Special thanks to Jim for providing today’s opening line. Jim’s impressive daily blog is a great resource for learning about Pennsylvania, interesting statistics and Dan Ariely. He’s also an impressively consistent commenter, and an accounting professor at Villanova.

____________________________________________________ A steady drone was coming over the receiver from Hortonville.

One of the perks of being a telegraph operator is that there’s plenty of time for books, and on this particular night I was ensconced in a collection of Philippa Foot essays. I was really having a good time, thinking about the moral relatively of trolley cars and people and their perspective conditions in the time-space continuum when the continuous bar of noise started.

Something was clearly not right. I tried to dash out a line to Hortonville, but nothing. I figured something must have fallen on the transmitter or something. The 9:07 had just passed my shack, and would be coming into Hortonville in about 11 minutes. I was sure it would get straightened out then.

I waited about fifteen minutes, but the drone continued unabated.


I turned out the light and went to bed.

The paper the nest day said that the Hortonville operator had died of a heart attack right before he was supposed to throw the switch to stop the 9:47 from Chester and the 10:03 from Cleveland from running into each other. His young son had run out onto the tracks, and gotten crushed by the 9:47. Then the 9:47 and the 10:03 collided, killing everyone on both trains (a total of 231 people.)

I read the paper with curiosity and then returned to my Philippa Foot essays. It’s so interesting when practical philosophical questions play themselves out in the real world.

Photo by Mark Plu00f6tz on Pexels.com


11 thoughts on “ 720:____________________________________________________

  1. My uncle had a dairy farm in Hortonville. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, but it just sounded more interesting in my mind than it did typed out.

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