List of rail accidents (before 1880)

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

17th century


  • 1650, April and July[clarification needed]EnglandWhickham, County Durham. Two boys die when they are run down by a wagon on a wooden coal tramway. While such tramway accidents are not generally listed as rail accidents (note the lack of accidents listed for the next 150 years) this is sometimes cited as the earliest known railway accident.[1]

19th century




  • December 5, 1821 – United Kingdom – David Brook, a carpenter, is walking home from Leeds, Yorkshire along the Middleton Railway in a sleet storm when he is run over, with fatal results, by the steam engine of a coal train. This is the first case of a person being killed in a railway collision.[2]


  • 1827 – United Kingdom – An unnamed woman from Eaglescliffe, County Durham, England (believed to have been a blind beggar woman) is "killed by the steam machine on the railway". This is also said to be the first case of a person being killed in a railway collision, and the first case of a woman being killed.[3]








  • October 11, 1836 – France – An employee of the line from Saint-Étienne to Lyon falls on a track and is decapitated by a train. The first train accident in France.


File:Suffolk accident.jpg
Suffolk, Virginia collision
  • August 11, 1837 – United States – The first head-on collision to result in passenger fatalities occurs on the Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad near Suffolk, Virginia when an eastbound lumber train coming down a grade at speed rounds a sharp curve and smashes into the morning passenger train from Portsmouth, Virginia. The first three of the thirteen stagecoach-style cars are smashed, killing three daughters of the prominent Ely family and injuring dozens of the 200 on board. They are returning from a steamboat cruise when the accident happened. An engraving depicting the moment of impact was published in Howland's Steamboat Disasters and Railroad Accidents in 1840.





  • October 5, 1841, – United States – Two Western Railroad passenger trains are in a head-on collision between Worcester, Massachusetts and Albany, New York. A conductor and a passenger are killed and seventeen passengers are injured.[10]
  • December 24, 1841 – United Kingdom – Nine passengers are killed and seventeen are injured when a Great Western Railway Paddington to Bristol train runs into a landslide in Sonning Cutting. The extent of the casualties in this accident calls into question the practice of mixing passenger and freight wagons in fast trains. The dead are stonemasons travelling in open wagons; they have no protection from either accidents or the weather, and the accident leads to a public outcry, and new legislation which insists on better carriages for passengers.


Versailles train disaster


  • 1843 – United Kingdom – A collision between two North Midland Railway trains at Barnsley, Yorkshire killed one person. The only passenger to be killed travelling by train in the United Kingdom that year.[11]
  • 1843 – United Kingdom – A locomotive boiler explosion on the Hartlepool Railway kills one person, a member of the public travelling illegally on the footplate.[12]




  • January 20, 1846 – United Kingdom – A bridge over the River Medway between Tunbridge and Penshurst, Kent, England, collapses while a freight train is passing over it. The driver is killed.[16]
  • July 9th, 1846 – United Kingdom – a clarence engine standing in a branch line of the Stockton and Darlington Railway suddenly began to move down the incline, it collided with some waggons of another clarence engine. Four men were crushed between the carriages and were severely injured. One died at the scene.
  • November 20, 1846 – United Kingdom – During the construction of the Blackburn, Darwen and Bolton Railway, the boiler of ex-Stockton and Darlington Railway locomotive No. 18 Shildon explodes at Sough, Lancashire.[17]
  • November 23, 1846 – United Kingdom – Elizabeth Coleman, aged eleven years, was killed upon the above line. The deceased was, it appeared, endeavouring to cross the line at a point near the Roydon station where the Lockroad crosses the line on a level, when she was struck by the buffer of a Cambridge train, and killed upon the spot. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.”


