The Last Spike eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 167 pages of information about The Last Spike.

Of course the whole accident (Lucien being seriously hurt) had to be investigated, and this was the finding of the experts:—­

A tin torpedo left on the rail by a flagman was exploded by the wheel of the hand-car.  A piece of tin flew up, caught Lucien in the neck, making a nasty wound.  Lucien was thrown from the car, when it jumped the track, so violently as to render him unconscious.  Kelly and Burke and Shea, picking themselves up, one after the other, each fainted dead away at the sight of so much blood.

Lucien revived first, took in the situation, loaded the limp bodies, and pulled for home, and that is the true story of the awful wreck on the Pere Marquette.


A young Englishman stood watching a freight train pulling out of a new town, over a new track.  A pinch-bar, left carelessly by a section gang, caught in the cylinder-cock rigging and tore it off.

Swearing softly, the driver climbed down and began the nasty work of disconnecting the disabled machinery.  He was not a machinist.  Not all engine-drivers can put a locomotive together.  In fact the best runners are just runners.  The Englishman stood by and, when he saw the man fumble his wrench, offered a hand.  The driver, with some hesitation, gave him the tools, and in a few minutes the crippled rigging was taken down, nuts replaced, and the rigging passed by the Englishman to the fireman, who threw it up on the rear of the tank.

“Are you a mechanic?” asked the driver.

“Yes, sir,” said the Englishman, standing at least a foot above the engineer.  “There’s a job for me up the road, if I can get there.”

“And you’re out of tallow?”

The Englishman was not quite sure; but he guessed “tallow” was United States for “money,” and said he was short.

“All right,” said the engine-driver; “climb on.”

The fireman was a Dutchman named Martin, and he made the Englishman comfortable; but the Englishman wanted to work.  He wanted to help fire the engine, and Martin showed him how to do it, taking her himself on the hills.  When they pulled into the town of E., the Englishman went over to the round-house and the foreman asked him if he had ever “railroaded.”  He said No, but he was a machinist.  “Well, I don’t want you,” said the foreman, and the Englishman went across to the little eating-stand where the trainmen were having dinner.  Martin moved over and made room for the stranger between himself and his engineer.

“What luck?” asked the latter.

“Hard luck,” was the answer, and without more talk the men hurried on through the meal.

They had to eat dinner and do an hour’s switching in twenty minutes.  That is an easy trick when nobody is looking.  You arrive, eat dinner, then register in.  That is the first the despatcher hears of you at E. You switch twenty minutes and register out.  That is the last the despatcher hears of you at E. You switch another twenty minutes and go.  That is called stealing time; and may the Manager have mercy on you if you’re caught at it, for you’ve got to make up that last twenty minutes before you hit the next station.

Project Gutenberg
The Last Spike from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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