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Allentown, PA Train Wreck, Jul 1858

Terrible Accident on the Lehigh Valley Railroad --- One Span of the Bridge over the Jordan, at Allentown, broken down by a Train of Coal Cars --- Two Men Killed and four Injured.

[From the Easton Daily Express.]

A dreadful accident happened this morning on the Lehigh Valley Railroad, at Allentown, to a train of empty coal cars on their way to Mauch Chunk, by which the fireman and engineer lost their lives, and four other employees of the road were injured. The accident occurred about half past seven o'clock. The train was passing the bridge over the Jordan, which has two spans, and the locomotive had nearly reached the pier when the span upon which the train was began to give way, and sank gradually for a minute or two, and then fell with an awful crash, carrying down the locomotive and about forty coal cars. The engineer and the fireman, who were on the locomotive when the bridge gave way, were of course carried down, where they met a most dreadful death, both, we are told by JACOB MYERS, who was on the train at the time of the accident, being burned in a most terrible manner. We give below the names and residences of the killed and injureds:

KILLED. --- JOEL FIELD, South Easton, engineer; leaves a wife and three children.
WM. LANDERS, South Easton fireman; leaves a wife and four children.

INJURED. --- JACOB MEYERS, Easton, brakeman, cut about the face and shoulder, and otherwise hurt. He jumped from the last car that went over the abutment, and received the bruises in so doing, but, no doubt, saved his life by it.

JOHN KINSEY, South Easton, master mechanic on the road, was scalded slightly.

JAMES DONNALLY, South Easton, conductor of the train, received severe cuts on the head, but otherwise, we believe, was uninjured.

JOHN H. WOLF, brakeman, of Easton, was hurt, but not severely.

None of the injured stand in any danger of losing their lives from their wounds.
The distressing occurrences caused great excitement at Allentown, the people of which place went to the scene in great numbers, and offered assistance. The physicians of the place were there, and rendered all the service they could. As soon as it was ascertained at Bethlehem that an accident had occurred, a car was sent up by the officers of the North Pennsylvania road to bring down the injured, who got to their homes here and in South Easton about nine o'clock.

No blame, that we are aware of, attaches to any one for the accident. The bridge has always been considered safe.

The person from whom we obtained the above particulars said nothing about the cars running off the track, but a despatch [sic] which came to us after the account of the accident was written, says that “when the train approached the bridge the cars from some unknown cause were thrown from the track, and before the speed of the engine could be checked, it reached the second span of the bridge, by which time, from the displacing of the timbers by piling up of the coal cars, the span gave way.”

The bodies of those who were killed were brought down this afternoon.

The breach will be repaired, so that the trains will again pass in the course of forty-eight hours.

Philadelphia Press 1858-07-22



article | by Dr. Radut