The Train Wreckers __HOT__
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The Train Wreckers is a 1905 American silent drama film, directed by Edwin S. Porter showing how the daughter of a railway switchman and lover of a locomotive engineer is defeating outlaws trying to derail a train.
The daughter of a switchman, after having wished good morning to her lover, a locomotive engineer, and brought her father his lunch, overhears a group of outlaws planning to derail her lover's train. The outlaws capture her and tie her to a tree. She manages to escape with the help of her dog and successfully warns the locomotive engineer. Once the track has been cleared and the train has left, the train wreckers come back to knock her out and leave her on the tracks to be run over. The engineer positions himself on the incoming locomotive's cowcatcher and rescues her from certain death. The locomotive is then uncoupled from the train and the railroad personnel chases and overpower the desperados who had fled on a handcar.
The film is composed of 14 wide shots without any intertitles, all shots on location, several shots using camera panning. Cross-cutting and continuity editing are used to show actions developing over several shots in different locations. Shot 12 (see list of shots below) is shown in reverse motion: The train was filmed backing up after the actor playing the engineer had dropped a dummy on the track. This gives the impression that he catches the girl just before she is run over by the train.
9. Same as shot 6. The woman unsuccessfully tries to remove the ties and runs out onto the track. She takes off her petticoat and waves it as a flag to an incoming train, which allows the engineer to stop just before the obstruction. The engineer and some passengers clear the track and thank her before the train leaves again.
12. Same as shot 10. The woman is lying unconscious on the rails while a train is approaching. The engineer crouching on the locomotive's cowcatcher manages to catch her just before she is run over (reverse motion trick).
13. Other view of a train track with the engineer holding the woman in front of the locomotive. The train stops and two engineers come to help their colleagues to hold the woman, still unconscious, while passengers come to their help. The locomotive is uncoupled and steams away while the woman is helped into the train.
In the early days of railroads there was a subset of law breakers called Train Wreckers. They were sometimes involved in union activities, trying to derail a train as part of a labor action, but most often robbery was the motive. The activity inspired hundreds of headlines and at least one stage production.
The three most popular methods of wrecking a train were, first, to take out a trestle, which would send a locomotive plunging. Second, was the removal of frogs, the structure that ties two rail ends together. This could be accompanied by the shifting of at least one of the rails. Third, vandals would put some obstruction on the track, ranging from logs to boulders. Derailing the train was often the result, but simply stopping it would do nearly as well.
In 1890, newspaper readers in the Treasure Valley followed the story of an attempt to wreck the Montreal Express near Albany New York. In 1891, wreckers were foiled when someone found a piece of iron fastened to tracks near Minneapolis. The plotters were caught and confessed they were planning to rob the disabled train.
In September 1892, Passenger Train Number 8 was derailed west of Osage, Missouri. Four men were killed in the attempted robbery of a million dollars on board the train. Thirty-five men, women and children were injured. That same year a train wreck was foiled in Coon Rapids, Iowa. There were alleged Mafia ties to that one.
In 1893, train wreckers bumped the Vandela Express from its tracks near Brazil, Indiana. In February 1894, a train was derailed near Houston, and the wreck robbed in a hail of bullets. That same year there were train wreckers in Colorado and California. And Idaho.
On a September day in 1894, a west-bound train chugged out of Mountain Home across the desert toward Nampa. The train carried passengers, mail and freight. Things were progressing routinely until the engineer squinted into the distance. There was something on the track. That something was moving toward them. It was a handcar with two men aboard pumping furiously into the teeth of the barreling locomotive. The engineer pulled hard on the brake lever, raising a hideous shriek from steel wheels sliding on steel rails.
The sudden action threw passengers from their seats. When the train came to a stop the travelers piled out of the cars to see what was up. Aboard the handcar, now snugged up to the cowcatcher, was the railroad section foreman and a section hand, out of breath from pumping.
In words you are welcome to color with your imagination, the engineer inquired as to the purpose of putting a handcar in the path of a speeding train. In fact, the section foreman had an excellent answer. He had been on a routine inspection of the tracks in his section near Owyhee Station when he noticed that someone had removed the frogs and fish plates to misalign a track section that ran across a gully. The next train to hit that trestle would have plunged 45 feet into the channel with cars piling behind it like loose dominos.
