TRAINMEN have few superstitions, but the few they have they cling to closely. Thirteen, of course, is a number to be avoided. Few engineers can be found who will willingly take out a new engine for her trial trip on the thirteenth of the month, and Friday is equally unpopular as a day for beginning a locomotive's career.
Another fixed belief of the trainmen is in the existence of "hoodoo" engines.
There was a famous instance some years ago on the South Florida Railway. A locomotive killed so many people that she gained the name of "The Hearse," and no fewer than three engine-drivers actually left the employ of the company rather than continue driving her. The odd thing was that she never seemed to injure herself. Eventually her owners were forced to break her up.
Another "hoodoo" is described by E. K. Carnes, now superintendent of the Missouri Pacific terminals in Kansas City. In 1876 Carnes was conductor of a train on the Ohio and Mississippi, of which Number 13 was one of the engines.
Henry Fowler was the engineer, a very religious man. Elijah Morris was the fireman, and about as profane a railroader as ever shoveled coal into a fire-box.
"Morris hated that '13' as bad as he hated short pay," Mr. Carnes said. "'Why, she's nothing hut an old thrasher, and some day she'll pile us all in the ditch,' Morris used to complain. On the other hand, Fowler, the engineer, was proud of her, and gave his '13' as much care as he gave his wife.
"Day by day, Morris's hatred of '13' grew. We used to accuse him of being afraid, but he denied it. One day, after an unusually tough lot of work, we pulled into Vincennes, Indiana, and ran the engine to the road-house. Fowler got off and looked his '13' over with care. He rubbed a little grease off here, a little dirt there.
"Morris stood at one side and watched. He got hold of a bottle of whisky, too, and took several drinks. Then he went hack to the engine, slipped into the cab, and yelled to Fowler:
"'Lookout, Henry! Here goes the last of "13."'
"He pulled the throttle wide open and leaped from the engine. The machine gave a backward bound, and landed upside down in the pit, at the rear of the turn-table. Her smoke-stack was crushed, her cab torn loose, one side-rod was broken, and she was truly wrecked. Morris's hatred had got the better of him."
It is a curious belief of many trainmen that it brings good luck to carry a lantern belonging to another road, and they will frequently trade a brand-new, shining lantern for a greasy, battered wreck, if the latter belongs to a foreign line.