Crash, boom, disaster

Elevated crash in old Boston

The folks at the Boston City Archives wonder if you can place this old elevated disaster. See it larger.





Summer Street

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Adam covered it on the 100th anniversary. It was at night, and the train went into the Channel.

...and that was a straight

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...and that was a straight run, not a curve.

This one is wild. The car ended up at right angles to the track.


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Beach and Harrison streets

Chinatown 1928

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Beach Street at Harrison Avenue, on the Atlantic Avenue Elevated line, July 22, 1928.

I take my earlier comment back...

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Eeka is correct... Dudley station, August 4, 1910. The train was coming from Forest Hills with no passengers, only the motorman, who was killed.

An easy way to tell is that only a single track is shown, since it was on the south leg of the original loop at Dudley. The Chinatown accident was on a double-track section.

Good to hear from Eeka, by the way!!


Original Dudley Loop

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This is the original Dudley St Station Loop. Trains outbound circled the station and stopped at the "big" platform that allowed doors to open on both sides when the line was in its infancy.

When the extension to Forest Hills was added, they added the outbound platform that connected the main station via a long pedestrian walkway and rebuilt the loop area.

The loop was retained but barely used after the extension to Forest Hills was opened. In the years immediately preceding the "el's closure, the loop sections were removed and replaced with standard rail.

For The Curious...

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The only fatality of this wreck was the motorman, Thomas Manning. Before working on the Elevated Division he had been a streetcar motorman out of Division Five {South Boston}. He was "running light" from Forest Hills to the Guild Street Shops. The final words he is attested to have ever said to another person were: "I think she has." {Someone at Forest Hills had asked him if he thought his train had flat spots on its wheels before he rolled out.} It seems he became incapacitated at some point after leaving Forest Hills. The towerman at Interlocking Tower F {from which this photo was taken; and still present at Dudley in a different location} was startled to see Manning's train roaring towards the Dudley curve. Under typical conditions the train would have been eased up to Dudley, the switches for the move into Guild Street would have been set up and Manning would have changed ends to move into the yard.

The investigation ruled out intoxication and mechanical malfunction. Immediately thereafter the El mandated all trains making such light moves were to always have at least two people aboard.

Amazingly, over the nearly 87 years of operation, this was one of just three major accidents on the elevated.


It's a glass plate negative

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The aspect ratio matches that of a quarter-plate negative, which is 4.25" by 3.25". Assuming that's what it is, even a modern professional digital medium-frame camera shooting 50MP probably has less data than that negative; possibly vastly less.

Online sources suggest that a frame of 135 format film (35mm) has the equivalent of 15-25MP of data. A quarter plate is 10x larger by area, so we'd be looking at 150-250 MP worth of data.

I'm doing a lot of handwaving going on with regards to the emulsion technology and lens technology changing over the last 100 years (and I'm ignoring issues of actual resolution; given you can see the detail on the men's faces, it's obviously quite good), but you'd be hard pressed to do worse than 50MP with a negative of that size.

Thanks for the info, that's

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Thanks for the info, that's very interesting! Especially considering a modern 50MP would still contain vastly less information than this negative. Fascinating stuff.

The Answer

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Thanks for playing, folks! Those of you who guessed the August 4, 1910 derailment at Dudley Station are correct. This photograph is from our Boston Elevated Railway collection.