Engineer Henry Statement

Q. Where and in what capacity were you employed in May last?
A. As engineer of second Day Express east.

Q. Didyou [sic] run on your usual time until you reached Johnstown?
A. No, sir, we left here on time, hhat [sic] is, right behind the first section, but were detained at New Florence on account of a land slide about 20 minutes.

Q. What was your observation as to the height of the Conemaugh after you had reached Pack Saddle? What was the depth of the water, was it high or not?
A. Well, the river was pretty high, and still appeared to be rising some; can't tell exactly how much it was rising.

Q. After you got around to Pack Saddle mountain, and saw the river, and from that on to Johnstown, was the river up?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What orders, if any, did you get at Johnstown about the running of your train?
A. We got orders to follow the first section carefully to Conemaugh.

Q. Who was the engineer of the first section?
A. Mr. Doran.

Q. When you got to Conemaugh, what was done? Where was your train placed?
A. The first section was laying over on the siding---

Q. On what siding?
A. On the north side.

Q. On the furthest north track, or not?
A. No, sir, not then. We pulled up to the water plug, and laid there quite a good while---

Q. How long?
A. Well, I judge, until in the neighborhood of 2 o'clock, very near; then we backed down in alongside of the other train.

Q. What was the reason of that being done?
A. Why the track was washed away arouns [sic] us.

Q. Which track?
A. The south mi n [sic] track.

Q. That was the one next to the Conemaugh, was it?
A. No, sir, there was a freight track next to the Conemaugh, and it was gone, and then, the water commenced to interfere with the main track.

Q. The object then was to get you to a place of safety?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Was the water rising while you were lying there?
A. It didn't appear to be rising much, but kept at its own height pretty much all the time.

Q. After you got there, were you moved again?
A. Yes, sir, the first section pulled up about four hundred yards from where we were laying, and I pulled up behind them and pulled up on the track furthest away from the river.

Q. What was that movement made for?
A. To get away from the river as far as possible) [sic]

Q. To get you in a safer, or more secure place?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Who was the conductor of your train?
A. Mr. Easton.

Q. Now, were you off your engine from the time it was moved last up until the time the flood came?
A. I went down along the train there, but not any distance away from it. I was on the engine when the flood came.

Q. How long was it after you were moved last until the flood came.
A. Well, as near as I could state, it would be about an hour, I should judge.

Q. That would bring it in the neighborhood or 3 o'clock?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you hear from any officer of the Company, or anybody else that there was danger of the South Fork dam breaking?
A. I heard that they had notified Johnstown; that's all I knew. Just by rumors around there. I didn't hear it from anybody who knew any more about it the I did.

Q. Who had notified Johnstown?
A. I heard that some person, I don't know who, had notified Johnstown to be on the look-out.

Q. That's all you heard?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. You know Mr. Walkinshaw, the despatcher at Conemaugh?
A. Yes, sir, I was talking to him, and he didn't say anything to me about it.

Q. How long before the flood came were you talking to him?
A. Well, I suppose it was pretty near 4 o'clock.

Q. And Mr. Walkinshaw didn't tell you there was danger of the dam going?
A. No, sir.

Q. From anything you saw there, had you any apprehension yourself that your life was in danger?
A. No, sir, I was there in 1862 when the dam broke, and I thought it would be something just like it was then, and I knew if it wasn't anything worse than that, it wouldn't be much worse than it was. If it hadn't been for that, I would have thought more about it.

Q. Where were you when the flood came in 1862 when the dam broke?
A. I couldn't say for sure. I think at Conemaugh; I think itwas [sic] Conemaugh because we got orders that day to run careful at the embankment at South Fork bridge because it had been washed away some.

Q. That is the railroad bridge?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What was the appearance of that flood in 1862 when the dam burst and the water came down?
A. I can't well remember; it was a little rise in the water, but not anything to hurt anything.

