Q. What train were you employed on?
A. I was flagging first No. 8
Q. How long had you been running on the road?
A. I have been on the road in the passenger department for five years.
Q. Now, what was the condition of things when you arrived at Johnstown, as to the height of the water, etc?
Q. [sic] When we arrived at Johnstown, the water was up to the first story in those houses along the bridge, and about half the people were up on the bridge watching the flood at the time. They were all the way from the station down to the stone bridge.
Q. Did you ever seee [sic] as high a flood as that?
A. No, sir, I never did.
Q. Who was your conductor?
A. S. E. Bell
Q. And who were the brakemen on your train?
A. Sam. Miller, and Frank Galbraith.
Q. How long did you remain at Johnstown?
A. Fifteen minutes, I think.
Q. And where was the next stop made?
A. At Conemaugh; we arrived there at 10.40.
Q. And what took place when you got to Conemaugh? (
A.) We backed in on the south freight siding; we only backed partway in, and we discovered that the track was half-washed out, and we pulled out again, and backed across to the second north siding west of the road crossing, and laid there as near as I can remember until about two o'clock, when pe [sic] pulled up on the second siding from the station, with our engines laying on the other side of the station. Then we cut our helper off to clear the station crossing of somecars [sic] that were standing there. After that, we put the hand brakes on the train, as we didn't know how long we were going to stay there, and made everything as safe as possible. Second No. 8 then pulled up on the outside of us, next to Conemaugh town, and there was a limestone train laying on the other side of us. We were laying between the limestone train and second Day Express. We laid there until about 3.50 (3.48 or 3.50) when I heard an engine coming down the road, whistling as it came. After that , the water followed?
A. [sic] Were you on your train?
A. I was with my train all the time while we were there, except that I went out to the river shore with the passengers, but I was never at any time further than a hundred yards from the hind end of my train.
Q. At the time you heard the alarm whistle, had the water gotten over the bank?
A. It was about level with the bank; it wasn't over it though.
Q. How far was your train away from the river bank at that time?
A. It was six track lengths away.
Q. About what distance in yards?
A. Between 30 and 40 yards, I would think; that was, at the rear end of the train.
Q. Except for this great deluge of water that bore down there, was the train in a place of safety?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was the ground higher than the top of the river bank?
A. No, sir, it was about on a level with it.
Q. Had the river been rising very rapidly from the time you got there until you heard that alarm whistle?
A. The river had been rising very fast until about noon, when it began to fall, and fell a few inches; then it raised [sic] again very rapidly, and took the township bridge away there acros s [sic] the river. That was a wagon bridge right at Conemaugh station below the tower. That was about 2.30, as near as I can remember.
Q. Now, do you know how many people you had on your train?
A. No,sir, [sic] I don't. I know how many there were in the hind car; there were 26.
Q. How many of them got out?
Q. What became of the other four?
A. The other four were drowned.
Q. Had you time, or did you go to your train, after you heard that alarm whistle?
A. I was on my train all the time.
Q. What did you do?
A. I went out on the platform, looked up, and saw what was the matter; I saw the wave coming, and saw it strike the bridge away up at the round house.
Q. I thought you said the township bridge went about 2.20
A. So it did; this was the railroad bridge.
Q. You say you notified the passengers?
A. ? Yes sir, I went back and told them they had better go to the hills, and there were six men started. I looked up on the other side, and the water was coming down around the curve I looked were we had to go, and then looked back in the car, and there were a lot of old ladies in there, and old gentleman and a couple young ladies, and I told them they had better stay where they were, as they couldn't make the hills, as they would have to cross second No. 8, go down over two high fences, across a deep ditch and go forty yards below the train towards Johnstown to get over those fences and ditch, and I told them to stay there. Then I saw a lady going with a baby, and I helped her with the baby--
Q. What became of her?
A. I got her out on the hill; she was the last one to get out. I passed on the way these two old ladies, a young man and a young lady, and a little after, I looked back and saw them go down, about thirty yards from the train.
Q. How many passengers, if any, were there in the other cars?
A. I couldn't say; I had been through the train a number of times to see if everything was all right, but I couldn't give the number of passengers in the train.
