RIOT AND INCENDIARISM.
THE SWITCHMEN'S STRIKE ASSUMES SERIOUS PROPORTIONS.
OUTRAGES BY THE STRIKING MEN.
Cars Are Burned, Switches Turned and Passenger Trains Derailed—Calling on the Sheriff.
BUFFALO, N. Y., Aug. 14.—There is no further disguising the fact that the strike of the Erie and Lehigh Valley switchmen is a serious matter. Riot and incendiarism mark its tidal wave.
Whether it would have proved so very serious to the railroads to have 150 or 200 men leave their posts of duty without warning is not now the question. Property belonging to the railroad companies has been destroyed by incendiary fires, men engaged in the peaceful performance of their duties in the company's service have been assaulted and sent to the hospitals, the movement of trains has been seriously interfered with, and the lives of innocent persons, who were in no way connected with the strike and had not even heard of it, have been endangered by the derailment of a passenger train on one of the roads. Such is the indictment up to the hour of writing.
There had been more or less trouble Saturday between the strikers and their sympathizers and the men who were doing the striker's work, and a few desultory assaults had occurred.
Things began to put on a more serious appearance at two o'clock this morning, when a series of incendiary fires broke out simultaneously in the Lehigh Valley yards. Eighteen or twenty freight cars filled with wool, cotton, hay and various other merchandise, two passenger coaches and two watchmen's houses were burned. The fires incurred at places where the firemen could not successfully stay the flames on account of absence of water, besides the difficulty of access to the fires. The water tank adjacent to the coal trestles was smashed, and an engine that was taking water there wrecked by a string of ten runaway coal cars that had been turned loose from the trestle. Fire was first discovered in the eastbound yards, east of Dingens street.
Here a little office building and two or three freight cars were destroyed. At this time Yardmaster Mead discovered flames in two passenger coaches used for the conveyance of workmen, and turned in an alarm from William and Dingens streets. In the yards east of Dingens street, fire raged among the cars of merchandise. It took the hose from three carts to reach the flames from the nearest hydrant. The firemen, however, prevented the destruction of a great number of cars, and the loss of perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property. The cars destroyed were in the midst of a great number of other cars. The firemen uncoupled a number of cars and removed them from danger. A dozen or so of cars were thrown from the Lehigh tracks and a similar number from the Erie by misplaced switches.
The first intimation of anything wrong, by the men employed by Mr. Mead watching the company's property, was when the coal cars were set loose and demolished the water tank. Then the fires broke out simultaneously.
Captain Wurtz of the Eleventh precinct, put a force of a dozen officers in the yard as soon at the alarm was given. The officers were unable to find any suspicious characters.
That, briefly, is what had happened up to daylight this morning. But that was only the beginning.
The strikers, or their sympathizers, have pulled pins, turned switches and driven off crews. Three men are at the hospital badly hurt. One was assaulted at three o'clock this morning and another at three o'clock this afternoon. The man who was assaulted at Western New York and Pennsylvania crossing was on his way for the wrecker at the time and was turning a switch. The strikers had turned switches and thrown six cars from his train before that. He was struck on the head and when he was taken to the hospital he was completely dazed and did not know what had occurred. One of the men was assaulted at the passenger station and two at William street.
One of the most cowardly things done was the throwing of switches under passenger train No. 17 at William street at 7:30 o'clock to-night. Two passenger coaches were thrown from the track, but the conductor does not think anybody was hurt, though many were badly frightened.
Fifty men boarded passenger train No. 3 at eleven o'clock this morning and molested the employes, driving them off. The crew finally succeeded in getting the train to the station. The mob took possession of the Seneca street switches three or four times during the day and drove off the signalmen.
In the Lehigh yards at Cheektowaga tonight, the scenes of last night were repeated.
It is plainly intimated by the Erie officials that workmen from the east have been engaged to take the place of the strikers.
Three stalwart policemen were stationed at the landing to the offices of Superintendent Brunn to-day. The strikers say they are determined to win the fight, and they assert the roads are losing heavily by not having men to perform the work of the strikers. They say the Erie is thoroughly demoralized on account of the strike, and that every side track of the Buffalo division is completely blocked.
Two trains of freight cars standing on sidings in Cheektowaga, the railroad suburb of Buffalo, were burned tonight. The Lehigh Valley has called on the sheriff for protection. He sent six deputies to the scene and will swear in fifty more tomorrow morning. The police have yards in seven out of eleven precincts in the city to guard, and all the reserves are called out. The man arrested to-day for assault has been charged with rioting.
FREIGHT TRAFFIC AT A STANDSTILL.
ELMIRA, N. Y., Aug. 14.—The strike of the switchmen inaugurated at Buffalo on the Erie and Lehigh Valley lines, has extended to Waverly and Sayre on the Lehigh, and all freight traffic on that line is at a standstill. A train of beef stands on an Erie siding there, the switchmen refusing to allow it to be switched to the Lehigh tracks to proceed to its destination. The division superintendent of the Lehigh has telegraphed to Owego for the sheriff to come to his aid, although the men are making no demonstration. Tomorrow it is expected that the Erie men will also go out and then all traffic through those towns will be at a standstill. The men are non-communicative and their future movements are unknown.
BUFFALO, Aug. 14.—Later—At one o'clock fire has broke out in three places in the Lehigh yards again simultaneously. The fire department seem unable to quench it. The New York No. 1 (Erie) is held two miles out, because it cannot pass. New York express No. 4 has not been sent out for the same reason.