Q. How many feet did it swell the channel?
A. I don't suppose more than a foot or a foot and a half, perhaps.

Q. Then, from that fact, you judged that even if the dam did break, that the water couldn't reach your train, where it was?
A. No, sir, I thought it couldn't do any damage where it was; I hadn't any idea of the whole mountain coming down, trees and all.

Q. Did you see the flood coming when the dam broke this last time?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Now, describe it. Where were you?
A. I was on the engine when it came.

Q. And how far was the engine then from the river bank?
A. It must have been about three hundred yards from the river there.

Q. Just describe to me, in your own way, what the appearance of this volume was.
A. Well, it looked more like a forest coming than water, at first. All the rubbish, trees, and everything were coming right ahead of it.

Q. How high did it look to you?
A. Well, when it came out of the mouth of the mountains there, it looked to me to be about thirty feet high, or very near.

Q. Did it stretch across the valley?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. How far did it come up on your locomotive?
A. Well, it didn't get up over four feet.

Q. Did it get up in the cab?
A. No, sir, it wasn't over the running board of our engine.

Q. Was your fireman with you there?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What is his name?
A. Isaac Miller.

Q. How long did the water remain at its height?
A. Well, I should judge it wasn't more than three quarters of an hour from the time the flood came until we went over to our train.

Q. Now, where was the first section of Day Express lying with reference to your train?
A. Alongside of it.

Q. It was on the furthest north track?
A. No, sir, we were on the furthest track from the river, and they were on the next.

Q. How many coaches had you that day?
A. We didn't have any coaches. We had three sleepers, one express [sic]
A. We didn't have any coaches. We had three sleepers, one express car, and two mail cars. [sic]

Q. How many cars, if any, were lost?
A. None at all; we didn't lose anything.

Q. Did you observe whether the passengers got out of your train and got away, or were any of them drowned?
A. I could hardly tell whether there were or not. I heard there were, and then again I heard there were not.

Q. Did you see them make an effort to get out?
A. Yes, sir, when I saw the flood coming, I hollowed to my fireman to get out; I ran back to the train and hollowed to the mail men, and then ran back to the sleeper and hollowed to the passengers in the sleeper to look out for themselves. Our train was standing at an embankment five or six feet high and I got down over there and helped some of them down, and staid there until the last one was done. I was the last one leaving our train.

Q. Where did you go then?
A. I went up to the hill.

Q. Then you got everybody out of your train?
A. No, sir, there were 16 of our passengers staid in the cars, and they were all right. All the passengers that were lost from our train, were lost by getting out of the train, not by staying in it, because our cars weren't damaged any. The water was a little in the bottom of them, but that was all.

Q. How deep did the water get down at the foot of this embankm't? [sic]
A. Oh I suppose about six feet.

Q. Did your fireman get away?
A. He just got out, and that was all. He was pretty near caught in it.

Q. Where was your conductor?
A. I don't know where he was.

Q. You didn't see him?
A. No, sir.

Q. Do you know how many people you helped out of your train?
A. Well, I couldn't tell. They got out some at the rear end, some between the two hind slpepers, [sic] and some at the front end, so that I couldn't tell how many.

Q. As soon as you saw the flood coming, you started to give the warning?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you do now, all that you could have done to save the lives of those people?
A. Oh yes, I did all I could of course. I might have started off when I heard it first coming, but I staid and tried to get the passengers and trainmen away.

Q. Can you tell me about how far it is from where your engine stood, to the head of the valley that you spoke of, where the flood spread out?
A. Four or five hundred yards; five hundred, I suppose.

Q. How wide is it from the head of the valley down to where you were?
A. Well, I suppose very near half a mile wide where we were standing; it makes a big sweep and curves around the face of the mountain.

Q. And that entire valley, in front of you, as you describe it, was flooded with the water coming down?
A. Yes, sir, it went up to the third street in Conemaugh---

Q. Those streets run parallel, pretty much with the river?
A. Yes, sir, and it went up to the third street.


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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