New Cumberland, PA Train Wreck, Jan 1857

Railroad Accident.

An accident of rather a serious nature occurred yesterday on the Northern Central Railway, at New Cumberland, about four miles this side of Harrisburg. It was caused by a bridge crossing a stream at this place having been fired, as is supposed by a spark from a hurthen[sic] train, and occurred to the train which left Baltimore at 8 o'clock in the morning for Harrisburg, under the charge of Captain RADCLIFFE. He having been notified at York, by Captain JOHN SLADE, of the down passenger train, of the burning of the bridge, was approaching it very slowly, and carefully, and being on the lookout he discovered that the train was approaching too closely and signaled the engineer to reverse his engine and jumped from the train, falling down the embankment and receiving some slight injury. At almost the same instant the engine went over the edge of the old bridge, and breaking loose from the train tumbled into the stream below, carrying the engineer, MR. JOHN GERBRICK, down with it – the fireman saving himself by jumping off. As the engine went down it from some cause exploded, and is so wrecked as to be almost useless. The engineer was so seriously injured that but slight hopes are entertained of his recovery. He was taken to a private house near by, where he is receiving every attention.

The engine was the new one lately put upon the road, the John H. Done, and was a valuable piece of machinery. The cause of the accident was from some derangement in the reversing gear of the engine, as the fireman says that when he jumped off the engineer was using every exertion to reverse the engine, but without avail. When he was rescued from the wreck he still had hold of the reversing lever. He was one of the most trusty engineers in the service of the company, and the conductor of the train affirms his having been running very carefully in approaching the stream, showing the accident to have been caused by the gearing of the engine not having worked properly.
-- Baltimore Sun of Thursday.

The Republican Compiler Pennsylvania 1857-01-12