A WRITER in the Chicago Inter Ocean tells an exciting story as it was told to him by an old railroad engineer. The situation can be best described in the engineer's own words:
"Speaking of experiences of an exciting nature, perhaps in many particulars the narrowest and at the same time the most thrilling escape from a frightful accident happened to me about nineteen or twenty years ago, when I was firing an engine instead of taking charge of one. This adventure occurred on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago, between Fort Wayne and Chicago. My superior, Charles Knotts, was a strong, wiry man, and considerably larger than myself. I had been running with him for about four months, when one day we left Fort Wayne in charge of the locomotive attached to the fast mail for Chicago.
"Suddenly my superior, who had not spoken since we started, jumped from his seat, and, throwing open the furnace-door, stood still for a moment, glaring into the fire, and then, turning savagely upon me, he exclaimed: 'Oh, that's the way, eh?'
"'I guess so,' I replied.
"'It is, eh? I thought so - I thought so. Make up that fire, quick! Heat it up! Heat it up! ' And he commenced to throw shovelful after shovelful of fuel upon the mass of red-hot coals beneath the boiler. Almost immediately the steam-gage indicated an increase of pressure, which was noted complacently by Knotts, who resumed his seat at the lever. Presently he turned, and, glancing at me, said: 'What in the dickens is the matter with you? Didn't I tell you to heat her up? Man, she is freezing to death, can't you see? Heat her up, man, heat her up - heat her up high, man, or, by the living God, I'll throw you in there!
"I threw in a shovelful of coal and attempted to shut the door to the furnace; but he divined my purpose, and, fiercely springing from his seat, he grasped the shovel from my hands and threw in two or three bushels of fuel. My worst fears were realized - the man was a raving maniac. A crazy man at the throttle, and over a hundred lives on the train depending on him to take them safely to their destination.
A few miles ahead was a freight train, and toward that, with lightning speed - for he had turned the throttle wide open - rushed the fast mail. Suddenly the thought of the preceding train came upon me with an appalling rush, and I reached out involuntarily to blow the whistle; but my crazed superior struck down my hand. Our conductor saw that something was wrong, and rang the bell violently. My superior laughed.
"'I see! I see! ' he cried. 'Warm her up-warm her up! I see what is robbing her of heat, but I'll fix that all right - all right! You bet, I'll fix that all right - I'll fix that bell! ' and he dashed from the cab.
"How he ever reached the bell-cord I can't tell. However, he did it, notwithstanding the fact that the engine was swaying so that a man could scarcely retain his footing in the cab. The next instant he tore the cord down and threw it away. Terrified as I was, I possessed enough presence of mind to avail myself of the opportunity thus presented to blow the whistle for brakes. I had scarcely done so when the maniac rushed into the cab and sprang upon me. I grasped a wrench and struck him on the head. The blow only served to heighten his fury, and he made another rush. This time, however, the heavy wrench descended on the maniac's head with a sickening thud, and he fell back into the coal-box insensible. Springing forward, I turned on the air-brakes and reversed the lever.
"The engine was just turning a sharp curve when I caught sight of the freight train again, which seemed within touching distance. I turned to jump from the cab, but before I had reached the door I had swooned. The pilot of the engine, as I ascertained later, was but three inches from the caboose of the freight train when it stopped, and on examination I was found lying on the floor of the cab in an unconscious condition.
"The engineer's body could not be found in the coal-box, and a search was instituted, which resulted in his being found lying beside the track about half a mile from where the engine stopped. He seemed to be as rational as anybody but could not remember a single incident of that fearful night."