An Incendiary's Work at the Shop of the Meigs Car Company small—The Superb Passenger Car Greatly Damaged
"An incendiary succeeded in causing a loss of about $10,000 to the Meigs Elevated Railroad Company early this morning. The fire took place at about four o'clock at the car and construction house on Bridge street, East Cambridge, which contained the elevated train. The building, which was simply a low shed, was partially destroyed, but the splendid car, worth about ten thousand dollars, which the building contained, was greatly damaged. This is the car with a rounded roof, designed to present the least possible resistance to the wind. It was fifty-one feet long, with seats for seventy-two passengers, and was not only upholstered in the richest manner, but also was supplied with a variety of conveniences invented by Captain Meigs. The engine and the tender were not materially damaged. The fire was probably set through a crack in the roof of the building. A reward will be offered for the detection of the incendiary. The loss will not greatly impede the work of the company.
The following, which was received this afternoon from Captain Meigs, is of considerable interest:
To the Public—The destruction of our car at 4 A.M. this morning was from the burning of the sheds over the car. The burned upholstering and the slight amount of wood used to attach it to, was all the wood used in the car save the floor. The walls of the car were built of iron and copper, and were unburnable, but not unmeltable. I had supposed when I first heard of the fire that it had originated from a temporary stove which we used under the floor of the car by which to heat it just before we used it, the steam pipes being not yet connected. This stove had no pipe except one which was put on at the time of using, and when the car was warmed the pipe was removed and the fire drawn.
At 6 P.M. of yesterday the master machinist made his inspection of the whole train, and at quarter past six the chief engineer made his inspection, both as usual. The firemen and watchmen visited all parts of the train house and train many times during the night, the watchman keeping fires in the tender and engine so as to prevent freezing of the pipes. These fires were kept all right as usual, showing that the watchman must have made is inspection.
At 4 A.M. he report[ed] that he saw flames issuing from the end of the
car, and that the whole end of the building was in flames. A casual
inspection of the building, which I have had photographed, proves that
his statement is correct, and it is corroborated by the neighbors, and I
am thus pained to be obliged to state that I believe the fire to be of
incendiary character, as do others who have seen it. I am justified in
saying this, because the building No. 89 Court street, in Boston, which
held my models had also been set on fire, and the fire proved to be
incendiary. I had not made the demonstrations and had not secured the
approval of the State engineer there might have been said to be a motive
for my having burned it; but I have no further use for the car in the
world except to use it at demonstrations, and as its wheels and floors
were not roasted, this afternoon, at 3 P.M. temporary seats will be
placed upon the floor, and the engine, tender and car will ascend the
grade to keep an engagement which I had made with certain capitalists.
We are fully insured, and I trust the losses of the insurance company
will be very little.
My thanks are due to the Cambridge fire and police departments for their promptness and efficiency in holding the fire in check."
I am, very truly, Joe V. Meigs.
Source: Daily Evening Transcript, February 4, 1887