The railroad men had worked feverishly to repair the track before the scheduled train could hit the bad spot. Repaired though it was, the men thought it would be prudent to warn the coming train to take it slow and careful, and not just out of an abundance of caution about the repair. While working to fix the vandalized section, the railroad men had spotted a man on horseback, well-armed, watching their progress from a nearby hilltop.
The slow, careful chug into Nampa with eyeballs examining the rails along the way, was accompanied at one point by the mystery rider. He galloped alongside the train, showing off his rifle in an aggressive way, but never firing a shot. It must have been an act of frustration.
The train rolled away, but the rider pulled up and turned his horse back toward Owyhee station where he found the section foreman and his section hand moving the handcar to a siding. The mystery rider began sending bullets in their direction. The rail men, no fools they, took cover. The bullets left a mark on the handcar, but the men were unharmed. The would-be robber finally rode off.
A woman walks out onto her porch and greets a man dressed in a railroad uniform and carrying a metal lunchbox. She waves as he walks away. Then, in a very interesting shot, we see the woman at work in an office with an overview of the tracks. After a train rushes by, she pulls one of the switches, seemingly a very un-feminine job for the time. The she says goodbye to her boss and his dog and picks up an identical metal lunchbox and walks down the tracks and into the woods. After a brief walk, she comes across a circle of men dressed like hoboes and sitting in the road, vigorously discussing a plan. One of them carries a rope. She hides behind a tree, but another hobo comes up from behind her and grabs her and the others come over and use the rope to tie her to a tree. The dog from the office now runs up and frees her by biting through the ropes. She collects her lunchbox and goes after the men.
Now, the engine is detached from the train and pursues the wreckers, with a man firing a rifle from the cow catcher. They try to return fire with pistols, but it has to be hard to shoot and pump at the same time. Eventually, the train catches up and after a brief gun battle all of the wreckers are killed. The end.
A romance between a railroad engineer and the switchman's daughter is nearly ruined by train wreckers who knock out the girl and leave her on the tracks to be run over. The engineer perches on the engine's cow catcher and rescues the girl.
Especially pleasing is the way that tense moments resolve into ones of beauty: the lady lying senseless on the tracks as the train approaches is lifted up by an engineer riding the cowcatcher, and the two of them drift through the landscape, borne by the locomotive.
The Bostian Bridge train wreck occurred on 27 Aug. 1891, just west of Statesville. The accident took the lives of 23 people, making it one of the worst railroad disasters in North Carolina history. Richmond & Danville Railroad (R&D) engine number 9 left Statesville at approximately 2:30 a.m., pulling six cars: a tender, a baggage car, a second-class car, a first-class coach, a Pullman sleeper, and the private car of the R&D's superintendent. According to station hands, engineer William West was 34 minutes late and left Statesville in a hurry, obviously intending to make up time.
Less than five minutes after leaving Statesville, the train plunged off Bostian Bridge, a 60-foot-high, five-span brick tower bridge crossing Third Creek. Because of its speed-later estimated at 35 to 40 miles per hour by the coroner's jury-the train, according to survivors, was literally airborne when it derailed. The sleeping car hit the ground 153 feet from where it left the bridge.
Four days after the accident, a coroner's inquest concluded that it was caused by unknown persons removing spikes from the rails, though some blamed the track's neglected condition. Inasmuch as the R&D was experiencing financial troubles, officials, fearing huge damage suits, worked feverishly to find the alleged train wreckers. For months, railroad detectives swarmed over the area. Several people were detained and questioned but eventually released. In 1897 two men already in the state penitentiary were convicted of causing the tragedy on the strength of their supposed confessions to other inmates.
On May 9, 1948, at 8:55 P.M., an eastbound train of the Reading Railroad was derailed near the station at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, resulting in the death of the engineer and the fireman of the train. An investigation disclosed that a section of the track had been tampered with and a number of spikes and the plates had been removed from the rail on which the train was travelling. The rear window of a tool house on the Reading Company property had been broken into and a claw bar for pulling railroad spikes and a wrench were missing. 2b1af7f3a8