List of rail accidents (before 1880)

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17th century[edit]

1650[edit]

  • 1650, – United KingdomWhickham, County Durham. Two boys die when they are run down by a wagon on a wooden coal tramway. While such tramway accidents are not generally listed as rail accidents (note the lack of accidents listed for the next 150 years) this is sometimes cited as the earliest known railway accident.[1]

1810s[edit]

1813[edit]

  • 1813, February – United Kingdom – A 13-year-old boy named Jeff Bruce was killed whilst running alongside the Middleton Railway tracks. Leeds Mercury reported that this would "operate as a warning to others".[2]

1815[edit]

1818[edit]

  • 1818, February 28 – United Kingdom – The driver is killed on the Middleton Railway in Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire when Salamanca's boiler explodes, as a result of the force of the explosion, he was "carried, with great violence, into an adjoining field the distance of one hundred yards."[3] "This was the result of the driver tampering with the safety valves."

1820s[edit]

1821[edit]

  • December 5, 1821 – United Kingdom – David Brook, a carpenter, is walking home from Leeds, Yorkshire along the Middleton Railway in a sleet storm when he is run over, with fatal results, by the steam engine of a coal train.[4]

1827[edit]

  • 1827 – United Kingdom – An unnamed woman from Eaglescliffe, County Durham, England (believed to have been a blind beggar woman) is "killed by the steam machine on the railway". This is said to be the first case of a woman being killed in a railway collision.[5]

1828[edit]

1830s[edit]

1830[edit]

1831[edit]

1833[edit]

1834[edit]

1836[edit]

  • October 2, 1836 – United States – A broken axle of a Cincinnati bound train throws a woman and a child onto the track where they are both dragged and ran over. The woman perishes, but the child manages to survive.[10]
  • October 11, 1836 – France – An employee of the line from Saint-Étienne to Lyon falls on a track and is decapitated by a train. The first train accident in France.[11]

1837[edit]

Suffolk, Virginia collision
  • August 11, 1837 – United States – The first head-on collision to result in passenger fatalities occurs on the Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad near Suffolk, Virginia when an eastbound lumber train coming down a grade at speed rounds a sharp curve and smashes into the morning passenger train from Portsmouth, Virginia. The first three of the thirteen stagecoach-style cars are smashed, killing three daughters of the prominent Ely family and injuring dozens of the 200 on board. They are returning from a steamboat cruise when the accident happened. An engraving depicting the moment of impact was published in Howland's Steamboat Disasters and Railroad Accidents in 1840.[citation needed]

1838[edit]

1839[edit]

  • February 2, 1839 – United Kingdom – Charlotte Carrad was killed by a train heading for Slough on the Great Western Railway, 8 months after this section, the first of the GWR, had opened. She was trying to cross the track at Langley to pick turnip tops in a field. She'd seen the train, Hurricane, with 3 carriages, coming at about 18 miles an hour but hurried down the public footpath to get across the track. She reached the further rail when the engine struck her on the shoulder. Her friend, who was with her, found her in the ditch on the other side of the track. There was a little sign life, but she died a minute or two later, her neck vertebra having been dislocated. [12]

1840s[edit]

1840[edit]

1841[edit]

  • October 5, 1841, – United States – Two Western Railroad passenger trains are in a head-on collision between Worcester, Massachusetts and Albany, New York. A conductor and a passenger are killed and seventeen passengers are injured.[16]
  • December 24, 1841 – United Kingdom – Nine passengers are killed and seventeen are injured when a Great Western Railway Paddington to Bristol train runs into a landslide in Sonning Cutting. The extent of the casualties in this accident calls into question the practice of mixing passenger and freight wagons in fast trains. The dead are stonemasons travelling in open wagons; they have no protection from either accidents or the weather, and the accident leads to a public outcry, and new legislation which insists on better carriages for passengers.

