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METZGAR, David


SOURCE NOTATION:
    Johnstown Democrat, 19 Sep 1866, Contributed by Dianne D. O'Shea

Gloom and sadness hangs like a pall over our town-sorrow, mourning and suffering abound. A calamity more sudden and more terrible cannot well be conceived than befell our citizens on last Friday. It was circulated early in the morning that President JOHNSON, General GRANT, Admiral FARRAGUT, and other emminent men, would pass through the town at 10 o'clock, and stop a few minutes at the depot of the Pennsylvania Railroad. A large concourse of our citizens assembled at the station house to see these distinguished servants of the people.

The station house is situated on the south bank of the old Pennsylvania Canal. Immediately north, and in front of the station house, the railroad crosses the Canal diagonally on an iron bridge. Between the station and the rail track, and extending castward over the Canal, was a large wooden structure built by the railroad company for the accommodation of passengers entering and leaving the cars, and taking off and putting on baggage. When the train arrived containing the President and suite, this platform or bridge became densely packed with a solid mass of human beings, old and young, men, women and children. President JOHNSON appeared on the platform of the car being followed by General GRANT, and then by Admiral FARRAGUT, each being received with most hearty cheers.

As FARRAGIT appeared, about 2,150 square feet of the platform or bridge instantly gave way, and precipitated near or quite 1,000 persons into the chasm below-more than twenty feet-on the bed of the Johnstown and Conemaugh Railroad, which runs along the bottom of the old canal. The terrible scene beggars description. The terrible sight language entirely fails to portray. In one mangled mass lay hundreds of human beings beneath the heavy timbers and planks-crushed, mangled, bleeding and dying-calling for help, while mothers, sisters, brothers and fathers that had escaped, ran frantic with doleful lamentations, uncertain of the condition of their friends. We have seen thousands of dead, mangled and dying on many battle-fields, but never before witnessed so heart-rending a scene as this, while assisting in removing the planks and timbers off from and helping to remove the unfortunate.

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