Fireman Miller Statement

Q. Where were you employed on the last day of May last?
A. On the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Q. What were you doing?
A. Firing.

Q. What train?
A. Second Day Express.

Q. About how long had you been running on that train before the flood?
A. Five months.

Q. Who was you engineer?
A. N. B. Henry.

Q. When you got to Johnstown that morning, state what height the water was up in the houses, as near as you can tell.
A. It was pretty near up in the lower stories there along the railroad.

Q. What part of therailroad? [sic]
A. On the side of the railroad. People were in theri [sic] second stories then.

Q. You could see from the engine you were on a considerable distance over Johnstown?
A. Yes, sir, we could see a good bit of it.

Q. About how much of the town was covered with water?
A. That whole flat of Johnstown was covered wi th [sic] back water, on account of damming up there; it couldn't get away, you know.

Q. Was there much drift against the stone bridge, do you know?
A. No, sir.

Q. What backed the water up there then?
A. Nothing more than that it came in there very fast, and Johnstown is very low there.

Q. How long did you stay at Johnstown?
A. I don't just know how long; I suppose twenty or thirty minutes; I didn't look to see how long we staid.

Q. Where did you go to from there?
A. To Conemaugh.

Q. Go on in your own way, and tell me where your train was put., and all that was done.
A. We got orders at Johnstown to follow first section under green from Johnstown to Conemaugh. We pulled to Conemaugh, and first No. 8 was in on the second north track from the main westbound track laying there, and we pulled up to the water plug and filled our tank with water, and then they put up down beside first No. 8. The water commenced to take the tracks out in the yard, and then they came to the conclusion they would fetch us up on the north track in the yard as far as they could get us; they pulled the first train up there, and gave us orders to pull up back of them.

Q. Were you off of your engine and down at the tower?
A. No, sir, I was not. The engineer told me to take charge of the engine; that he was going back along the train; and I staid on the engine.

Q. Where were you when the flood came?
A. I was on the engine until I saw the flood; or about a minute before that, I had got down off the engine and stood up against the front end rail of the engine, and when I saw the flood coming, I went across to the hill; of course, most of the people had gone then.

Q. Were any of the passengers up about your engine before the flood came?
A. Yes, sir, there were quite a number of people came up around the engine.

Q. Were they passengers ? [sic]
A. Yes, sir, some of them. I had seen some of them on the train. When the ballest [sic] train came down there whistling, the engineer came up, and said "Isaac, you had better come along, or you'll get drowned". I told him I didn't think I would, and I staid on the engine, and he went away. I staid right there at the engine until I saw the flood take those houses above the round house, and then I started, and I just got away in time

Q. Now, when you first got up there to Conemaugh, was the water out of its banks?
A. No, sir.

Q. And up until the time the flood came, was the water over the banks?
A. No, sir.

Q. And how far do you suppose your engine was standing from the bank of the river?
A. Indeed I don't know just how far; it was about seven tracks, I guess, anyhow.

Q. About how many yards or feet?
A. It w as thirty yards anyhow. We were on the extreme north track in the yards.

Q. Was it raining during that morning, after you got to Conemaugh?
A. Yes, sir, it rained in showers.

Q. What time was the bridg e [sic] swept away?
A. Just a little before the flood came. I don't suppose it was over half an hour.

Q. Where was that bridge with reference to your train? Above or below it?
A. Below it.

Q. How far below it?
A. About six or eight car lengths; more than that, about ten car lengths.

Q. Was it the water that carried the body of the bridge away?
A. No, sir, the water washed the foundations, and the bridge dropped down; when it went down, the water wasn't up to the iron bridge yet.

Q. How far away was it from the bridge?
A. Well it was about three feet. I judged it from the fact that some of those heavy timbers that would go down, would touch the bridge, and some would go under it.

Q. How long was it from the time you got to Conemaugh until that bridge was swept out?
A. It was quite a little while; an hour or so.

Q. How fast did that volume of water from the dam seem to be coming toward you?
A. Well, it seemed to be coming about twenty or twenty five miles an hour.

Q. How far was it from your engine until you get to the hill where you were safe?
A. About fifty yards.

Q. And you went over that fifty yards after you saw the flood coming?
A. Yes, sir. That i , after the first wave came. There was first a wave of about four feet came along, and then the big wave came.

Q. What did it look like to you?
A. It looked like a big sand hill coming. It was full of drift wood, trees, railroad ties, rails, and everything; it was just black with drift. The water was just as high as the brick wall in the round house. It just swept the walls out, and the roof caved down in.

Q. How high do you suppose those walls were?
A. I don't know; I couldn't say.


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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