Terra Cotta, DC Train Wreck, Dec 1907


Engine Plows Through Local Train Near Washington


Thirty-eight Die in Wreck -- Three Crowded Cars Demolished -- Dead Train Ran Past Signal in Thick Fog.

Washington, D. C. -- The fatal error of an engineer in passing a black signal light that he could not see in the fog, thus letting two trains in "on the same block" to follow each other over the same track, was the cause of a frightful rear-end collision on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at Terra Cotta, in the outskirts of this city.
The bodies of thirty-eight have been found, some of them mutilated beyond all hope of identification. It is by no means certain that this completes the list of killed. It may reach forty, or even fifty.
There were 200 passengers on the wrecked train, and more than forty per cent were either killed or injured.
The dead and injured were strewn along the track for half a mile. Sixty injured have been taken to various hospitals.
Four men have been arrested in an effort to fix the blame for the disaster. They are Engineer HENRY HILDEBRAND, of the rear train, that caused the collision; his fireman, McLEAN; Conductor HOFFINGER and the signal man at Takoma Park. They are locked up in the station at Terra Cotta. HILDEBRAND is almost demented. He babbles of the wreck from which he escaped miraculously.
It was precisely the same kind of an accident that snuffed out the life of President Samuel Spencer, of the Southern Railroad, on his own road, near Lynchburg, thirty days ago.
The identified dead are: DR. E. OLIVER BELL, optician, the Farragut, Washington: EDWARD M. BELT, white, fourteen years old, address unknown: Commodore P. BROWN, sixty years old, address unknown: DAN N. CARR, Kingston, Md.: ELDER O. L. DAILEY, Newark, Ohio: C. J. R. HALL, Baltimore: DR. E. GAITHER HARRIS, Washington: GEORGE HIGBEE, eight years old, Brookland, D.C.: HENRY HIGBEE, Brookland, father of GEORGE HIGBEE: T. A. KELLY, Kensington, Md.: Professor KING, organist Wesley Chapel, Kensington, Md.: MISS KELL (a Y.M.C.A., card was found in her pocket): MARY LEFFOLD, thirty years old, employe Bureau Engraving and Printing, Washington: LEE LOW, No. 1212 F street, Washington: MRS. J. McCAGHEY and her fourteen-year-old son: ELIZABETH PEARMAN, Takoma Park: NORMAN ROGERS, white, Marion, Ind.: L. RUPPERT, Washington, merchant; THEODORE MERTZ, New York; MAY COOK and baby, Washington; MRS. S. W. SHREWBRIDGE and baby, Washington; MRS. J. McCAGHLEY and her 12 year old son; MRS. SALLIE V. BUTTS, Washington, aged 39, identified at morgue; MRS. A. W. REDDING, who was on the train is missing; Colonel ROBERT ANDERSON, Newark, Ohio.
The disaster occurred in a dense fog. The wrecked train was a local from Frederick, Md. It was ran down by a special equipment train, comprised of eight empty cars. Two of the coaches on the local were reduced to splinters. The other two coaches, one a smoker, were shattered from end to end, but remained on the trucks.
The local was just pulling out of the Terra Cotta station, after taking on about a dozen passengers. The special came flying along at sixty miles an hour and drove with irresistible force through the two rear coaches.

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