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Camden and Amboy Railroad Accident, 1855

camden and amboy railroad accidentNames of passengers dead and injured after an accident near Burlington, NJ that derailed four train cars into a ditch.

24 people died, and some 65 to 100 others were injured, when a train backed up in reverse at a high speed, struck a horse-drawn carriage, and derailed.

It started on August 29, 1855, when a passenger train carrying five cars along the Camden and Amboy Railroad left Philadelphia, and by 10:00 am, reached Burlington, NJ. It had stopped and waited for a New York train from Jersey City to pass by. After 5-10 minutes, after not seeing the expected New York train, the Philadelphia train continued. It went about 1 1/4 miles when the New York train came into view. The Philadephia train stopped, sounded a whistle, and went into reverse towards Burlington at a high rate of speed.

With the train moving backwards, the engineer and conductor could not see up ahead. By this time, a horse-drawn carriage carrying Dr. Heineken, his wife and two children, were in the process of crossing the track. The train struck the carriage. Four of the five cars derailed, sustaining numerous deaths and injuries.

By this time, the Camden and Amboy Railroad company had amassed a long list of accidents, but this had been its worst to date. The railroad ran between Philadelphia and New York, and was arguably the most busiest and most profitable railway in the United States. The company had been long criticized for using a single-track system with numerous pull outs to allow for passing trains. Most other railroad companies started with single tracks, and then used profits to build a second track to allow for free-flowing two-way traffic. But Camden and Amboy Railroad owners opted to stick with the single track system and rely on a very precarious process of timing and waiting.

Camden and Amboy Railroad eventually built a second track, but didn't complete until after the Civil War.

Names of Dead and Injured

camden and amboy railroad accident deathsNames of passengers below were taken from Daily Dispatch, published in Richmond, VA, on the front page, dated Saturday, September 1, 1855. The image on the right is just a partial cutting of the full article, which goes on to provide details of the accident, and names other people involoved. Copy of this newspaper can be accessed from: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

Killed

Mr. Geo W. Ridgeway, oil merchant, Philadelphia, store No 30 North Delaware avenue;
Alexander Kelley, queensware store, No 108 Market street;
Baron de St Andre, French Consul, Philadelphia;
Edward P Bacon, Spring Garden street, above seventh, Philadelphia;
Wilson Kent, of the firm of Dyott & Co, No 74 S Second street, Philadephia;
Mrs. Clement Barclay, Locust street, above Thirteenth, Philadelphia, on her way to Europe;
Mrs. Margaret Prescott, of Salem, NJ, wife of Rev Mr Prescott, and sister-in-law of the historian;
J Meredith, Baltimore;
Mr Jacob Howard, Lebanon, Tenn;
John Dallam, Baltimore;
Capt Boyce, US Coast Survey, Washington;
Mrs Boyce, wife of Capt B;
Rev John M Connell, Presbyterian Clergyman, WIlmington, Del, died after being removed to Burlington;
Miss Jane Lincoln, aged 32, died at Agnew's Hotel;
D T Haywood, Charleston, SC;
Henry Rush, Georgetown, DC;
Chas Boston, of the firm of Bottom & Co, Iron Building Manufacturer, Trenton, NJ;
M J Stoughton, residence unknown;
Catharine Bigelow, Philadelphia;
Catharine Brown, colored servant of Commodore Smith;
Mr George Ingersoll, son of Lieut Harry Ingersoll, of Philadelphia, was reported to be dead when the boat left.

Wounded

H L Bennet, of Philadelphia, slightly;
John F Gillespie and wife, of Memphis, Tenn, badly;
Mrs King, Charleston, SC, rib fractured;
John Kelly, Pittsburg, badly injured in the back;
____ Lukens, flour dealer, Phila, injured in the breast by one of the seats striking him;
Thos Finley, Fourth and George streets, Phil, collar bone broken and otherwise hurt;
Miss Lincoln Phelps and mother, from Ellicott's Mills, Md, injured;
Mrs Lukens and servant, badly injured;
____ Packer, Phila, leg broken and otherwise injured;
Mrs Pringle, New York, slightly;
Hon Wm B McClay, New York, severely;
Thomas Morgan, fancy dry goods dealer, North Eighth street, Phila, head injured;
Caroline Hyman, colored, slightly;
Mr Fisk, Conn, leg broken;
Mr Kay, Haddonfield, NJ, both legs broken - not likely to recover;
Dennis O'Phelan, badly - both legs fractured;
Philip Oren, Schuylkill county;
Rev Mr Rarvin, Episcopal cergyman - conveyed to Bishop Doane's, severely injured;
J M Little, Pittsburg, slightly;
Samuel Lahm, Canton, Ohio, badly;
Geo H Harlan, Cecil county, Md, collar bone broken, and badl bruised;
Two daughters of Captain Boyce, badly;
James M Patton, Philadelphia, compound fracture of thigh;
Mr Leeds, Phila, slightly;
Mrs Sergeant, Phila, No 377 Spruce street;
George F Harlan, Conn;
James C Wheaton, Phila;
____ Skaukland, Express Agent;
Charles Dickessey, 45 Water street;
Spencer McCorkle, Tacony US Coast Survey, slightly;
Dr A Porter, Harrisburg, slightly;
Judge Reeves, Ohio, slightly;
Hon William Whelan, Naval Bureau, Wash;
Charles W Oldenburg, Phila, Furnishing Store, Fourth street, near Arch;
Wm Clarke, Delaware county, Pa;
Mrs Haslan, Jersey City;
Commodore Joseph M Smith, US Navy;
Joseph Burk, Phila, back broken;
Rebecca Phillips, and daughter, Phila;
Abigail Phillips;
Dennis O'Kane, District of Columbia;
Ford Frazier, laborer, Manayunk, slightly;
Charles Le Bouttillier, Phila, slightly;
J D Fisher, 53 Market street;
Daniel Saurbeek, Alliance, Ohio, considerably hurt.

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