Elk Ridge Landing, MD Disastrous Railroad Wreck, July 1856



From the Baltimore Sun, July 8.
A shocking railroad accident, and one of the most disastrous that has taken place in this vicinity for a long time, occurred yesterday afternoon on the Washington Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. As the 4 1/2 o'clock train from Washington was on its way to this city, and under charge of Conductor GEORGE W. HOOVER, it was thrown from the track near Elk Ridge Landing, about one mile and a half beyond the Relay House, the result being the killing of two persons, wounding of thirteen others, and the almost complete wrecking of the whole train, which consisted of eight cars, only two of which remain uninjured.
In occurred at a switch a short distance beyond the landing, and from the appearance of the switch it had been designedly displaced, the lock showing marks of having been hammered off, while the pins of the bolts which confined the switch-handle to the track had been removed. The rails of the sideling had then been forced over against the main track, and the engine striking the ends, it was broken loose from the train and ran down the sideling. The force with which it struck these rails forced them from the main track, and the cars continued on down the same.
The engine and tender, after running some ten to fifteen yards down this sideling, were overturned by the broken rails and thrown directly across the main track, when the whole train was dashed upon them. The first car which struck it, a baggage car, turned entirely over it and was broken up, the contents being strewn in every direction. The next, also a baggage car, was thrown entirely from the track and wrecked. The next, a mail and express car, was thrown upon the top of the wreck of the others and broken into fragments. The smoking car came next, and this was cut in twain by a passenger car in the rear, which ran directly through it. Both these cars were shivered to pieces, the latter being thrown directly upon the top of the former. About one-third of the next passenger car was torn off by coming in contact with those in advance of it, while the end of the next was stove in. The two remaining cars in the rear were uninjured. Those wounded were, for the most part, in the smoking and first passenger car. The engine and tender are as perfect a wreck as could be possibly made.
The following is an accurate list of the killed and wounded, so far as it was possible to obtain them amid the attendant confusion and excitement:

JAMES GOLON, the engineer. He was aged about 35 years, resided in the western section of the city, and leaves a wife and several children. It appears that after the engine left the main track he reversed it and jumped off, but was caught beneath one of the baggage cars and mashed and terribly mutilated. He was no doubt instantly killed, as one of the wheels of the car had cut his body in twain. It was some hours before his body could be recovered from the wreck. Some have said he met with another accident upon this road, by which one of his legs was broken, and he was otherwise some was injured. He was regarded by the others on the road as one of their most trusty and experienced engineers.
The other party killed was WM. A. NAUGLE, a young man aged about 29 years, who was engaged upon the train reading books and papers. He was, at the time, standing upon the platform of the smoking car, and was caught beneath the wreck of the baggage car, directly in advance of it. When taken from the wreck he was still alive, but unconscious, and survived only some ten or fifteen minutes. He resided in South Pace Street, near Warner, and leaves a wife and two children. He served in the Baltimore Regiment during the Mexican War and was an officer of the company of Maryland Volunteers, which is composed of a portion of that brave band.

WM. BRIDGES, a wholesale confectioner on Baltimore, near Liberty Street. His injuries consist of a wound in the side, the mashing of his right arm, besides serious internal injury. Although seriously hurt, his condition is not considered dangerous.
CAPT. GEO. W. HOOVER, conductor. He was much bruised about the body, besides being considerably injured by the steam which escaped from the broken boiler.
JOHN RUSSELL, the fireman. He jumped from the engine, and in falling had one arm broken, besides receiving a number of painful wounds about the body and head.
JACOB GEOFF, baggage-master. He was standing upon the platform of the smoking car, beside NAUGLE, who was killed, and in jumping off received a painful wound upon his head and a number of bruises about his body.
WM. PLUMMER, supervisor upon the road, was considerably hurt by being thrown from a platform, receiving a painful contusion upon one of his hips.
WILLIAM WORTHINGTON, ESQ., a member of the Annapolis Bar, had one of his feet considerably injured by being caught in the wreck of the first passenger car.
HARRIET HUBLEIGH, an aged colored woman, had one of her legs horribly mangled by a splinter, besides receiving severe bruises upon her body.
JULIA JORDAN, a colored woman, in the employ of Alexander Butcher, had one of her hands mashed.
A gentleman passenger from the West, whose name we did not obtain, had one hand mashed, and also received a painful wound upon one leg from a splinter.
One young lady and three other gentlemen also received slight injuries.
So far as we could ascertain, the above composes a complete list of the injured, or at least so far as the same was observable, a number of persons, however, receiving trifling injuries whose names do not appear.
For a short time after the crash the wildest excitement ensued, it being supposed by those in the rear that the affair was even more serious than it proved, from the frightful appearance of the wreck. It is indeed a wonder that a greater number were not killed and injured, as the train was very full of passengers.
The jury on the accident, rendered a verdict that the train was thrown off the track by the misplacement of the switch by some person unknown. The company have offered a reward of $2,000 for the arrest of the guilty party.

New York Daily Times New York 1856-07-10