1842[edit]

Versailles train disaster

1843[edit]

  • 1843 – United Kingdom – A collision between two North Midland Railway trains at Barnsley, Yorkshire killed one person. The only passenger to be killed travelling by train in the United Kingdom that year.[17]
  • 1843 – United Kingdom – A locomotive boiler explosion on the Hartlepool Railway kills one person, a member of the public travelling illegally on the footplate.[18]

1844[edit]

1845[edit]

1846[edit]

  • January 20, 1846 – United Kingdom – A bridge over the River Medway between Tonbridge and Penshurst, Kent, England, collapses while a freight train is passing over it. The driver is killed.[22]
  • July 9, 1846 – United Kingdom – a clarence engine standing in a branch line of the Stockton and Darlington Railway suddenly began to move down the incline, it collided with some waggons of another clarence engine. Four men were crushed between the carriages and were severely injured. One died at the scene.[citation needed]
  • November 20, 1846 – United Kingdom – During the construction of the Blackburn, Darwen and Bolton Railway, the boiler of ex-Stockton and Darlington Railway locomotive No. 18 Shildon explodes at Sough, Lancashire.[23]
  • November 23, 1846 – United Kingdom – Elizabeth Coleman, aged eleven years, was killed on the Eastern Counties Railway. The deceased was, it appeared, endeavouring to cross the line at a point near the Roydon station where the Lockroad crosses the line on a level, when she was struck by the buffer of a Cambridge train, and killed upon the spot. The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death."[24]

1847[edit]

The Dee bridge after its collapse
  • May 24, 1847 – United KingdomDee bridge disaster - Five passengers are killed and nine are injured when the carriages of a Chester to Ruabon train falls 50 feet (15 m) into the River Dee following the collapse of a bridge. One of the supporting cast-iron girders had cracked in the centre and given way. The locomotive and tender manage to reach the other side of the bridge, which was engineered by Robert Stephenson. The accident causes his reputation to be questioned. The collapse leads to a re-evaluation of the use of cast-iron in railway bridges; many bridges have to be demolished or reinforced.
  • 28 June 1847 – United Kingdom – A North Union Railway locomotive suffers a boiler explosion, injuring one person.[25]

1848[edit]

  • April 25, 1848 – United Kingdom – The boiler of a North Midland Railway locomotive explodes at Normanton, Derbyshire, scalding three people.[25]
  • May 10, 1848 – United Kingdom – Six passengers are killed and thirteen are injured at Shrivenham, Berkshire when a Great Western Railway express train runs into two wagons on the line. The horse-box and cattle van had been pushed onto the main line by two porters to free a wagon turntable. Although the locomotive was undamaged, the side of the leading carriage was torn out.[26]

1849[edit]

  • Whitsuntide 1849 – United Kingdom – An East Lancashire Railway passenger train is in a rear-end collision with an excursion train. Despite efforts to protect its rear, another excursion train is in a rear-end collision with the passenger train.[27]
  • June 27, 1849 – United Kingdom – The boiler of Great Western Railway locomotive Goliah explodes whilst it is hauling a freight train on the South Devon Railway at Plympton, Devon. One person is killed.[28]

1850s[edit]

1850[edit]

1851[edit]

1852[edit]

1853[edit]

  • January 6, 1853 –United States – A train carrying President-elect Franklin Pierce, his wife Jane and their son Benjamin derailed and toppled off an embankment near Andover, MA. Franklin and Jane suffered minor injuries, but their son Benjamin was killed.[citation needed]
Norwalk River, Connecticut.

