Twisted Rails, Sunken Ships : The Rhetoric of Nineteenth Century Steamboat and Railroad Accident Investigation Reports, 1833-1879 book cover
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Twisted Rails, Sunken Ships
The Rhetoric of Nineteenth Century Steamboat and Railroad Accident Investigation Reports, 1833-1879





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ISBN 9780415784795
September 30, 2020 Forthcoming by Routledge
286 Pages

 
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Book Description

Contemporary disaster investigation reports into the Shuttle, Three Mile Island, or the World Trade Centre did not happen by chance, but were the result of an evolution of the discourse communities involved with investigating technological accidents. The relationships of private companies, coroners, outside experts, and government investigators all had to be developed and experimented with before a genre of investigation reports could exist. This book is the story of the evolution of these investigation discourse communities in published reports written between 1833 and 1879. Using the reports generated by seven different accidents on railroads and steamboats between 1833 and 1876, it is possible to observe the changes in how these reports interacted and changed over the course of the nineteenth century: The Explosion of the Steamboat New England in the Connecticut River, 1833; The Explosion of the Locomotive Engine Richmond near Reading Pennsylvania, 1844; The Explosion of the Steam Boat Moselle in Cincinatti, 1838; The Camden and Amboy Railroad Collision in Burlington, New Jersey, 1855; The Gasconade Bridge Collapse on the Pacific Railroad in Missouri, 1855; The Eastern Railroad Collision in Revere, Massachusetts, 1871; The Ashtabula Railroad Bridge Collapse in Ohio, 1876

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Dance of Nineteenth Century Steamboat and Railroad Accident Investigation Reports

 Two 1911 ICC Reports
 Shifts in America Affecting Accident Investigation Reports
 Three Shifts in the Discourse Community

PART ONE: USING SCIENCE AS A CORPORATE DEFENSE

 Chapter 1: The Collaboration of Science and the Corporations Takes Center Stage While the Coroner's Jury is Befuddled by Complexity
 The Accident-The Explosion of the Steam Boat New England, October 9, 1883
 The Coroner's Jury Investigation
 The Company Investigation Report Exonerates Its Actions Using Science
 Establishing a Scientific Ethos for the Investigation Report
 Dispositio (Arrangement) as a Means of Persuasion in the Investigation Report
 "Outside Experts" Give Their Findings . . . But Not Very Persuasively Other "Outside Experts" Offer Their Critical Comments, But Much Later
 In the End

Chapter 2: Science for Sale
 The Accident-Explosion of the Locomotive Engine Richmond near Reading, Penna. on the 2nd of September 1844
 The Coroner's Jury Verdict-Act of God or an Act of Man
 The Shaky Scientific Ethos of Dionysus Lardner
 Needing to Present Both Sides when Lardner Declaims
 Committee on Science and the Arts Report
 In the End

PART TWO: PUBLICITY, POLITICAL PRESSURE, AND EMOTIONAL INVOLVEMENT BY AUTHORS TRANSFORM DISASTER INVESTIGATIONS

 Chapter 3: Publicity, Politics, and Emotions Enter the Investigation Constellation-The Steamboat Moselle Explosion, Spring 1838  The Steamboat Moselle Explosion on the Cincinnati Waterfront Cincinnati in the 1830s: Frontier Law and Order
 Political Control of the Investigation Locke's Highly Charged Personal Emotional Involvement in the Investigation
 How Locke Used Silliman's Report
 The Beginning of a New Approach to Accident Investigation
 In the End

Chapter 4: What Happens When the Scientific Ethos is Missing in Investigation Reports: The Camden and Amboy Railroad Disaster, 29 of August 1855
 Railroad Dangers
 The Joint Companies (the Camden and Amboy Railroad and the Delaware and Raritan Canal) and Commodore Robert F. Stockton
 The Coroner's Jury Verdict
 The Joint Companies Try to Exonerate their Actions but Meet with Disdain
 The Franklin Institute Scientists Offer a Sermon, Not Science The Stockton-Van Rensselaer Controversy
 In the End

Chapter 5: The Gasconade Bridge Accident, November 2, 1855
 A Celebration with Political Effects
 Railroad Truss Bridges
 Unfinished Bridges were Routinely Used
 The Accident
 The Coroner's Inquest
 The Press Weighs In
 The Company's Report-Does Not Fully Exonerate the Company
 Henry Kayser-A Critical Scientific Voice of the Company
 Julius Adams's Rebuttal
 In the End

PART THREE: THE ANTEBELLUM PERIOD OF DISASTER INVESTIGATION: TRANSFORMATION ENDS AND A CONSTELLATION OF ROLES AND REPORTS BECOMES NORMAL
 The Role of the Newspapers in the Investigative Process
 International Influences in the United States Investigative Process

Chapter 6: The Eastern Railroad Accident at Revere, Massachusetts, August 26, 1871
 The Accident
 Instant Analysis, The Railroad Gazette, September 2, 1871
 Coroner's Jury Verdict, September 10
 Report of the Committee of the Directors, October 20, 1871, and "Justice" in the American Railroad Times, October 21 to December 23
 The Massachusetts Railroad Commission Report, January 1872
 Charles Francis Adams, Jr.'s Account of the Revere Accident, Atlantic Monthly, January 1876
 In the End

Chapter 7: The Ashtabula Railroad Disaster, December 29, 1876- The State and the Professionals Take Over
 Four Variations on the Tried-and-True Howe Truss Design
 The Accident
 The Investigations
 Three Unique Investigations
 In the End-Move toward Legislative Action

Chapter 8: Notes on Railroad Accidents
 A Railroad Philosopher
 Contemporary Reviews of Notes on Railroad Accidents
 Rhetorical Element One: "Thrilling Incidents"
 Rhetorical Element Two: "Accident Taxonomy"
 Rhetorical Element Three: "Statistics"
 Rhetorical Element Four: "Scientific Analysis"
 The Impact of Notes on Railroad Accidents

Glossary
 Index

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Author(s)

Biography

John Brockman has been a member of the English Department, Concentration in Business and Technical Writing, University of Delaware, for 20 years.