The Dee bridge after its collapse
  • May 24, 1847 – United Kingdom – Five passengers are killed and nine are injured when the carriages of a Chester to Ruabon train falls 50 feet (15 m) into the River Dee following the collapse of a bridge. One of the supporting cast-iron girders had cracked in the centre and given way. The locomotive and tender manage to reach the other side of the bridge, which was engineered by Robert Stephenson. The accident causes his reputation to be questioned. The collapse leads to a re-evaluation of the use of cast-iron in railway bridges; many bridges have to be demolished or reinforced.
  • 28 June 1847 – United Kingdom – A North Union Railway locomotive suffers a boiler explosion, injuring one person.[18]


  • April 25, 1848 – United Kingdom – The boiler of a North Midland Railway locomotive explodes at Normanton, Derbyshire, scalding three people.[18]
  • May 10, 1848 – United Kingdom – Six passengers are killed and thirteen are injured at Shrivenham, Berkshire when a Great Western Railway express train runs into two wagons on the line. The horse-box and cattle van had been pushed onto the main line by two porters to free a wagon turntable. Although the locomotive was undamaged, the side of the leading carriage was torn out.[19]


  • Whitsuntide 1849 – United Kingdom – An East Lancashire Railway passenger train is in a rear-end collision with an excursion train. Despite efforts to protect its rear, another excursion train is in a rear-end collision with the passenger train.[20]
  • June 27, 1849 – United Kindgom – The boiler of Great Western Railway locomotive Goliah explodes whilst it is hauling a freight train on the South Devon Railway at Plympton, Devon. One person is killed.[21]






File:Norwalk rail disaster.jpg
Norwalk River, Connecticut.



  • August 29, 1855 – United States – A southbound Camden and Amboy Rail Road passenger train, backing up on a single track near Burlington, New Jersey, to make room for a northbound express, hit a horse-drawn carriage. The rearmost passenger car derailed, and the succeeding cars crashed into it, derailed, and plunged into a ditch. All four passengers cars were demolished. Twenty-four people died, and between 65 and 100 were injured.[36]
  • November 1, 1855 – United States – A bridge over the Gasconade River at Gasconade, Missouri collapses under a Pacific Railroad excursion train during the celebrations of the line's opening. Thirty-one people are killed and hundreds are seriously injured.
  • September 12, 1855 – United Kingdom – A light engine is dispatched from Reading on the wrong line and is in a head-on collision with a South Eastern Railway passenger train. Four people are killed, many are injured. [35]
  • December 15, 1855 – United States – The boiler of the New York Central Railroad locomotive Dewitt Clinton explodes, killing the engineer and fireman.[37]
  • 1855 – United Kingdom – A South Eastern Raileway train is derailed at Bricklayers' Arms Junction, Surrey when a pointsman moves a set of points under it.[35]


Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
  • July 17, 1856 – United States – Two North Pennsylvania Railroad passenger trains are in a head-on collision at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Fifty-nine people are killed in the crash and subsequent fire, with over 100 people injured, some of whom consequently die. The conductor of one of the trains commits suicide the same day, although he is later absolved of any responsibility.




South Bend, Indiana.




Wootton bridge after the crash



  • February 19, 1863 – United States – A Mississippi Southern train headed for the battlefield at Vicksburg, where the Confederate forces are in desperate need of reinforcements in the defence of the city against the assault of Sherman and the Union Army, derails on a damaged bridge and falls into an icy creek. At least 40 passengers killed, others drowned, some rescued from the water by soldiers of the First Battalion of Choctaw Indians, stationed nearby.


File:Beloeil bridge train accident, 1864.jpg
Immigrant train runs through an open swing bridge near Beloeil, Quebec.


