ON THE WITNESS STAND

These items are quotes from railroad employees who were called upon to provide testimony in railroad accidents.

A railroad switchman was describing a head on collision he witnessed. One of the lawyers ask what went through his mind as he saw the two trains coming together. He said, "This is one helluva way to run a railroad!"


On a section of track jointly operated by two railroads, there was a rear end collision. The engineer on the second train claimed he was not flagged to stop before the leading train. The flagman of the first train said he had walked back the prescribed distance and swung his lanterns vigorously to stop the second train. The flagman was so sincere in his testimony that the jury found in favor of his railroad. After the case was closed, one of the lawyers complimented the flagman about his clear testimony and his ability to not be confused by the other railroad lawyers. The flagman said, "...all I did was stick to the truth. But, I was afraid he was going to ask if the lanterns were lit."


At a wreck investigation, a brakeman was describing his version of the wreck: "The con was filipping the tissue in the doghouse; the hind shack was freezing a hot tub, near the hind end; tallow pot was cracking diamonds in the tank; Eagle Eye was down greasing the pig; and I was bending the rails when they hit us." Under cross-examination this was translated to mean that the conductor was examining his orders in the cupola (of the caboose). The rear brakeman was cooling off a journal (bearing on which the axle rests). The fireman was breaking coal. The engineer was oiling the engine, and the head brakeman was throwing a switch, when the collision took place.



Adapted from "A Treasury of RAILROAD FOLKLORE" - 1953
2004 by Joseph D. Korman