F.K. Krauth thought there were enough people in Alameda in 1869 to support a newspaper.
"Our hopes of success are based on material considerations. About five years ago this place was aroused from a state of hibernation by the whistle of a locomotive. The Alameda Railroad Company had finished and stocked a road extending from the bay to Hayward's, a distance of 15 miles. Since that time it has carried an immense amount of freight and over two million five hundred thousand passengers; not an accident has ever occurred to one of these," Krauth proudly wrote in his first issue of his paper, the Encinal, on Sept. 16.
His boast turned to ashes within a couple of months.
On Nov. 14, the unthinkable happened in Alameda, because Bernard Kane got hungry and went to breakfast.
He was later quoted in the San Francisco papers as saying "he'd be damned if he would go without his breakfast."
Kane was the recently hired switchman for the Western Pacific at the Simpson station. On that foggy Sunday morning, while drinking his coffee in the railroad house, Kane assumed that the train he heard was the scheduled Alameda Railroad Co. train. It wasn't. It was a freight train with a load of gravel. The Alameda-bound train was running five minutes late.
When Kane got back to his job, he let the eastbound Western Pacific continue on its way.
The Western Pacific collided with the Alameda train. Thirteen men were killed, and more were injured.
Capt. R. Korwin Pestrowsky was a passenger on the Alameda train. When interviewed by local newspapers, he reported that the train started from Hayward at 8:30 a.m. with clear weather. By the time the train reached San Leandro, it had become very foggy. Pestrowsky was on the third car from the locomotive when he heard a crash.
George Cadwallader, of Sacramento, was on the Western Pacific train. "When the crash occurred I was thrown completely to the rear of the car, amid a pile of seats. All the persons who were killed on our train were in the same car as myself. The smoking car was shot into our car so as to confine all the killed and wounded in a small space in the rear. I found myself on top of a pile of dead and wounded," he said.
The two locomotives landed in Fisher's Creek. The third car of the Western Pacific train had telescoped into the fourth car.
At the coroner's inquest, it was revealed that Kane did not know how to read or write. While he was familiar with the trains' weekday schedules, it was his first Sunday on duty.
Railroad officials in charge of hiring testified that they were fooled into believing that Kane could read and write.
The inquest determined the accident was caused by Kane's gross ignorance and incompetency. He was charged but acquitted a few weeks later.
Krauth's newspaper kept publishing his newspaper until 1888.
Days Gone By appears on Sundays. Contact Nilda Rego at firstname.lastname@example.org.