  • June 7, 1865 – United Kingdom – A Great Western Railway excursion train is derailed at Rednal, Shropshire due to excessive speed on track under maintenance. Thirteen people are killed and 30 are injured.
Crash scene after the Staplehurst accident


  • April 30, 1866 – United Kingdom – A South Eastern Railway passenger train collides with some goods wagons at Caterham Junction, Surrey due to a signalman's error. Four people are killed.[45]
  • August 27, 1866 – United States – A boiler explosion on the Petaluma and Haystack Railroad at Petaluma Station kills the engineer and three others, and wrecks the railroad's only locomotive.[46]
  • December 19, 1866 – United Kingdom – During the construction of the new Smithfield Market building adjacent to an open-air section of the Metropolitan Railway in London, a girder falls onto a passing train and 3 passengers are killed. This is the first fatal accident to an underground train.[47]


Angola, New York
  • December 18, 1867 – United States – The Buffalo-bound New York Express of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern derails its last coach, and it plunges off a truss bridge into Big Sister Creek just after passing Angola, New York. The next car is also pulled from the track and rolls down the far embankment. Stoves set both coaches on fire and 49 are killed.
  • In 1867 – United Kingdom – A bridge collapses under a passenger train at Bray, County Wicklow.



  • April 23, 1869 – United StatesHollis, New York, United States: A Long Island Rail Road passenger train is derailed by a broken rail. The rail curls into a "snakehead" and rips out the bottom of one of the cars. Six people are killed and fourteen injured.[50]




  • February 6, 1871 – United StatesWappinger Creek, New Hamburg, New York, United States: A passenger train strikes the rear of a stalled oil train on a drawbridge. Twenty-two people are killed.[53]
  • August 9, 1871 – United States – A bridge collapses under a Maine Central Railway passenger train at Bangor, Maine. One person is killed and 30 are injured.[54]
  • August 26, 1871 – United States – A series of dispatching errors allow the Eastern Railroad's Portland Express to run into the rear of a stalled local train at Revere, Massachusetts. The wreckage catches fire; 29 people are killed and 57 are injured. Several prominent Boston citizens are killed bringing much national publicity to the accident.


  • October 2, 1872 – United Kingdom – A Caledonian Railway express passenger train collides with a freight train performing shunting operations at Kirtlebridge, Dumfriesshire. Twelve people are killed and fifteen are injured.


Wood River Junction


  • January 27, 1874 – United Kingdom – A North British Railway express passenger train collides with a freight train at Bo'ness Junction, Stirlingshire. Sixteen people are killed and 28 are injured.
  • September 10, 1874 – United Kingdom – Two Great Eastern Railway passenger trains are in a head-on collision at Thorpe St. Andrew, Norfolk. due to irregular dispatching procedures. Twenty-five people are killed and more than 100 injured. The accident leads directly to the introduction of automatic control systems to manage traffic on single-track railways.
  • December 24, 1874 – United Kingdom – A Great Western Railway passenger train is derailed by a fractured wheel at Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire. Thirty-four people are killed and 69 are injured. The lack of continuous brakes and poor communications exacerbates the disaster.


  • July 6, 1875 – Chile – A bridge collapses beneath the overnight train between Valparaíso and Santiago in Chile, killing nine people.[56]
  • August 28, 1875 – United Kingdom – A passenger train overruns signals and is in a rear-end collision with an excursion train at Kildwick, Yorkshire. Seven people are killed and 39 are injured.[57]


Ashtabula Bridge collapse.




  • January 18, (or 25), 1879 – Belgium – Two passengers and the engine-driver killed when the express train from Brussels to Lille and Calais left the line at Bassilly.[66]
  • January 22, 1879 – United Kingdom – A heavy goods train from Glasgow was travelling too fast on the Tay Rail Bridge and a number of carriages left the track when the guard applied the brakes.[67]
  • April 4 1879 – United Kingdom – A goods train ran off the Highland Railway line, near Perth, destroying 80 yards (73 m) of track.[70]

