Amputations occurred all too commonly on the railroads, as these illustrations (above) from Dr. Herrick’s textbook remind us. These represent a small sample of the many unfortunate injuries he depicted. The link-and-pin coupler (below) caused many of these injuries. Notice the brakeman stands right between the two rail cars as the locomotive pushes them together. He had to hold the link up and guide it into position in the slot, then jump out of the way before they got too close.
Source: Herrick, Clinton B. Railway Surgery: A Handbook on the Management of Injuries. New York: William Wood and Co., 1899
Railway injuries generated a large amount of business for artificial limb manufacturers such as A. A. Marks, which advertised heavily in The Railway Surgeon. The advertisements listed many railroads using their products, and included illustrations (sometimes of dubious credibility) showing persons with two prosthetic legs working in strenuous railroad occupations or walking on a tightrope. The automatic coupler, developed in the late 19th century, allowed “hands off” coupling and greatly reduced these types of injuries.
The J. I. Lyons company displayed this exhibit (above) at the 10th Annual Convention of the National Association of Railway Surgeons in Chicago.
The Railway Surgeon, vol. 3 no. 27, 6 May 1897
The Railway Surgeon, vol. 3 no. 25(supp1), 4 May 1897
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