The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it
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  1. #1
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    The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it

    I went to the Ball Watch Co. website and read up on the history and how it described the train accident at Kipton, 25 miles outside of Cleveland Ohio in 1891. How do they know the passenger train engineer's watch stopped working for 4 minutes? That part was a little fuzzy to me. So the passenger train had to make it to a "safe" second parallel line of the track at Kipton to avoid Mail Train #4? But because the passenger train's engineer thought he had time, he didn't make it to the safe line? But why didn't the mail train engineer see that the passenger train hadn't made it to the safe stopping point and proceeded anyway? I suggest we get the NSTB to look into this again. :)


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    Re: The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it

    Poop, you're right. Now I'm going to return my watch.

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    Re: The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it

    Good question about why the mail train didn't stop after finding the sidetrack empty. Or maybe they did stop and then they got rammed by the passenger train before they could back up to the other end of the sidetrack. Trains don't stop quickly, it takes a mile or so. The other question is why did they have such a narrow time margin that 4 minutes was the difference between life/death? Things weren't all that precise in 1891, you'd think they could build in a bit more margin for error while still running a profitable rail service in those days.

    Back in the 1890's what did they use to calibrate their watches? What was the time reference that was known to be 'correct' and how was it distributed to the masses? Not sure how many people had telephones in 1891, maybe they had already deployed the "at the tone, the time will be..." phone service?

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    Re: The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it

    I do not remember when it was, but sometime befote the accident, in years, the time zones were not coordinated.

    That is, the time zone, and the time, in New York City could be radically different than the time zone, and the time in Philedelphia or Cleveland.

    The time might not just be off be a factor of an hour either, but a completely different time reference, including minites. It might be 12:47 pm in NYC and be 9:20 am in Cleveland. There was no integrated reference.

    It sounds like there was no standard for Engineers having their watches regulated, which caused accidents, in addition to the above.

    I believe someone other than Webb C. Ball resolved the time zone and city time reference problems, however it was the accidents which motivated him to establish the Ball standard and have the raulroads certify that their Engineers jad their watches regulated to the standard according to a shedule he laid out. I remember seeing something about the requirement to have watches regulated, or checked for accuracy, at least once every two weeks.

    It's wild to think about how crazy it would be to not have integrated time zones nor a time reference for different cities nor locations.
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    Re: The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it

    time zones were established and standardized in 1883, eight years before the accident. Watches were regulated as per your comments, so the trains were somewhat synchronized, but not perfectly.

    Its wild to think about how crazy it would have been to live before electricity was commonly available, in the same timeframe as the train crash.

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    Re: The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it

    Quote Originally Posted by dwalby View Post
    time zones were established and standardized in 1883, eight years before the accident. Watches were regulated as per your comments, so the trains were somewhat synchronized, but not perfectly.

    Its wild to think about how crazy it would have been to live before electricity was commonly available, in the same timeframe as the train crash.

    Yep, it's also funny, in respect to the travel options we have now, that trains used to be considered the fast way to travel.

    Thanks for the date reference for the establishment of the time zones in the U.S., I knew it was around then, but did not have time to check the reference.

    In around 1938, Britain had a train that travelled at 120 mph.

    Before and during the Civil War, 1860s, people in America were fasciated with death, most likely because many people did not live that long or had their lives cut short.

    Antibiotics only became viable during WWII, they were used on the injured Allied troops during the D-day offensive.


    It's amazing how many things we take for granted in our 'modern' world and how much we do not yet know.

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    Re: The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it

    Feel free to send it to me. I’ll chance it. :)

    Quote Originally Posted by MrBacon View Post
    Poop, you're right. Now I'm going to return my watch.

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    Last edited by Kattywampus; October 25th, 2019 at 02:38. Reason: Emojis didn’t work. :(

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    Re: The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it

    Quote Originally Posted by dwalby View Post
    Good question about why the mail train didn't stop after finding the sidetrack empty. Or maybe they did stop and then they got rammed by the passenger train before they could back up to the other end of the sidetrack. Trains don't stop quickly, it takes a mile or so. The other question is why did they have such a narrow time margin that 4 minutes was the difference between life/death? Things weren't all that precise in 1891, you'd think they could build in a bit more margin for error while still running a profitable rail service in those days.

    Back in the 1890's what did they use to calibrate their watches? What was the time reference that was known to be 'correct' and how was it distributed to the masses? Not sure how many people had telephones in 1891, maybe they had already deployed the "at the tone, the time will be..." phone service?
    My initial guess is the time standard was sent via Telegraph to the major cities.

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    Re: The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it

    Quote Originally Posted by dwalby View Post
    Good question about why the mail train didn't stop after finding the sidetrack empty. Or maybe they did stop and then they got rammed by the passenger train before they could back up to the other end of the sidetrack. Trains don't stop quickly, it takes a mile or so. The other question is why did they have such a narrow time margin that 4 minutes was the difference between life/death? Things weren't all that precise in 1891, you'd think they could build in a bit more margin for error while still running a profitable rail service in those days.

    Back in the 1890's what did they use to calibrate their watches? What was the time reference that was known to be 'correct' and how was it distributed to the masses? Not sure how many people had telephones in 1891, maybe they had already deployed the "at the tone, the time will be..." phone service?

    Excellent point! Trains can’t stop immediately. But if at least one engineer knew they were doomed, why didn’t he jump from his train to save his life?

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    Re: The watch that caused the Train Accident, I don't get it

    Quote Originally Posted by MrBacon View Post
    Poop, you're right. Now I'm going to return my watch.

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    Just send it to me, I will buy that story and also cover the shipping fees.
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