Mud Run, PA Train Wreck, Oct 1888

Mud Run Disaster


Identifying the Victims of the Mud Run Collision.


The Most Shocking Disaster in the History of American Railroads - A Million Dollars in Splinters.

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 11. -- A special dispatch from Easton, Pa., says that the story of the disaster on the Lehigh Valley railroad last night at Mud Run, as told by an official, is as follows:
"Eighty-Seven car loads of people attended the parade at Hazelton from Wilkesbarre, Scranton, Carbondale and other places. There were sight sections of the train and these followed passenger train No. 12, with orders to run 10 minutes apart. These orders were also delivered to the telegraph operators at all signal stations. The seventh section came to Mud Run ahead of time and was stopped until 10 minutes expired. The danger signal was displayed at the station and the rear brakemen were sent back as an additional protection. Section No. 7 laid a short distance beyond the station. No. 8 came thundering along and the brakeman gave the engineer the signal to stop. He failed to heed it and dashed by. The train plunged on the disregarded signal at the station and the awful disaster followed. The last train was composed of people from Carbondale. Three cars were telescoped. Half an hour after the accident Superintendent Goodwin left Bethlehem for the scene of the accident with a carload of physicians.

A gentleman who has arrived from the scene says that the section of the train wrecked was made up of Jersey Central passenger cars, which are only shells or apologies for cars. Two of these were completely demolished and the other two are next to worthless. Fifty-six persons are dead, and some of the 40 persons injured will die. Some of the dead and injured have been sent to their homes at Scranton and Pleasant Valley, and the rest when he left were lying in the cars. The section that collided with the section that was above the station was drawn by two engines. The first engine ploughed through the last car in the train and partly through the next one above. Many of the dead and injured that were in these cars were found either beneath, on top or along side of the engine, some of them mangled almost beyond recognition". When the narrator left, the wreck had been cleared and trains were again running on them. Continuing, he said:
"HENRY COOK was engineer of the first engine and JAMES SHARKEY of the second. COOK leaped from his engine, and when I left could not be found. His fireman was severely but not dangerously injured. I was told that SHARKEY said that when he saw the signal to stop he shut off steam. When he saw the danger signal on the target at the depot he reversed his lever, but COOK'S engine continued using steam and pulled him into the wreck. SHARKEY escaped injury. The story that some of the cars were thrown over the embankment is not true. From my knowledge of the strength of the cars I should say that if they had been Lehigh Valley cars instead of Jersey Central the accident would not have been so disastrous and I doubt if more than three or four persons would have been killed. The distance from the end of the seventh section of the train to the spot where the brakeman stood giving the signal to the eighth section was measured this morning and found to be 1,000 feet. As the train was ascending a grade it could have been stopped in less than that distance. According to the investigation thus far made, the company's rules and orders were complied with, by the telegraph operator and the crew of the third section."

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Mud Run Train Wreck 10 Oct. 1888

While reading this article and seeing the list of people killed, it was made known to me that the person James Jackson, son of Frank Jackson, was my grandmothers brother. I never knew this, but now can pass this info along to my family.