CARS FIRED AND SWITCH LIGHTS STOLEN.
BUFFALO, N. Y., AUG. 14—2 A. M.—Word has just been received that a train of forty-two cars on the Erie road, filled with hue [sic] merchandise, a mile east of William street, is now burning fiercely with no protection.
At the same time all the switch lights on the Erie, between Smith street and the Western New York and Pennsylvania target, were stolen. It Is impossible to tell how the switches were set. Superintendent Brunn started with an engine and two coaches to bring in the passengers from train No. 1 on the other side of the fire.
At 2:45 o'clock the passengers on the two trains on the Lehigh and Erie roads which had been ditched at William street, near the city line, were brought to the station by Superintendent Brunn's special train. Nobody was injured, but the delay of four hours had been a dreadful experience, which none of them care to repeat.
Superintendent Brunn reports the fire still raging among cars of merchandise in the railroad yards at Cheektowaga, and says the sheriff seems powerless to interfere, though he has called on him to protect the railroad property.
BUFFALO, Aug. 16.—1 A. M.— The Sixty-fifth regiment has just been sent to Cheektowaga to guard the Lehigh and Erie yards the rest of the night.
1:40 A. M.—The Seventy-fourth regiment has been called out to protect the Central and West Shore, it being feared that switchmen on these roads may go out tonight.
BUFFALO, Aug. 16.—The situation in the great railroad strike has been comparatively quiet here to-day since daylight and up to noon.
General Superintendent Bartlett of the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg system was here to-day. The switchmen on that road had asked the same raise as the Lehigh, Erie and Buffalo Creek switchmen. Twice they had demanded a raise and twice had been put off. Today Superintendent Bartlett came here and held a conference. The men are still working and it is understood that he acceded to the raise—from 21 to 23 cents an hour to 23 and 25 cents. Grand Master Sweeney, in an interview on the strike, said: "It has spread to Waverly, and probably to Hornellsville and Bradford, where the switchmen are dissatisfied. It has not spread to any other roads in Buffalo. We have come to an agreement with the Western New York & Pennsylvania on the ten-hour basis, and we have no trouble with that road. A conference with the general superintendent of the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg has been arranged for today. He is coming here and I expect that a settlement on the ten-hour basis will be made." Mr. Sweeney further said that the Erie and Lehigh switchmen here had not been treated in such a way as to keep them in good humor. Their advances had been spurned by those in high authority. "The matter could have been easily settled," Mr. Sweeney said, "if the officials had consented to reason with the men, but instead they tried to bulldoze."
Mr. Sweeney condemned the acts of lawlessness and says that he has assurances from the men on strike that they are not responsible for whit was done, but it was the work of irresponsible individuals who could not be controlled.
The only event that relieved the daylight monotony of events on the Buffalo & Southwestern was a little episode which occurred this afternoon next to Taylor & Crates lumber yard just east of the Elk street crossing. About 4:30 P. M. engine No. 9 was pulling freight train No. 138 into the city when twenty or thirty striking switchmen came up from behind the lumber yard, boarded the train, set the brakes, stalled the train, pulled the coupling pins, threw pins and links into the stagnant pools at the side of tracks and disappeared.
The engineer ran down to the Seneca street crossing, got a new supply of pins and links, and at 5:30 o'clock hauled the train in with a policeman on about every fifth car. The event attracted a large crowd of men, woman and children at the Elk street crossing. A patrol wagon was also stationed at that place. One of the striking railroad men met a representative of the Associated Press near the Seneca street crossing a few minutes before 6 o'clock, and said he would before to-morrow morning prefer charges against these members of the police force, who had boarded a train on the Tifft farm and set the brakes to frustrate the work of the switchmen.
BUFFALO CREEK MEN ORDERED OUT.
The two Buffalo Creek switchmen stationed in the vicinity of Buffalo Creek Junction were ordered out by the union and quit work, one to-day and one Sunday night. Others stationed at Seneca street adopted a like course of action. The only Lehigh Valley train that moved past the Buffalo Creek Junction to-day was a coal train, pulled by engine No. 276, which went out to William street about 3:30 P. M., guarded by eight policemen.
The Nickel Plate succeeded in moving thirty-two cars of live stock from the Lehigh to the Lake Shore tracks, but when the men learned of it this morning they refused to make the cars up in the West Shore trains bound over the Central for New York. Then it was learned that 178 cars of live stock belonging to the Erie and Lehigh were standing on the West Shore tracks. The men thereupon refused to handle them.
Each man was asked separately to go to work on these cars and each, upon refusing, was discharged and sent to get his pay. In consequence of this the Lake Shore switchmen stood in hourly expectation all day of being ordered out by the union.
Everything was quiet all day to-day, up to night, on the island and out on the Tifft farm.
The roads [out] there are the Philadelphia & Reading and Buffalo Creek. The Lehigh Valley is with the Philadelphia & Reading. These are out on the Tifft farm. The Buffalo Creek railroad runs from Williams street to the "powder house" on the island. From there the Western New York & Pennsylvania runs to the connecting terminal railroad which runs down to the lighthouse. There was nothing doing to-day on the Buffalo Creek portion of the island. About twelve or fifteen patrolmen were on duty on the island and also on the Tifft farm.