1854[edit]

1855[edit]

  • August 29, 1855 – United States – A southbound Camden and Amboy Rail Road passenger train, backing up on a single track near Burlington, New Jersey, to make room for a northbound express, hit a horse-drawn carriage. The rearmost passenger car derailed, and the succeeding cars crashed into it, derailed, and plunged into a ditch. All four passengers cars were demolished. Twenty-four people died, and between 65 and 100 were injured.[46]
  • November 1, 1855 – United StatesGasconade Bridge train disaster - A bridge over the Gasconade River at Gasconade, Missouri collapses under a Pacific Railroad excursion train during the celebrations of the line's opening. Thirty-one people are killed and hundreds are seriously injured.
  • September 12, 1855 – United Kingdom – A light engine is dispatched from Reading on the wrong line and is in a head-on collision with a South Eastern Railway passenger train. Four people are killed, many are injured. [45]
  • December 15, 1855 – United States – The boiler of the New York Central Railroad locomotive Dewitt Clinton explodes, killing the engineer and fireman.[47]
  • 1855 – United Kingdom – A South Eastern Raileway train is derailed at Bricklayers' Arms Junction, Surrey when a pointsman moves a set of points under it.[45]

1856[edit]

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

1857[edit]

1858[edit]

  • May 11, 1858 – United States – A bridge some 3 miles from Utica, New York gave way when two trains, including a New York Central express bound for Cincinnati, passed over it. Nine passengers died, including some who drowned, and fifty were injured.[50]
  • May 15, 1858 – United States – A Lafayette & Indianapolis Railroad train accident on a 120-foot bridge over Potato Creek, about 17 miles southeast of Lafayette near Colfax, IN. The engineer, Jacob Beitinger (Beidinger), the fireman, Patrick Maloney (Moloney), and conductor James W. Irwin were killed.[51][52]
  • June 30, 1858 – United Kingdom – A South Eastern Railway passenger train is derailed at Chilham, Kent. Three people are killed.[45]
  • August 11, 1858 – United Kingdom – A passenger train runs into the buffers ar Ramsgate Town station, Kent. Twenty people are injured.[45]
Round Oak.

1859[edit]

South Bend, Indiana.

1860s[edit]

1860[edit]

1861[edit]

Wootton bridge after the crash

1862[edit]

1863[edit]

  • February 19, 1863 – United StatesChunky Creek Train Wreck - The Hercules on the Southern Rail Road crashes into the Chunky River in Newton County, Mississippi. The train was headed for Vicksburg where Confederate forces were in need of reinforcements. The Hercules derailed on a damaged bridge and fell into the cold murky depths. At least 40 passengers were killed. Some victims were rescued by soldiers from the 1st Choctaw Battalion who were camped nearby.

1864[edit]

Immigrant train runs through an open swing bridge near Beloeil, Quebec.
  • June 29, 1864 – CanadaSt-Hilaire train disaster - An immigrant train fails to stop at a danger signal and attempts to cross an open swing bridge and falls into the Richelieu River at Beloeil, Quebec. Ninety-nine people are killed and 100 are injured. As of 2019 this still stands as the rail accident with the largest death toll in Canada.
  • July 15, 1864 – United StatesShohola train wreck - An Erie Railroad passenger train carrying Confederate prisoners-of-war is in a head-on collision with a coal train near Shohola Township, Pennsylvania due to a dispatcher's error. Between 60 and 72 people are killed (official toll is 65 killed).
  • August 16, 1864 – United States – An Erie Railroad freight train runs into the rear of a passenger train between Turner's Station and Sloatsburg, New York. A third train runs into the wreckage. Seven people are killed.[56]
  • September 21, 1864 – United States – A Pennsylvania Railroad passenger train runs into the rear of a stopped freight train at Thompsontown, Pennsylvania. The wreckage then catches fire. At least six people are killed and thirteen are injured.[57][58]
  • December 16, 1864 – United Kingdom – A South Eastern Railway ballast train becomes divided inside Blackheath Tunnel, Kent. An express passenger train runs into the rear portion, killing five people.[45]

1865[edit]

  • May 12, 1865 – United Kingdom – An accident occurred on the Irish North Western railway near Enniskillen. A goods train left Derry and ran off the rails. The engine driver J.McCabe and the stoker, C.Craven were killed. Some bullocks in a waggon were also killed.'[59]
  • June 7, 1865 – United KingdomRednal rail crash - A Great Western Railway excursion train is derailed at Rednal, Shropshire due to excessive speed on track under maintenance. Thirteen people are killed and 30 are injured.
Crash scene after the Staplehurst accident

