Washington, DC Street Car Wreck, Jul 1898


Thirty People Injured In A Collision Of Street Cars In Washington


Car On The Capitol Railway Snapped Its Brake-Chain.

At The Time It Had Just Started Down A Steep Grade, And At The Foot Of The Hill, When It Was Running At A Tremendous Rate Of Speed, It Crashed Into A Car On The Anacostia Railway.

(Special Dispatch to the Baltimore Sun.)

WASHINGTON, July 10.---A frightful accident occurred about 10 o'clock tonight at the foot of the St. Elizabeth Asylum hill beyond Anacostia. A street car, crowded with people, jumped the track, demolished a car of the Anacostia road and wounded about thirty people, some of whom may die. The accident happened at the time when travel on the road is heaviest.

A car of the Capitol Railway Company left the asylum gate on its way from Congress Heights to Anacostia. It carried about 110 passengers, many of whom were standing on the front board. It had gone about thirty yards from the asylum when the brake chain broke. The accident took place just as the car was fairly started on the steep grade of the long hill, one of the steepest grades in the District.

When the chain broke the passengers felt that something wrong had happened, and as the car began to gain momentum this feeling of apprehension was heightened. Many rose in fright, and a large number of the men and two or three women jumped from the car. As it descended the hill the speed became terrific. At the foot of the hill the tracks of the Capitol Hallway Company join those of the Anacostia Railway Company, and the cars of the first company run into Anacostia over the latter company's tracks.

Just as the crowded car came rushing down the hill a horse car of the Anacostia road came in sight. The driver attempted to check his horses, but it was too late. He jumped for his life, and as he did so the crash occurred. The cries of the injured women and children were heart rending. The men who were uninjured assisted in removing the other passengers from the wrecked car, and residents of Anacostia offered every assistance. The local physicians hurried to the spot and telephone messages were sent for all the ambulances and patrol wagons available. The patrols from the fourth, fifth and ninth precincts and the ambulances from Providence Hospital and St. Elizabeth were soon on the ground with medical assistance.

It was found that many of the passengers were badly hurt. Some of them had their legs broken and others their skulls fractured. Many were hurt only about the hands and knees. At midnight it appeared that eighteen of them were seriously injured, with several probable fatalities. The others went to their homes after their wounds were dressed.

T. H. Collins, of 3138 P street, said that he realized as soon as he heard the chain break that an accident was coming, and that this conviction was deepened when the lights began to go out and flash again. The car had only gone about a hundred yards before he called out to the passengers to jump and did so himself. He escaped with an injured hand. Others jumped also, and all along the hillside, from top to botom[soc], there were injured men and women. Some of the men insisted that the women should not jump, but remain on the car.

Guy Latimer, a boy living on G street southeast, was badly injured internally, in addition to wounds of the head. He was unnerved by the accident, and could not talk of it. Several little girls, whose names could not be learned, were injured. They were left at their houses on M street southeast, by an ambulance carrying wounded to the Emergency Hospital.

R. W. Bowman, of Anacostia, had his hand badly mashed; Ernest Berkeley, of 120 Franklin street, was badly injured about the head, skull probably fractured. Willie Barker, living on Second street, between M and N streets, was seriously injured and may die. Louis Miller, of 925 N street southeast, had a deep scalp wound, and his skull was probably fractured. The physicians were unable to tell the extent of him injuries.

Among the injured are the following: Thomas W. Robert, agent of the Baltimore Ohio Railroad at Anacostia, seriously hurt about the head and body; Ernest Berkeley, 120 Franklin street southeast, cut about the head; George Thorp, 236 Ninth street southeast, injured about the hips and arms; Lewis Rosenberg, 928 North Eden street, Baltimore, legs broken; George W. Obrem, 1223 E. street southeast, leg broken; George Calman, 116 Sixth street southeast, injured about the body; Lizzie Lewis, 1244 Eleventh street, cut about the head and body; L. F. Miller, 925 N. street, cut on the head.

Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin, G. street, near Fourth southeast, badly bruised and cut; Miss Scott, Third street, near K southeast, hurt about face and body; F. J. Winkelman, apprentice in the navy, back injured; Jas. F. Morgan, apprentice in the navy, leg broken; Frank Downing, 133 Ninth street, injured about the body; William Barker, 1226 G. street, head hurt; Edward Olivierl, ribs broken.

The car was in charge of Arthur Selby, motorman, and J. W. Woerner, conductor. The motorman signaled by the bell that he had lost control of the car, but the conductor could do nothing. The horse attached to the horse car were frightfully mutilated, being literally torn to pieces. They were shot.

It is regarded as miraculous that no one was killed instantly, as the motor car was crushed, and it was necessary to raise the roof to get out the injured. The list of wounded is not complete, as many who were only slightly wounded went home without leaving their names.

The Sun, Baltimore, MD 11 Jul 1898