See also


  1. Wragg 2004, p. 46.
  2. Balkwill & Marshall 1993, p. 219.
  3. "Corrections and clarifications". London: The Guardian. 21 June 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hewison 1983, p. 26.
  5. Derrick 1930, pp. 83-84.
  6. "FATAL ACCIDENT". Caledonian Mercury (17570). 22 February 1834.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Hall 1990, p. 20.
  8. Rolt & Kichenside 1982, p. 69.
  9. Hall 1990, pp. 20-21.
  10. Chandler 1977, p. page not cited.
  11. Hall 1990, p. 23.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Hewison 1983, p. 27.
  13. Hewison 1983, pp. 28-29.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Hewison 1983, p. 29.
  15. "Accident on the Dover Railway" The Times (London). Tuesday, 29 July 1845. (18988), col A, p. 5.
  16. "FEARFUL AND FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE SOUTH EASTERN RAILWAY" The Times (London). Wednesday, 21 January 1846. (19139), col D, p. 5.
  17. Hewison 1983, pp. 29-30.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Hewison 1983, p. 30.
  19. Rolt & Kichenside 1982, p. 176.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Hall 1990, p. 25.
  21. Hewison 1983, pp. 30-31.
  22. Hewison 1983, pp. 31=32.
  23. Hewison 1983, p. 32.
  24. Hewison 1983, p. 33.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Hall 1990, p. 26.
  26. Hewison 1983, pp. 33-34.
  27. Hewison 1983, p. 35.
  28. "Accident on the South-Eastern Railway" The Times (London). Thursday, 7 October 1852. (21240), col C, p. 7.
  29. Earnshaw 1990, p. 2.
  30. Hewison 1983, pp. 36-37.
  31. Hewison 1983, pp. 37-38.
  32. L. Wright (Photographer): Train wreck on the Providence Worcester Railroad near to Pawtucket, August 12, 1853, Rochester: George Eastman House; Photo: Trains! at The George Eastman House,
  33. Vaughan 2003, p. 7.
  34. Hewison 1983, pp. 35-36.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 35.5 Kidner 1977, p. 48.
  36. Sinclair, Donald A. (10:2 (1947)). "Railroad Accident at Burlington in 1855". The Journal of the Rutgers University Library. pp. 46–54. Check date values in: |date= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Frank Leslie. "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (1855-1922) (reprint)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. "Fatal Railway Accident" The Times (London). Monsday, 23 June 1856. (22401), col B, p. 7.
  39. Shepard 1857, pp. 1-52.
  40. Trevena 1980, p. 7.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Kidner 1977, p. 89.
  42. "THE ACCIDENT ON THE ERIE RAILWAY". The New York Times. August 22, 1864. Retrieved May 29, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. "Fatal Railroad accident". The Sunbury American. September 24, 1864. Retrieved May 29, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. "RAILROAD DISASTERS.; Frightful Accident on the Pennsylvania Railroad Twenty Persons Killed and Injured. SECOND DISPATCH. FURTHER PARTICULARS". The New York Times. September 22, 1864. Retrieved May 29, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. Kidner 1977, p. 49.
  46. Abdill 1959, p. 159.
  47. Jackson 1986, pp. 65-66.
  48. Hall 1990, p. 37.
  49. Trevena 1980, p. 8.
  50. "Willow Tree Station". Arrt's Arrchives. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  51. Hall 1990, pp. 38-39.
  52. 52.0 52.1 52.2 Hall 1990, p. 40.
  53. Perillo, John (January 3, 1990). Southern Dutchess News
  54. Beitler, Stu. "Bangor, ME Train Through Bridge, Aug 1871". GenDisasters. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  55. Grantham Journal. 5 April 1873. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  56. Hurtado, Julio. "La ruta fatal" (in Spanish). El Mercurio del Valparaiso. Retrieved 1 June 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  57. Hall 1990, pp. 50-51.
  58. Bengtsson 2007, pp. 213-15.
  59. Hall 1990, pp. 47-48.
  60. Rich & Whitehurst 1994, p. 29.
  61. Hall 1990, p. 48.
  62. Hoole 1983, p. 13.
  63. Eric Chandlee Wilson, "The Great Wreck of 1877", Chester County Day, 1997.
  64. Kidner 1977, pp. 89-90.
  65. "The Pytchlely Hounds". The Cornishman (28). 23 January 1879. p. 7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  66. "Frightful Railway Disaster in Belgium". The Cornishman (29). 30 January 1879. p. 6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  67. "Collision on the Tay Bridge". The Cornishman (29). 30 January 1879. p. 8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  68. "Accident at Snow-Hill Station". The Cornishman (29). 30 January 1879. p. 8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  69. "A Cattle Train ...". The Cornishman (31). 13 February 1879. p. 7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  70. "The Highland Railway". The Cornishman (39). 10 April 1879. p. 7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  71. Trevena 1981, p. 4.
  72. [1]


