0001 HIS VISION FULFILLED NEED DATE SOURCE
[we are talking the 1850s, not the 1950s!]
It was way back in the '50s, when railroading was much more primitive than it is to-day, that a prescient event happened to Engineer Joe Van Netta, of the Northern Cross, now the Quincy branch
of the Burlington system. Trains in those days were not designated by numbers, neither were the engines; conductors, engineers
and brakemen were furnished time cards showing where "passenger train south" would meet "passenger train north," which had the right of way and which would take the "switch." Engines were named
after animals, counties and towns. Who that lived on the line of the "Q" in the '50s and is alive to-day is not familiar with the "Black Bear" and the "Polar Bear?" and on the Northern Cross with the "Fulton," the "Knox," the "McDonough," the "Quincy," the
"Plymouth," "Augusta" and *'Macomb?" Who has forgotten the phlegmatic Cady that pulled the throttle
of the "Plymouth" and when the bridge over Crooked creek was washed away by the heavy spring rains of ‘58 offered to jump the "d—d breach" if they would give him Colmar for a starting point.
It was in the spring of '58 that a new train was scheduled to leave Galesburg at 2:30 a. m. and. Arrived in Quincy at 5:50 a.m., stopping only
at Abingdon, Macomb and Augusta. It was a run of 100 miles, and 30 miles an hour then seemed faster than 70 does to-day.
The night in question was portentous of evil; the rain was pouring in torrents, and the inky blackness of the night only made the headlight shine with greater brilliancy, the thunder was muffled
at times, like the roar of an angry animal, the lightning flashed at frequent intervals and were blinding in effect.
It was Van Netta's "run," and he left a call for. 1:45 and went to his room about nine o'clock, thinking to get as much sleep as the few hours .would allow. After tossing restless for some time
he fell into a disturbed slumber; how long he slept
was uncertain; he woke with a start and feelings terribly agitated. He had had a vision of an accident, in which his youngest brother was horribly mangled; he tried to dispel the fear, but it
was useless; he got up and dressed, looked at his watch and
saw it was 12:30, too near his; call to go back to bed, and started for his train;
reaching the depot, he told his strange dream, or vision, and said “If it was not endangering another life, I would not go out on my run.”
The train from Chicago was pulling into the station and there was the usual turmoil and confusion in changing cars; the train on the Northern Cross was standing on the main track ready to pull
out on schedule time. Van Netta was just coming from the opposite side of his engine, oiler in hand, when Conductor Goodrich called "All aboard" and gave the signal with his lantern to leave. As Joe stepped into the cab,
someone touched him on the shoulder and greeted him with a familiar voice. He turned around and' confronted his youngest, brother, who had just arrived from the east. He was speechless and it was a minute before he was convinced it was not an apparition.
Hardly knowing what he was doing he pulled the throttle and the train was in motion; it was ten miles to Abingdon, the first stop, and quietly turning to his brother he said, "When we get to Abingdon, you get off and take a seat in the rear coach.
The young man pleaded and begged the privilege of riding to Quincy with his brother on the engine, but Joe would listen to no arbitration; his will was absolute, and when the stop was made at Abingdon Henry was sent to the rear coach.
"All aboard" was again rung out in the darkness, and again the dim light from the lantern was signaled to go ahead; an easier feeling took possession of Joe after his brother left the engine,
still the rain was pouring down as if the floodgates of heaven had been opened; St. Augustine was passed and the whistle was sounding
for Avon; both engineer and fireman were straining every optical nerve penetrating the driving rain and the oppressive darkness; Prairie City was left in the dark, and only four miles to Bushnell;
the "Macomb" was being tested as to her merits of speed, and was acting like a restless spirited race horse, fairly quivering under the tender urging of her driver.
Joe was complete master of her erratic ways holding her in perfect control with his hand ever upon, the lever and throttle.
Three miles from Bushnell is Kepple creek; again was he peering into the blackness of the night made angry from the unceasing rain; only a few yards from the engine did the headlight penetrate,
and as the light flashed upon the bridge a whistle for brakes was sounded; it was too late; in another instant the treacherous
bridge was reached, and the engine went plunging, into the chasm 20 feet below.
Van Netta’s body was found in the wreck completely cut in two, his left hand still hold of the throttle.
Conductor Goodrich was badly but not fatally injured, the fireman was instantly killed and the brakeman crippled for life; strange to say,
not a passenger was injured.
“vision” was fulfilled, except the fate of the brother.
You receive all messages sent to this group.