1866[edit]

  • April 30, 1866 – United Kingdom – A South Eastern Railway passenger train collides with some goods wagons at Caterham Junction, Surrey due to a signalman's error. Four people are killed.[60]
  • August 27, 1866 – United States – A boiler explosion on the Petaluma and Haystack Railroad at Petaluma Station kills the engineer and three others, and wrecks the railroad's only locomotive.[61]
  • December 19, 1866 – United Kingdom – During the construction of the new Smithfield Market building adjacent to an open-air section of the Metropolitan Railway in London, a girder falls onto a passing train and 3 passengers are killed. This is the first fatal accident to an underground train.[62]

1867[edit]

Angola, New York
Bray, County Wicklow.
  • December 18, 1867 – United StatesAngola Horror – The Buffalo-bound New York Express of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern derails its last coach, and it plunges off a truss bridge into Big Sister Creek just after passing Angola, New York. The next car is also pulled from the track and rolls down the far embankment. Stoves set both coaches on fire and 49 are killed.
  • In 1867 – United Kingdom – A bridge collapses under a passenger train at Bray, County Wicklow.[citation needed]

1868[edit]

1869[edit]

  • April 23, 1869 – United StatesHollis, New York, United States: A Long Island Rail Road passenger train is derailed by a broken rail. The rail curls into a "snakehead" and rips out the bottom of one of the cars. Six people are killed and fourteen injured.[65]
  • November 14, 1869 – United States – San Leandro, California, United States: An errant switchman and poor visibility due to fog led to a head-on collision between an eastbound passenger train from Oakland, with a sleeper car, on the Western Pacific Railroad and an Alameda-bound Alameda Railroad passenger train. Among the fourteen killed was Judge Alexander W. Baldwin of the US District Court of Nevada.[66]

1870s[edit]

1870[edit]

  • June 21, 1870 – United KingdomNewark rail crash - The axle of a wagon of a Midland Railway freight train breaks at Newark, Nottinghamshire, derailing the train. The derailed wagons foul an adjacent line. An excursion train collides with the debris. Eighteen people are killed and 40 are injured.
  • September 12, 1870 – United KingdomStairfoot rail accident - A Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway freight train runs away and collides with a passenger train at Stairfoot, Yorkshire. Fifteen people are killed and 59 are injured.
  • September 14, 1870 – United Kingdom – A London and North Western Railway mail train is diverted into a siding at Tamworth station, Staffordshire due to a signalman's error. The train crashes through the buffers and ends up in the River Anker. Three people are killed.[67]
  • December 6, 1870 – United Kingdom – A collision between two North Eastern Railway trains at Brockley Whins, County Durham claims five lives. Lack of interlocking between points and signals is the cause.[68]
  • 1870 – United Kingdom – A North Eastern Railway freight train overruns signals and is in collision with a London and North Western Railway mail train at St. Nicholas Crossing, Carlisle, Cumberland. Five people are killed, many more are injured. The driver of the North Eastern Railway train was intoxicated.[68]
  • 1870 – United Kingdom – A London and North Western Railway mail train is in a rear-end collision with a freight train at Harrow station, Middlesex. Eight people are killed.[68]

1871[edit]

  • February 6, 1871 – United StatesWappinger Creek, New Hamburg, New York, United States: A passenger train strikes the rear of a stalled oil train on a drawbridge. Twenty-two people are killed.[69]
Bangor, Maine August 8, 1871
Site of the Revere, Massachusetts train wreck August 26, 1871

1872[edit]

1873[edit]

Scene of the Railroad Disaster at Meadow Brook, Rhode Island, a wood engraving from a sketch by Theodore R. Davis, published in Harper's Weekly, May 10, 1873. The accident occurred on April 19, 1873 at Wood River Junction

1874[edit]

Shipton-on-Cherwell.

