Camp Hill, PA Train Wreck, Jul 1856

Etching of the Disaster CAMP HILL PA WRECK 1856

Under the ruins the bodies of some fifteen or eighteen persons could be seen. No portion of them could be reached, but their limbs - here a leg protruded and there an arm, or a head could be discovered. The cars could be seen burning for a distance of four miles, and the Chestnut Hill Fire Company hastened to the spot, their exertions in extinguishing the flames, served materially in the work of rescuing the dead.

As the train of baggage cars sent up from the City approached the spot, the scene beggared all description. Some from the City who had friends on the excursion, jumped out before the train stopped and sought their friends, who, too often, were dead or horribly mutilated. Their shrieks would mingle with those of the dying. Men left their work for miles around an came to the spot and rendered all the assistance in their power. --- Many were helping to remove the locomotive, under which were many bodies. The heat was so intense, that it was almost impossible to render any assistance to those in the ruins.

It is evident that the blame lies at the door of VANSTAVOREN, the conductor of the down train, who, against his instructions and contrary to the advice of a number of persons, left the Fort Washington Depot when he knew the excurtion[sic] train could not have been much more than a mile distant. Then the engineers of both trains are to blame for approaching so sharp a curve without blowing the whistle. Overwhemled[sic] by the consequences of his recklessness VANSTAVOREN put a period to his existence by taking arsenic.

The Evening Bulletin says:
"The suicide of the conductor of the down train is one of the tragic incidents of this terrible affair. MR. VANSTAVOREN, after the accident, procured a vehicle and came to the city with the dreadful news. He received no bodily injury by the collision, but when he reached the city he was in a very high state of excitement, and he hinted at an intention to destroy his own life. This was subsequently put into execution. In the course of the afternoon he procured an ounce of arsenic and swallowed it; he soon afterward expired, notwithstanding the exertions of several physicians to save him. MR. V., was but twenty-nine years of age; he was unmarried, and resided with his brother in Buttonwood street, above Tenth. The deceased was much respected by a very large circle of friends, and he enjoyed the confidence of his employers in the fullest degree.

From the Evening Argus, July 19.
The funeral of many of the victims of the late Railroad disaster took place this morning. The funeral services of the REV. DANIEL SHERIDAN, and High Mass were performed in the church of St. Michael's, in the presence of an immense concourse of people. Long before the hour fixed for the commencement of the services, the church was crowded and there were thousands without who were unable to obtain admission. The ceremonies were of a most solemn and impressive character. Several of out prominent clergymen officiated, including the REV. DR. MORIARTY.

The remains of another body was recovered yesterday at about 12 o'clock. It was found under a piece of sheet iron, and was apparently that of a young girl of about 17 years of age. The only remains left were a back bone, the heart and liver; they were brought to the city at 5 ½ o'clock yesterday evening, by the Coroner.

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