I found this here:http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/archiv ... 26853.html
True Tales of the Rails
In this issue we’d like to try something a little different and tell you an interesting story about an image in our collection of Boston & Maine Railroad material.
While recently looking through pictures of that railroad’s “Pacific” type steam locomotives, we came across a beautiful shot of #3666 taken at Beverly Depot by our own Harold W. Boothroyd on July 3, 1939. As with many of the locomotive photos he took in the local area, this one is a sharp, well-lighted image which captures a moment from that time, allowing us to study all the details of the train and its surroundings. Very nice, but what makes it unique is the date it was taken. You see, exactly two months and seven days later B&M #3666 would be lost in a tragic accident at Portsmouth, N.H.
Built in 1913 by the American Locomotive Co. in Schenectady, N.Y., #3666 was just one of many similar engines on the B&M’s roster. This class of power operated primarily in passenger service. Nothing unusual happened to this particular locomotive until Sunday evening September 10, 1939. To continue, we quote from an April 1972 article in the 470 Railroad Club newsletter by Kendall Menut of Newburyport, and also from the late Charles P. Smith (former Walker member), of Woburn.
Mr. Menut: “Train 2013 left Boston at 1:30 pm behind engine #3666, a local to Portsmouth, N.H. (which passed through Beverly – ed.). After a short layover at Portsmouth, the #3666 was turned and backed its train of deadhead equipment (now called Train 2021) to North Berwick, ME where the #3666 ran around the train and waited for the arrival of connecting Train 1044, a local passenger train leaving Portland at 6:35 pm for Boston via the Western Route. Passengers from points in Maine destined to Eastern Route points transferred at North Berwick to the waiting train, now numbered Train 2024 in the time-table… a Sunday-only local from North Berwick to Boston.”
Now we quote briefly from a piece in the Portland Press Herald of September 11, 1939:
“As Train 2024 headed for Boston, it passed over the century-old wooden bridge across the Piscataqua River between Kittery, Maine and Portsmouth, N.H. About half way across, the bridge timbers beneath the trestle suddenly gave way and engine #3666, her tender, and the first car of the train plunged into the cold, black 60-foot deep river. As the air brake hoses between the cars parted, the brakes went into emergency, stopping the remaining passenger cars before they could follow the other equipment into the river below. Engineer John Beattie of Somerville and fireman Charles H. Towle of Portland were drowned. There were just 12 passengers on the train, including 3 children and 2 women, plus the conductor, brakeman and a baggagemaster. All were safe in the rear cars and were taken by handcars to the end of the bridge where they transferred to a bus to complete their trip. Fireman Towle’s body was found shortly after the accident, but Beattie’s body would not be found until several days later, far upstream at Dover Point.”
Mr. Smith: “This particular Sunday I was going to take a ride on that train. I got to Lynn too late, and saw Train 2013 going past on the way to Portsmouth. I came back around 9 pm that evening and heard about the train going through the bridge. Then I was glad that I had missed it in the afternoon as I would have been riding in the head coach.
I talked to the conductor, H. K. Staley, a couple of days later. He said they started over the bridge at a slow speed.
All of a sudden the brakes went on and they stopped. He started through the train from the rear car and when he got into the second coach, he started walking ‘downhill’. When he opened the door, there was nothing. All he could hear was the water rushing under him.
While a new bridge was being constructed along-side the old one, a caisson at the new bridge site had dragged its anchor cables and the cables in turn pulled out several bents of the bridge span so that it was unsupported at the time #3666 ran over it.”
Engine #3666 and the coach were never recovered, and to this day lie in their watery grave at Portsmouth. They have not remained there in peace however, being the subject of several attempts to remove them.
The first such attempt came in June, 1940, when, having decided not to try to lift the equipment from the deep swirling currents of the river, a team of divers under the direction of former Massachusetts Institute of Technology instructor Randall Cramer of New York placed copper cables around the locomotive. The idea was that through the process of electrolysis, eventually the #3666 would disintegrate.
This theory was based on early scientist Michael Faraday’s experiments in the 1830s which he wrote up as his “First Law of Electrolysis”. Setting copper near iron on the train in the salt water of the Piscataqua River it was hoped would cause an electrical action similar to that in an ordinary car battery, the water forming an electrotype. The electrical current would pass from the copper wire and plates (cathode) which would gain weight, while the train (anode) would lose weight. The particles that would gather on the copper would drop onto the river bottom, keeping the metal clean and the electrical current active.
This experiment was not successful, and by 1966 the wreck was declared a menace to navigation. A Boston salvage firm was hired to dispose of it, and they elected to simply move it out of the shipping channel rather than remove it from the river. With barges and cranes, the equipment was lifted off the bottom and while suspended below the surface, dragged upstream and toward the shore. It was then unceremoniously dumped back on the muddy bottom. That was not to be the end of the story.
In April 1995 a New Hampshire Port Authority pier project was planned. As it turned out, #3666 seemed to once more be in the path of progress! So it was decided to move her again…this time out of the river entirely, which caused great excitement among the historical community. Hopes later were dashed, however, when Acting Director of the N.H. Port Authority, Tom Orfe, announced, “We’re not going to move it. It’s not within the dredging limits.”
Realizing it would cost $75,000 to lift the engine out of the water, Orfe said they decided the money didn’t need to be spent. “The engine is at least 30 feet below the surface of the water at low tide and 200 feet outside the limits of the project. It would be fun to do, and nice, but I didn’t think we should spend the taxpayer’s money.” Orfe also added, “Removing the engine from the water is the easy part. It hasn’t been determined if the locomotive can be refurbished. I think it’ll be there for a while.”
By now you’re probably saying that this is all very interesting but what’s the connection with us here in Beverly? Well, we feel that Harold Boothroyd probably made the last photograph of the #3666 ever taken before the accident just two months later that year. And he shot it here in Beverly right at the depot. Also, our own former member Charles Smith might have been on the train that night and died along with the engineer and fireman, had he not been late arriving at Lynn.
We hope you enjoyed this true tale of the rails!
Richard W. Symmes