

Q. How long did you stay there before the water came from the dam?
A. We were there from that time until about a quarter of four o'clock.

Q. Did you consider yourtrain [sic] in a place of safety from the water where it was placed last?
A. In an ordinary flood, yes,sir; [sic] safe and secure.

Q. If it hadn't been for this extraordinary wave or volume of water that came from the dam, don't you think your train would have been entirely safe?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Well, was there any safer place to put those trains than where they were?
A. Not at Conemaugh, no, sir.

Q. Do you know whether the road was washed out east of you?
A. Yes, sir, that was what was detaining us at Conemaugh.

Q. Do you know where it was washed out?
A. I only know that it was washed out west of Lilly.

Q. Well, now, in your judgement, and from your knowledge of the railroad at Conemaugh, and east and west of it, did Mr. Walkinshaw put those trains in as safe a place as they could be put under the circumstances?
A. Yess, [sic] sir, he did.

Q. Could he have bettered it in any way?
A. No, sir, not in any way. He made them secure; he moved them off the river siding in good time.

Q. Where was you when the flood did come?
A. I was standing about the first or second coach of our train talking to the express man and baggage man of Mail train.

Q. Describe what the volume of water, or wave, looked like, when it came down, and you saw it.
A. It looked just like a rolling body of water, shooting out a great deal of rubbish, trees and heavy timbers. Every now and then, they would be thrown clear out of the water, trees turning roots over top clear out of the top of the water.

Q. How high was it?
A. I thought it looked about 20 feet high.

Q. Now, you say you were back about the second passenger coach when the flood came; did you see any passengers about then?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What warning was given them?
A. I heard the conductor hollowing to them to run to the hill.

Q. What did he say, as near as you can recollect?
A. He hollowed "Get to the hill! Get to the hill!! The dam has bursted!!!"

Q. Was that before, or after you saw the wave coming?
A. Just after the whistle was sounded, I was looking ahead to see it; and there were some trees up along the river, and they just turned over as if they were pushed down, and exposed the water coming

Q. Who was your conductor?
A. Sam. Bell.

Q. You heard him tell the passengers?
A. Yes, sir, I heard him hollow, telling them to get to the hill

Q. Were there any coaches taken out of your train?
A. Yes, sir, there was one.

Q. A passenger coach?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Anybody in it, do you know ?
A. Well, now, I didn't see it go; nothing more than hearsay. I know it was gone after the flood subsided.

Q. It didn't take your locomotive?
A. Yes, sir, it took our locomotive and baggage car. It washed it down, and over to one side; several feet to the left hand side. It was laying over on her side.

Q. There were no engines carried off that they didn't recover?
A. No, sir.

Q. It did lift a number of the engines off the tracks, and turn them over?
A. Yes, sir; some of them from the round house were washed down; well, one of them was washed down a half-mile fully. I know No. 9, I think it was, was washed over near Tom Cassidy's house; that must be a quarter of a mile or very near it; it was on the turn table at the round house when they left her; and those trains were between it and the round house apparently, and I don't know how it got over there. The next morning when I came down, Mr Capstick, the round house foreman, says to me, "There's the engine that was on the table." She was laying over there near where Confer's house stood; washed out, and in fact, pretty well up on shore.

Q. Did you hear of any dispatch being received there that the South Fork dam was in danger?
A. Yes, sir, Mr. Walkinshaw, the despatcher, said there were rumors of it.

Q. You didn't see any dispatch yourself?
A. No, sir, I did not?

Q. In all your running through that mountain, did you ever see any wave of water like that?
A. Never, never.

Q. Did you ever see the Conemaugh or South Fork over the tracks there at Conemaugh?
A. No, sir, I never did, and I have seen a good many floods. It was the highest water I ever saw there. From the time we laid there at Conemaugh until the big wave came down, it had raised two feet or more.

Q. Do you recollect anything about the dam going out before?
A. My recollection of that was nothing more than hearsay; I had no personal knowledge of it.

Q. Do you recollect of the dam breaking away in 1862, or thereabout?
A. I cannot say that I do remember it personally; I heard about it though. It is evident that it didn't do much damage; it didn't affect the railroad. I was on the railroad at that time, and had no knowledge of it being interrupted, but I have no personal knowledge of the think itself.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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