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Killed on Tramway

James Tabb Loses Life by Runaway Cars - Inquest censures Tramway Company

Weekly Register-Call
  January 21, 1910

James Tabb of Black Hawk was instantly killed Monday night, near the round house of the Gilpin Railroad company, on North Clear Creek, above Black Hawk.  The accident was caused by the jumping of two loaded cars from the track, carrying Tabb with them, a drop of about twenty-five feet into the gulch below.  Death was undoubtedly instantaneous, as deceased had his neck, back and both legs broken and his body was disemboweled.  The accident happened about seven o'clock that evening, and was the result of deceased bringing down two cars of concentrates from the Anderson mill on Winnebago hill, with nothing but the hand brakes to hold them, and ahead of the regular train, a practice which had been indulged in for some time and fortunately without any resulting accident.   The body of the deceased was first taken into the round house, and Dr. Froid was summoned, but nothing could be done for the unfortunate young man.   The body was found under one of the tramway cars in the gulch, but was free from the car.   It was afterwards taken charge of by Coroner Hamllik and brought to the Harris undertaking establishment to be prepared for burial.

A coroner's jury was impaneled, Tuesday morning by Coroner Hamllik, to determine the responsibility for the accident, and after viewing the remains at the undertaker's, the jury repaired to the City hall.   The witnesses summoned before the jury were Dan Williams, Ray Thompson, Ernest Klein, John Tierney, James Winship, Louis Pircher and Dr. C. M. Froid.  The testimony showed that deceased was employed by the Gilpin Railroad in the capacity of fireman, but that it was customary for him to run down the cars of concentrates from the Anderson mill, on Winnebago hill, ahead of the engine and with nothing but hand brakes to control the speed of the cars.   The cars were taken from the mill at 6:40 o'clock, for deliver to the round house, the end of the days labors.   Evidently Tabb had control of the cars until they reached a point near the Hidden Treasure mill where the grade is steep and at this point it is supposed, that he lost control of the cars, whether through the inefficiency of the brakes or some other cause, which will never be determined.   There is a sudden short curve near the round house and at this place the cars suddenly jumped the track without even showing scarcely any sign that the cars had touched the ties after jumping the track.   Tabb and cars were precipitated from the high wall into the gulch, a drop of 25 feet, and there were no eye witnesses to the accident.   Dan Williams, and some of this family, who lived opposite the scene of the accident thought that some cars had gone over the wall, but could not see plainly, as it was dusk, but investigation showed them and other volunteers that Tabb had lost his life.   When Tabb was taking the cars down, it was estimated that they were traveling at the rate of six or seven miles an hour, and each car held about ten tons of concentrates.   Both trains come on down after Tabb took the two cars, and the track was found to be in good shape and no fault could be found on that score.   A hasty examination showed that one of the brakes was broken on one of the cars lying in the gulch, but as to whether the brake was broken previous to the accident or caused by the fall, could not be determined.   The remaining three brakes were found to be in good working order.  Superintendent Pircher testified that all the brakes were in good working order when the trains were made up in the morning, and that the running down of loaded cars without engines was done with the consent of the representatives of the railroad company and that there had never been any accident from that source.

The inquest did not bring out any real testimony bearing on the accident, and after the examination of the witnesses, the jury decided that they would visit the scene of the accident and determine, if possible, any further facts.  They went to the round house in the afternoon, and after returning and carefully investigating every point, they brought in the following verdict:  That they find that James Tabb came to his death on January 17th, 1910,  at the round house in Black Hawk, Gilpin County, Colorado, through an accident [missing text]  was born in Black Hawk and has one brother, Frank, residing in that city, besides other relatives.   He was a steady and industrious young man quite popular and was a member of Black Hawk Tribe, No. 84, I. O. R. M., and Central City Lodge, No. 557, B. P. O. Elks.   He had been in the employ of the Gilpin Railroad for the past seven months.   The funeral was held yesterday afternoon, from the residence of his brother in Black Hawk, under the auspices of the Red Men and Elks, interment taking place in the I. O. O. F. cemetery.  The funeral was largely attended and the floral offerings were numerous.



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