Monday, October 25

We took the train (2) – Information

That May 11, 1884, in addition to the personalities who arrived at the Orihuela station from Alicante, another commission, headed by the president of the Council of Ministers, Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, left Murcia at nine in the morning in the direction of Orihuela. among a large crowd that came to see him off. At Zeneta and Beniel stations, the train was greeted with the chords of the Royal March and with the firing of fireworks. He was accompanied by his brother Emilio, director of Public Works; Luis Silvela, brother of the former founder of the Andalusian Railways company and then Minister of Grace and Justice, Francisco Silvela; the Marquis de Loring, and other personalities from public life and from the Board of Directors of the railway company, engineers and journalists.

Upon the arrival of the two commissions to the Orcelitan station, various offerings for farmers and orchards took place on the platform; a mass being officiated by Bishop Guisasola on an altar erected for the occasion, followed by the blessing of the station and the locomotives, all decked out with colorful floral motifs and with the French flags -because the railway company with capital French- and Spanish.

The Royal March, executed by a military band, announced the presence at the Orihuela station of the train that led to the president of the Council of Ministers, who was greeting by all those present and with the cheers of the crowd, who also acclaimed the king. with live enthusiasts.

Cánovas del Castillo wore the band of the Legion of Honor on his chest, and thus under the car, he kissed the bishop’s ring, and later, with the rest of the authorities and corporations gathered there, they went to an altar, erected in the vicinity from the station, under a temple, the diocesan prelate proceeded to bless the carriages that were to travel the railway.

After a brief reception in the bishop’s palace, the guests moved to the cloister of the Santo Domingo school, where they planned to have lunch, prepared for this purpose by the Alicante hotelier Pedro Bossio. At 12.30 they took possession of the table, set for more than 300 guests, all diners, with strict etiquette. Under the columns the Orihuela music band, which was joined by two other bandurrias and guitars, enlivened the agape.

At the time of the toast, opened by the Count of Camondo, continued by the other guests and closed by Mr. Cánovas, vows were made for the conclusion of the line to the Gallic country, and for the health of the king – who in those days his tuberculosis status had been made public – and by the entire royal family.

When the feast was over, the retinue drove back to the station by carriage. At 2:30 p.m. the return train started, which had been joined by the bishop and the mayor of Orihuela. The popular clamor accompanied them at the Callosa de Segura station, which appeared adorned with pennants and flags, gathering around it an immense crowd, eager to express their love and veneration for Alfonso XII. The cheers to the king, the head of government and the bishop of Orihuela were repeated by the crowd, whose enthusiasm was fired up by the interpretation of the Royal March with which Antonio Cánovas del Castillo was greeted.

In Albatera – today San Isidro – and under a strong heat, an immense crowd gathered at the station, which sported an arch lined with foliage. Its inhabitants also cheered the monarch. There the train changed the track to travel the journey to Torrevieja. At the beginning of this there was an arch adorned with the productions of the region, artistically intertwined with olive branches and fig branches. The train stopped for several minutes, taking advantage of the neighborhood to pay tribute to the Marquis of the Loring house and the railway company. The procession was dismissed to the sound of the Royal March, being the object of an ovation given by the crowd that spread out on the road to Catral.

The locomotive went to the Almoradí station, where arches of foliage facilitated the passage, reading three inscriptions in the center of the upper part: “Make Progress the Happiness of the Country”, “To the Construction Company” and “To the Ministers of SS. MM. ». Live music and cheers were at the station decked out with flags and pennants.

At the Benijófar, Rojales and Formentera station she appeared adorned with colorful banners and necklaces. A music band, formed in a gazebo built for this purpose, greeted the expedition members with joyous marches topped by the jubilant cheers of the people of Benijofa, the illustrious travelers receiving the expressions of appreciation and sympathy that almost all the neighbors gathered there, leaving then towards Torrevieja.

On the last journey, at the Los Montesinos curve, near the halt, when the unsuspecting travelers were already preparing their things for the disembarkation, suddenly a great trepidation and strange and abrupt movement were felt that clearly indicated that the train had derailed. Six seconds the convoy moved on the ground outside the rails and in that span of time the darkest thoughts invaded the minds of the travelers. At last the locomotive stopped, tilting at an alarming incline, but, happily, there was no personal misfortune to mourn. The passage hit the ground, in the midst of a delightful prospect.

The accident occurred due to the terrible settlement of the road; the lanes were opened by the weight of the convoy, sinking the wheels of the machine and those of some wagons in the gravel, breaking the sleepers and making it impossible to go.

I will continue in fifteen days with the publication of the third and last part of such a hazardous inauguration of the Alicante-Murcia railway line and the Albatera-Torrevieja branch.

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