1875[edit]

  • July 6, 1875 – Chile – A bridge collapses beneath the overnight train between Valparaíso and Santiago in Chile, killing nine people.[77]
  • August 28, 1875 – United Kingdom – A passenger train overruns signals and is in a rear-end collision with an excursion train at Kildwick, Yorkshire. Seven people are killed and 39 are injured.[78]
Lagerlunda rail accident, 1875

1876[edit]

Ashtabula Bridge collapse.

1877[edit]

1878[edit]

1879[edit]

Tay Bridge collapse.
  • December 28, 1879 – United KingdomTay Bridge disaster - The Tay Rail Bridge collapses in a violent storm while a North British Railway passenger train is crossing it. There are no survivors, with the total estimated at seventy-five lives lost; although the real total was fifty-nine.[102] The subsequent investigation concludes that "the bridge was badly designed, badly constructed and badly maintained" and lays the major blame on the designer, Sir Thomas Bouch. William McGonagall produces his epic poem The Tay Bridge Disaster to commemorate the event. The disaster shocks engineers into creating an improved crossing both on the Tay, as well as the famous Forth Bridge.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wragg 2004, p. 46.
  2. ^ 1955-, Foley, Michael,. Britain's railway disasters : fatal accidents from the 1830s to the present day. Barnsley. ISBN 1781593795. OCLC 886539827.
  3. ^ Leeds Mercury 7 March 1818
  4. ^ Balkwill & Marshall 1993, p. 219.
  5. ^ "Corrections and clarifications". London: The Guardian. 21 June 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2009.
  6. ^ a b Hewison 1983, p. 26.
  7. ^ Derrick 1930, pp. 83–84.
  8. ^ "Liverpool – shocking accident on the railroad". The Times. 1833-02-04. Quoted in Stuart Hylton (2007). The Grand Experiment: The Birth of the Railway Age, 1820–45. Ian Allan. pp. 81–82. ISBN 0-7110-3172-X.
  9. ^ "FATAL ACCIDENT". Caledonian Mercury (17570). 22 February 1834.
  10. ^ Reed, Robert (1968). Train Wrecks: A Pictoral History of Accidents on the Main Line. Seattle: Superior Pub. Co. p. 127. ISBN 0-517-328976.
  11. ^ "Rhône - Givors - Accident de Train". La Presse, p.3. October 17, 1836. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  12. ^ Bucks Herald & Saturday 9 March 1839, p. 3.
  13. ^ a b Hall 1990, p. 20.
  14. ^ Rolt & Kichenside 1982, p. 69.
  15. ^ Hall 1990, pp. 20–21.
  16. ^ Chandler 1977, p. page not cited.
  17. ^ Hall 1990, p. 23.
  18. ^ a b Hewison 1983, p. 27.
  19. ^ Hewison 1983, pp. 28–29.
  20. ^ a b Hewison 1983, p. 29.
  21. ^ "Accident on the Dover Railway". The Times (18988). London. 29 July 1845. col A, p. 5.
  22. ^ "FEARFUL AND FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE SOUTH EASTERN RAILWAY". The Times (19139). London. 21 January 1846. col D, p. 5.
  23. ^ Hewison 1983, pp. 29–30.
  24. ^ Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons, 1847, vol. 30, pg. 185
  25. ^ a b Hewison 1983, p. 30.
  26. ^ Rolt & Kichenside 1982, p. 176.
  27. ^ a b Hall 1990, p. 25.
  28. ^ Hewison 1983, pp. 30–31.
  29. ^ Hewison 1983, pp. 31–32.
  30. ^ Hewison 1983, p. 32.
  31. ^ Hewison 1983, p. 33.
  32. ^ a b Hall 1990, p. 26.
  33. ^ Hewison 1983, pp. 33–34.
  34. ^ Hewison 1983, p. 35.
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  36. ^ Earnshaw 1990, p. 2.
  37. ^ Reed, Robert (1968). Train Wrecks: A Pictoral History of Accidents on the Main Line. Seattle: Superior Pub. Co. p. 18. ISBN 0-517-328976.
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  39. ^ Hewison 1983, pp. 37–38.
