Fireman Gray

Q. Were you in the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in May last?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. In what capacity?
A. Fireman.

Q. What engine?
A. 1051.

Q. On what train?
A. Day Express.

Q. Which section?
A. First section

Q. Well, now, I wish you would describe what was the appearance of Johnstown when you reached there on Friday morning, May 31st, the time of the flood.
A. Well, some of the streets were flooded; I couldn't say what streets, as I am not acquainted with the town, but there were some of them flooded.

Q. To what depth, by any mark on the houses?
A. I couldn't say.

Q. Well, was the lower portion of the town pretty well submerged?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Was it half-way up the door posts of some of them?
A. I couldn't say about that; I didn't notice it very closely.

Q. Where did the people seem to be?
A. Most of them were in the second stories.

Q. Did you see them?
A. I saw some of them, yes, sir. Of course, I couldn't say that they were driven there by the water.

Q. How long did you train lay at Johnstown?
A. We only lay there a short time; about 20 minutes.

Q. Then, where did you go?
A. To Conemaugh.

Q. Well, now, where were you placed when you got to Conemaugh? Which siding or track?
A. We first laid on the main track--

Q. Where did you go from the main track?
A. Over to the fourth track.

Q. Was that the furthest track; the one next to the hill?
A. No, sir, there was another track next to the hill.

Q. Were you changed after you got over onto that track?
A. No, sir, we weren't changed.

Q. Well why were you changed from the main track to the fourth track?
A. I couldn't say; I don't know .

Q. Was it done by order of the despatcher?
A. I suppose it was; I didn't see the orders though.

Q. Who was your engineer?
A. Pat. Doran.

Q. What time was it, as near as you can recollect , when you got to Conemaugh?
A. I suppose it must have ben between 11 and 12 o'clock.

Q. Were you off of your engine at any time after you got there?
A. Yes, sir, I walked over to the river bank.

Q. What time?
A. About 12 o'clock, I guess.

Q. What was the condition of the water then as to height?
A. Well, it was up near the edge of the bank.

Q. Where was the other Day Express with reference to where your train was?
A. On the track next to the hill.

Q. Further away from the stream than your train?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Now, how often were you down to the river, off of your train, while you lay there?
A. Twice.

Q. When was the last time?
A. I suppose about half an hour after the first time I had been down.

Q. Were you down about the telegraph office?
A. No, sir.
(Here the witness discovers that he has made a mistake in regard to the disposition of his train on arrival at Conemaugh, and upon being asked to straighten it out, say:) We were first backed in on the first track, and we laid down there, I suppose, half an hour, and then we pulled up onto the fourth track. It was while we were on the first track that I was over to the river.

Q. Did you hear any talk by Mr. Walkinshaw, the despatcher there or any of our Penna. Railroad people, about a dispatch from South Fork in regard to the condition of the dam?
A. No, sir.

Q. You didn't hear anything?
A. No, sir, not from the railroad people; all I heard was some men around Conemaugh saying that the dam was liable to burst. Q. Who were they?
A. I don't know who they were; they were strangers to me, and were talking among themselves.

Q. What time of day was that?
A. Well, indeed I couldn't say. I guess it was about half-past two.

Q. Do you recollect what any of them said?
A. No, sir, nothing more than just that they said it was liable to burst, and it would be terrible if it would.

Q. Did you hear any of the passengers talking about it?
A. No, sir.

Q. Were the passengers out walking around, a good many of them, where these people were, where they could hear this talk?
A. I didn't notice any of them around there at that time.

Q. Where were you when the flood came?
A. Well, I was over pretty near the mountain when it struck Conemaugh. The water was in sight though when I left my engine

Q. How far away?
A. I suppose a matter of a couple hundred yards.

Q. And you got off your engine and ran?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you run pretty fast?
A. I'm a pretty good runner when I'm scared; yes sir.

Q. You got up on the side of the hill when the wave came along?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What did it look like?
A. Well, it didn't seem to have time to spread out, at first.

Q. Did it seem to be traveling rapidly?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What time of day was it that the flood struck Conemaugh, do you suppose?
A. I heard some of the men say it was about 3.40.

Q. Where was your engineer when the flood came along?
A. He came and told me before he went away, that the dam had bursted. I stopped long enough to get my coat and hat from the engine and then I started after him, and we were going for a while together, and when we got pretty near the mountain, I was a little head of him.

Q. Did the water travel very rapidly over the tracks?
A. It seemed to, yes, sir.

Q. Did it carry any of the cars of your train away?
A. Yes, sir, it took two cars away.

Q. Which cars?
A. The baggage car and the smoker.

Q. It just knocked them out from the rest of the train and locomotive?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. All the cars were left standing on the track, were they?
A. I think there was an express car, two coaches and a Pullman car, If I remember rightly.

Q. When you started to go, did you see any of your passengers get out?
A. I didn't see any one; no, sir.

Q. Who was the conductor of your train?
A. Bell, I think; I'm not sure.

Q. Do you know where he was when the flood came?
A. No, sir.

Q. Had he been around the train before?
A. He might have been; I didn't see him though.

Q. How long had you been on the engiine [sic] before the flood came?
A. I don't know; I suppose I was sitting in the cab about an a hour.


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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