Baltimore, MD Train Wreck, Jul 1854





One of the most appalling accidents which ever occurred in our midst, happened yesterday afternoon, near the city, on the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad.
Early yesterday morning a large number of excursionists repaired to Rider's Grove, 9 miles out on the railroad, to spend the day. The accident occurred about one mile this side of the grove, between the outward train for New York and one of those trains containing a portion of the excursionists on their way to the city.
The scene of the accident was a curve of the road about midway between the Relay House and Rider's Grove.
Three trains, full of ladies and gentlemen, with children, left the city during the day, to participate in the celebration. Returning, one of the trains left for Baltimore at two o'clock, another started at five, and the third, with which the accident occurred, at about fifteen minutes later.
At 25 minutes past 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon the regular train for New York left Calvert Station, consisting of four passenger cars and a baggage car - all with the exception of the last car were filled with passengers. MR. WILLIAM SCOTT was conductor, accompanied by MR. HOLLINS, and other officers of the road, who were repairing to Rider's Grove to assist in the arrangements for the safe return of the excursionists.
On arriving at the Relay House, the New York train, according to orders, proceeded to lay off on the Green Spring switch, where the instructions were that it should wait until the excursion train or trains passed. The express train from New York, due early in the day, which had been thrown out of time, was waiting at the Relay, and after it had passed down toward Baltimore, we waited for one excursion train, of about sixteen cars, crowded to excess, which passed without giving any information to the conductor that two other trains were coming, which unfortunately proved to be the case.
The road being now supposed to be clear, the New York train again took the main track, and proceeded on, and had scarcely got full under way, when, about three-quarters of a mile from the Relay, and about a mile from Rider's a terrible crash, accompanied by a rush of steam, brought all who were uninjured to their feet, and on escaping from the wrecked cars, a most heart-rending scene presented itself, that it were impossible to describe in all its horrors.
The locomotive attached to the excursion train, was behind, pushing the cars; that attached to the other train, was in front, and literally plowed its way into the cars, loaded with passengers, in front.
About half a dozen cars were crashed and shivered to atoms, and a large number of their unhappy inmates either killed upon the spot or dreadfully injured. The scene is described as harrowing to the last degree. Several of those killed and wounded were so caught in the wreck of the broken cars, that they could not be released for a considerable time.
Axes and crow-bars were brought into requisition, and those alive and unhurt made super-human efforts for their relief. The cry for water from the sufferers was continual, and several persons were engaged constantly in supplying them. It was not, however, until the locomotive attached to the excursion train had been attached to the crippled mass, that the dead and wounded were got out.
A large number of those who escaped walked to town, while others came in whatever vehicle could be obtained.
The center of the foremost car was filled with the dead, dying and wounded, all wedged together in one mass with the fragments of the car and the seats, so compact that it required a half hour's time and the use of axes to rescue the wounded. A number of females and children were taken out from among the dead scarcely injured, whilst through the door of the car could be seen the protruding limbs of some who had been instantly struck dead.
Among the dead in the center of this car was MRS. ROBINSON, named in the list below, a young and beautiful woman, and HENRY CLAY JEFFERS, the son, of Madison Jeffers, a bright and beautiful boy, the bodies of whom were so wedged among the fragments of the two cars, which had been run through each other like telescope, that is was impossible to extricate them, without hauling off the fragments of the upper car by the locomotive, which was also necessary to release the large number of unfortunate creatures who still remained wedged between the forward cars, some still alive and others dead. In removing the cars MRS. ROBINSON'S body was literally torn to pieces, but in the effort to recover those in whom life still remained it became necessary to disregard the dead.