On This Day in History: October 22

The Montparnasse Train Derailment

Today’s audio is free for everyone so all can hear me butcher an Australian accent. Listen here.

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Fail videos are popular, especially with added Australian-accented sweary commentary. We love to point at an image of some catastrophe and say, “Ha ha you done fucked up.” It’s nothing new. It’s been around since the invention of the camera. The best such example of the 19th century was this fucking train.

--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: October 22, 1895--

It happened on October 22, 1895, in Paris. I took a train through the Chunnel into Paris and almost fucked up by nearly falling for one of those taxi scams, but that would have paled in comparison to this level of fail.

It happened at the Montparnasse train station, when a train from Granville, which is on the coast in the region of Normandy, was in just a wee bit too much of a hurry. You know when you’re running late so you decide to drive faster to make up for lost time? Yeah, that kind of shit kills people.

That’s what the train driver did. The train was several minutes behind schedule, so he was hitting the gas, or steam—however the fuck you make an old-timey locomotive go faster—and also seemed to have forgotten that the train possessed air brakes, because he failed to apply them and old locomotive #721 with its 131 passengers plowed through the bumper barricade, traveled across a hundred feet of station concourse, and crashed through a two-foot stone wall to nose dive into the street below.

No one died. On the train, that is. A woman in the street below took a train to the face. Actually, it was falling masonry that killed her, but dead is dead. Should have been her husband. It was her husband’s news stand where she was holding down the fort while he went to get the evening papers to sell. He returned to his news stand with what I’m sure was a “What the fucking fuck?” expression on his face.

The train driver got two months in prison and was fined the modern equivalent of about a thousand bucks. The train company paid a settlement to the family of the dead woman and agreed to pay for the education of her two children and even said hey when they grow up we’ll give them jobs with our train company that killed their mom. Fuckin’ sweet!

It was an ordeal to lower the train to the street, but once accomplished they discovered it had suffered remarkably little damage. In the meantime, plenty of photos were snapped, including the one shown here, which became one of the most famous images of transportation fuck-ups in history.

Feel free to read this part in an Australian accent. Oi the train’s comin’ in too fast and what the fuck are air brakes and ah shit through the barrier and through the fuckin’ wall and ah shit it’s destination fucked! 

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