  • Abdill, George B. (1959). Pacific Slope Railroads. Seattle: Superior Publishing.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Balkwill, Richard; Marshall, John (1993). The Guinness Book of Railway Facts and Feats (6th ed.). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85112-707-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Beebe, Lucius and Clegg, Charles (1952). Hear the train blow; a pictorial epic of America in the railroad age. New York: Grosset & Dunlap. ASIN B000I83FTC. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Bengtsson, Bengt-Arne (2007). Från Östra stambanan till Ostlänken/Götalandsbanan (in Swedish). Atremi: Atremi. ISBN 978-91-85487-63-9. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Chandler, Alfred D, Jr. (1977). The Visible Hand. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Derrick, Samuel Melanchthon (1930). Centennial History of South Carolina Railroad. Columbia, South Carolina: The State Company.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Earnshaw, Alan (1990). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 6. Penryn: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-37-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Earnshaw, Alan (1991). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 7. Penryn: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-50-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Earnshaw, Alan (1993). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 8. Penryn: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-52-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Haine, Edgar A. (1993). Railroad Wrecks. New York: Cornwall Books. ISBN 978-0-8453-4844-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Hall, Stanley (1990). The Railway Detectives. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0 7110 1929 0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Hewison, Christian H. (1983). Locomotive Boiler Explosions. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0 7153 8305 1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Hoole, Ken (1983). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 4. Truro: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-07-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jackson, Alan A. (1986). London's Metropolitan Railway. Newton Abbot, England: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-8839-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Karr, Ronald D. (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England - A Handbook of Railroad History. Branch Line Press. ISBN 978-0-942147-02-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Kidner, R. W. (1977) [1963]. The South Eastern and Chatham Railway. Tarrant Hinton: The Oakwood Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Leslie, Frank (1882-01-21). "Illustrated Newspaper". LIII (1, 374). New York: 1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Reed, Robert C. (1968). Train Wrecks - A Pictorial History of Accidents on the Main Line. New York: Bonanza Books. ISBN 978-0-517-32897-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Rich, Peggy Burton; Whitehurst, Marion Ann (1994). The Pickens Sentinel, Pickens Court House, South Carolina, 1872-1893, Historical and Genealogical Abstracts. Vol. 1. Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc. ISBN 978-1-55613-985-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Rolt, L.T.C.; Kichenside, Geoffrey (1982) [1955]. Red for Danger (4th ed.). Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 978-0-7153-8362-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  • Shepard, W. A. (1857). Full Details of the Railway Disaster of the 12th of March, 1857, at the Desjardin Canal on the Line of the Great Western Railway. W.A. Shepard.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Trevena, Arthur (1980). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 1. Redruth: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-01-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Trevena, Arthur (1981). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 2. Redruth: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-03-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Vaughan, Adrian (2003) [2000]. Tracks to Disaster. Hersham: Ian Allan. ISBN 0 7110 2985 7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wragg, David (2004). Signal Failure: Politics & Britain's Railways. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7509-3293-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

  • Pendleton, John (1896). Our Railways: Their Origin, Development, Incident and Romance, Chapter XL. Railway Disasters, 1840-1870. London: Cassell and Co., Ltd. External link in |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>