On December 29, 1876, the Pacific Express was battling its way through a blizzard during its evening run from Buffalo to Cleveland. The train consisted of two engines, named Socrates and Columbia, hauling 11 railcars and 159 passengers and crew.
At 7:30 p.m., as the train crossed the Ashtabula Bridge, the passengers heard a mighty crack and the world began to collapse around them. The engineer of the lead locomotive heard it too, and gave Socrates full steam as it approached the end of the bridge. Socrates made it across, but the coupling behind tore free as the bridge collapsed, taking the rest of the train with it.
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