Annapolis Junction, MD, Train Wreck, June 1869


Mr Julian A. SELBY, editor of the Columbia (S.C.) PHOENIX, was a passenger and was seated with a lady in the ladies' car, the second one that went off the track. His statement conveys an idea of the alarm and wonderful features of the scene, and especially the miraculousness of the escape from death and injury of so many. The locomotive, mail and baggage car ran some distance ahead before they were checked. The smoking car, filled with passengers, was thrown across the track, with one end elevated at least ten feet up the embankment, and turned completely upside down and wrecked, several of the occupants being seriously hurt. The ladies' car followed and was tolerably filled with passengers, mostly ladies and children. It was thrown on its side directly across the track, the ends resting on the banks on both sides of the track.

The scene presented was one never to be forgotten. Mr. SELBY says that hearing the noise of the car ahead running on the cross-ties and the breaking and creak as it went over, and feeling the jar of the car in which he was sitting, he braced himself in his seat, poising himself as the car went over. He seized hold of the seat with one hand, holding on to the lady in his company, and firmly supporting her with the other arm, and as the car was slued around and over on its side, individuals were indiscriminately tumbled pell-mell together upon the side which rested some three feet from the ground. Mr. SELBY found himself beneath a number of fellow passengers, male and female, who were soon struggling amid the din and alarm for extrication. In the catastrophe all the lights had been extinguished, and men, women and children were screaming at the top of their voices, and, all being in total darkness, no one could tell at the time the extent of the accident, or ascertain who had been injured, or who had escaped. There was no chance of egress from the car by the doors, its ends being embedded in the banks. Following the promptings of instinct, Mr. SELBY, who had maintained a pretty good position, and never lost his presence of mind, knocked out a window-sash, which he felt below him, with his foot, and creeping out from beneath the ruins, was at once in a position to relieve others. One after another, then, he received women and children in that car, as they were brought forward, and handed out by other male passengers. An aged lady fell through one of the windows and had her head badly cut, and an infant, and its colored nurse were hurt badly, but with these exceptions, the passengers in this car all escaped serious injury, although no one got off without bruises. The chair-car followed, and crashing against the dilapidated ladies' car, was also thrown on its side, and the passengers shared about the same fate of those in the ladies' car. The sleeping cars were also thrown off, but not upset, and no one in them was hurt. The President's car remained on the track, and none were disturbed in it.

The Daily Phoenix
Columbia, SC
13 June 1869, page 2