Q. Did you see anything of the passengers in the car ahead of you?
A. No, sir, I was at the rear end of the train.
Q. Where was your conductor at this time that you gave this warning?
A. I don't know; I believe he was on the Mail train; at least, that is where I understood him to say he was.
Q. Did you see him come to the train, and give any warning:
A. I did not.
Q. If he had been there, could you have seen him?
A. No, if he had been on the front part of the train, I couldn't have seen him.
Q. You didn't see him then?
A. No, sir.
Q. How far was the hill that you reached, away from the train?
A. I suppose it was 150 yards to a point of safety.
Q. How long was the flood in passing by after you got out?
A. About an hour and a half, I think; I wouldn't be positive.
Q. Well, it was in that neighborhood?
A. Yes, sir, about an hour and a half.
Q. Then it commenced to fail very rapidly, did it?
A. Yes, sir, it went down very fast.
Q. And by night had it gotten in its banks again, or not?
A. Yes, partly. It had gone down so that we went down to the train, and got the passengers that had remained in the train and brought them ashore. I found 15 of my passengers on my train.
Q. That was after the flood had gone by?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What car were they in?
A. They were in P. & ?. C. car 532.
Q. Was that the last car on your train?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was it a passenger coach or a Pullman car?
A. It was a passenger coach.
Q. How do you account for them being saved?
A. The water didn't wet the seats in the cars at all. The windows were all down and
Q. Was that the reason the water didn't come in?
A. I think it was. The first wave dashed over the tops of the cars.
Q. Did you see them?
A. Yes, sir, I saw the cars all the time. The water about them was higher than the cars.
Q. Did you see any of the cars take fire and burn up?
A. When I went back, there was a car of li?e there which had floated against the sleeper of second No. 8, and was on fire. The slack had set the car afire. After I took our passengers out and took them to the hill, I went back and worked with the rest of the crews until dark to get the fire out. I left there, and put the Pullman cars in charge of Mr. Walkinshaw; he said he would send men to take charge of the cars, and watch that the fire didn't break out again;
Q. Were the Pullman cars burnt?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was that before or after you quit work?
A. After; it was the next morning about five o'clock.
Q. Do you know how that occurred?
A. No, sir; I wasn't on the train at that time. Mr. Walkinshaw had taken charge of the train; and we went over to the church and staid [sic] there until about 11 o'clock, when a gentleman came there, and told as he could get us a bed, and we staid with him until the next morning after we got our breakfast, about 7 o'clock.
Q. Do you know the man's name?
A. I do not; he is the man who has the Post Office there, whoever time is.
Q. What time did you leave Conemaugh?
A. We left there the next morning about 9 o'clock with Mr. Trump and party, and walked to Johnstown.
Q. Did you hear anything about the dam breaking while you were laying there at Conemaugh?
A. Mr. Bell told me when he moved the train up that last time that it was thought the South Fork dam was going to give way. That was the only official notice I had of it.
Q. What time was that?
A. That was about 2 O'clock.
Q. What change did you make in the train there?
A. We moved the train from west of the road crossing up to the station.
Q. How much further about from the river?
A. Well, I guess three tracks further away.
Q. Now, did you communicate that to the passengers?
A. I did, yes, sir. I talked to the passengers at the time in all the cars, and about 20 minutes to three, it commenced to rain very hard, and a great many of the passengers who had left the train, came back again, and some said if it hadn't bursted [sic] yet, there wasn't much danger of it bursting for another hour. A great many ralked [sic] that way. Everybody appeared to be in a good humor, and shortly after forgot all about it.
Q. Did you have any idea that there was danger?
A. I certainly did.
Q. Had you any conversation with the operator?
A. No, sir.
Q. So that you did not get any direct information as to the condition of the South Fork dam?
A. No, sir, I didn't.
Q. The only information you got was from Mr. Bell, was it?
A. That was the only information I got.
Q. Why then did you think there was danger?
A. The only thing that made me think there was danger was the moving of the train. I can't say I thought there was any immediate danger, but when it commenced to rain so hard, I thought there was danger.
Q. Did you think there would be any danger to the train when the dam did break?
A. No, sir, I would have staid [sic] in the train myself if it hadn't been for the lady coming with the baby at the last minute.
Q. Did you think there was any danger to the train after the dam did break?
A. No, sir, I wouldn't have left the train if it hadn't been for the lady with the baby, and I knew she couldn't make the hill by herself. I was standing there, and I told people that they had better not try it. There were a great many old people there that I knew couldn't make the hill. That was just before the wave struck the train.
Q. Did the water catch you?
A. The water caught us just as we got to the hill. It caught the lady up to about the knees.
Flagman Hare Statement
Q. What train were you employed on?
Last updated: February 26, 2015