The Phantom Train Of Marshall Pass





Soon after the rails were laid across Marshall Pass, Colorado, where they

go over a height of twelve thousand feet above the sea, an old engineer

named Nelson Edwards was assigned to a train. He had travelled the road

with passengers behind him for a couple of months and met with no

accident, but one night as he set off for the divide he fancied that the

silence was deeper, the canon darker, and the air frostier than usual. A

defective rail and an unsafe bridge had been reported that morning, and

he began the long ascent with some misgivings. As he left the first line

of snow-sheds he heard a whistle echoing somewhere among the ice and

rocks, and at the same time the gong in his cab sounded and he applied

the brakes.



The conductor ran up and asked, What did you stop for?



Why did you signal to stop?



I gave no signal. Pull her open and light out, for we've got to pass No.

19 at the switches, and there's a wild train climbing behind us.



Edwards drew the lever, sanded the track, and the heavy train got under

way again; but the whistles behind grew nearer, sounding danger-signals,

and in turning a curve he looked out and saw a train speeding after him

at a rate that must bring it against the rear of his own train if

something were not done. He broke into a sweat as he pulled the throttle

wide open and lunged into a snow-bank. The cars lurched, but the snow was

flung off and the train went roaring through another shed. Here was where

the defective rail had been reported. No matter. A greater danger was

pressing behind. The fireman piled on coal until his clothes were wet

with perspiration, and fire belched from the smoke-stack. The passengers,

too, having been warned of their peril, had dressed themselves and were

anxiously watching at the windows, for talk went among them that a mad

engineer was driving the train behind.



As Edwards crossed the summit he shut off steam and surrendered his train

to the force of gravity. Looking back, he could see by the faint light

from new snow that the driving-wheels on the rear engine were bigger than

his own, and that a tall figure stood atop of the cars and gestured

franticly. At a sharp turn in the track he found the other train but two

hundred yards behind, and as he swept around the curve the engineer who

was chasing him leaned from his window and laughed. His face was like

dough. Snow was falling and had begun to drift in the hollows, but the

trains flew on; bridges shook as they thundered across them; wind

screamed in the ears of the passengers; the suspected bridge was reached;

Edwards's heart was in his throat, but he seemed to clear the chasm by a

bound. Now the switch was in sight, but No. 19 was not there, and as the

brakes were freed the train shot by like a flash. Suddenly a red light

appeared ahead, swinging to and fro on the track. As well be run into

behind as to crash into an obstacle ahead. He heard the whistle of the

pursuing locomotive yelp behind him, yet he reversed the lever and put on

brakes, and for a few seconds lived in a hell of dread.



Hearing no sound, now, he glanced back and saw the wild train almost leap

upon his own--yet just before it touched it the track seemed to spread,

the engine toppled from the bank, the whole train rolled into the canon

and vanished. Edwards shuddered and listened. No cry of hurt men or hiss

of steam came up--nothing but the groan of the wind as it rolled through

the black depth. The lantern ahead, too, had disappeared. Now another

danger impended, and there was no time to linger, for No. 19 might be on

its way ahead if he did not reach the second switch before it moved out.

The mad run was resumed and the second switch was reached in time. As

Edwards was finishing the run to Green River, which he reached in the

morning ahead of schedule, he found written in the frost of his

cab-window these words: A frate train was recked as yu saw. Now that yu

saw it yu will never make another run. The enjine was not ounder control

and four sexshun men wor killed. If yu ever run on this road again yu

will be recked. Edwards quit the road that morning, and returning to

Denver found employment on the Union Pacific. No wreck was discovered

next day in the canon where he had seen it, nor has the phantom train

been in chase of any engineer who has crossed the divide since that

night.





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