Port Jervis, NY Express Train Accident July 1858



[From the New York Times of July 17.]

The most serious accident that has ever occurred on the Erie Railroad happened to the Express train (which leaves Jersey City at 5:30 p.m.) on Thursday six miles east from Port Jervis, at about 9 o'clock p.m. The train consisted of a locomotive, six passenger cars and one baggage crate.
There were about 150 persons on the train. They had just stopped at Turners Corner, where passengers take tea, and then proceeded westward at the rate of about 35 miles an hour. On approaching a place known as "Shinn Hollow" where the road is straight, with a steep embankment, some forty feet in depth, on one side, the locomotive struck a broken rail, which it jumped, carrying along the crate and the first four passenger cars. The two rear cars, however, were thrown from the rail, and, after being drawn over the sleepers for some distance, the coupling broke, which connected these two cars with the rest of the train, and they were both thrown over the embankment. The rear car turned two or three times completely over, while the other made but one turn and a half, remaining bottom up. The last car was torn to fragments, one of the heavy iron trucks passing through the bottom and crushing to death several of those within. All the deaths occurred in this car, while in this, as well as the other, a large number were seriously injured. A number had their limbs broken, and were pierced by splinters and fragments of the wreck. Six persons were found to have been killed, viz: three men, one woman, (colored) and two children. Two or three were living last evening, whose injuries are so serious that it is though they cannot recover.
For over an hour a scene of the wildest confusion prevailed around the spot. All the lights having been extinguished, the surrounding darkness added to the horror of their situation. While some labored industriously to extricate those who were buried beneath the wreck, others piled portions of the fragments together and made bonfires to give light, and others brought water from a spring nearby, to revive those who were fainting from pain and the loss of blood. As soon as possible after the full extent of the disaster was known, the locomotive, with one car was dispatched to Port Jervis to bring assistance, and in about an hour (11 1/2 p.m.) it returned, having from four to five physicians, with such medicines and restoratives as were at hand, and a number of citizens, who promptly came down to offer their assistance. By this time all the living, but injured persons, were placed in the remaining cars; those most seriously hurt reclining upon double seats, and the dead being laid in one of the cars together. The train reached Port Jervis about midnight, but the news of the disaster had been circulated among the citizens, who rose, lighted their houses, and made every arrangement to receive and care for the wounded passengers. The following is a list of the killed and wounded, carefully prepared from the reports brought us from several quarters, and from statements of passengers, which in the details of the disaster agree with our account of the statements published below. It will be seen by the latest intelligence from our reporters at Port Jervis, that the number of the injured is not so great as given below, from which it is to be hoped that several of them were less seriously hurt than was at first supposed.