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  43. ^ Vaughan 2003, p. 7.
  44. ^ Hewison 1983, pp. 35–36.
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  48. ^ "Fatal Railway Accident". The Times (22401). London. 23 June 1856. col B, p. 7.
  49. ^ Shepard 1857, pp. 1–52.
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  51. ^ "Daily State Sentinel 17 May 1858 — Hoosier State Chronicles: Indiana's Digital Historic Newspaper Program". newspapers.library.in.gov. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
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  54. ^ a b c Kidner 1977, p. 89.
  55. ^ Staff Writer (06/10/1861). "Durham Chronicle Sep 6 1861". Durham Chronicle. Retrieved Jun 1, 2018. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  56. ^ "THE ACCIDENT ON THE ERIE RAILWAY". The New York Times. August 22, 1864. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  57. ^ "Fatal Railroad accident". The Sunbury American. September 24, 1864. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
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  60. ^ Kidner 1977, p. 49.
  61. ^ Abdill 1959, p. 159.
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  66. ^ History of Alameda County, M.W. Wood, Publisher, 1883, pp. 667-670.
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  73. ^ "Vasárnapi Ujság" (PDF). 1873-05-11.
  74. ^ "Vasárnapi Ujság" (PDF). 1873-05-18.
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  76. ^ "Accident at Menheniot – St Germans on 2nd December 1873". Railways Archive. Retrieved 2017-05-14. (As of the retrieval date the accident report itself is not yet available on the site, but the summary page confirms the date of the crash.)
  77. ^ Hurtado, Julio. "La ruta fatal" (in Spanish). El Mercurio del Valparaiso. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
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  79. ^ Bengtsson 2007, pp. 213–15.
  80. ^ Hall 1990, pp. 47–48.
  81. ^ Rich & Whitehurst 1994, p. 29.
  82. ^ Hall 1990, p. 48.
  83. ^ Hoole 1983, p. 13.
  84. ^ Eric Chandlee Wilson, "The Great Wreck of 1877", Chester County Day, 1997.
  85. ^ Kidner 1977, pp. 89–90.
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  88. ^ "Frightful Railway Disaster in Belgium". The Cornishman (29). 30 January 1879. p. 6.
  89. ^ "Collision on the Tay Bridge". The Cornishman (29). 30 January 1879. p. 8.
  90. ^ "Accident at Snow-Hill Station". The Cornishman (29). 30 January 1879. p. 8.
  91. ^ "A Cattle Train ...". The Cornishman (31). 13 February 1879. p. 7.
  92. ^ "The Highland Railway". The Cornishman (39). 10 April 1879. p. 7.
  93. ^ "Fatal Railway Collision in Scotland". The Cornishman (45). 22 May 1879. p. 6.
  94. ^ "Accident to a Special Cattle Train". The Cornishman (49). 19 June 1879.
  95. ^ "Railways". The Cornishman (55). 31 July 1879. p. 8.
  96. ^ "Fatal Railway Accident In Paris". The Cornishman (56). 7 August 1879. p. 5.
  97. ^ "A Dreadful Railway Collision". The Cornishman (58). 21 August 1879. p. 3.
  98. ^ "Accident To The Scotch Mail Train". The Cornishman (60). 4 September 1879. p. 7.
  99. ^ Trevena 1981, p. 4.
  100. ^ "Accidents". The Cornishman (66). 16 October 1879. p. 3.
  101. ^ "Fatal Railway Accident". The Cornishman (73). 4 December 1879. p. 5.
  102. ^ "Courier article to blame for Tay Bridge Disaster death toll confusion, says researcher". The Courier. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2016.

Sources[edit]

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