Columbia, PA Terrible Trolley Crash, Aug 1896
HORROR OF HORRORS.
AN AWFUL TROLLEY SLAUGHTER.
SIX PERSONS KILLED AND OVER THREE-SCORE SERIOUSLY INJURED.
CHICKIES PARK CAR'S FATAL RUN.
IT GO'S BEYOND THE MOTORMAN'S CONTROL AND DASHES DOWN GRADE TO DESTRUCTION AT A FRIGHTFUL PACE.
SCENES OF DEATH AND ANGUISH.
A SUNDAY NIGHT CALAMITY WITHOUT PRECEDENT IN LOCAL ANNALS.
The most horrible accident that has yet happened in this vicinity wince the introduction of electric railways occurred on Sunday night near Columbia, on the Columbia and Donegal trolley road. Six persons lost their lives and sixty-two other persons were injured, several of whom are in such a serious condition that death may result.
It is remarkable, considering all the circumstances that the fatality was not greater. Columbia became wild with excitement when the news reached the place, and, though the news did not reach Lancaster until after midnight, it created much excitement here, too.
The Crowds at Chickies Park.
An unusually large number of people repaired to Chickies Park, on the line of the trolley road, during the afternoon to enjoy a little fresh air, and when the storm came up at 9:30 o'clock everybody was anxious to get home. The running of cars was somewhat delayed by the storm, and the first to leave the park was No. 61, a special, which came down past the pleasure resort from Marietta. In a few minutes it was packed by a crowd of probably a hundred people, who literally fought to get aboard. So tightly were they packed in that one of the passengers, ORRICK RICHARDS, of Columbia, stated today that he was pressed upon so tightly that he suffered pain in consequence. Both platforms were packed and Motorman ADAM FOEHLINGER had scant room to attend to his important duties. It was particularly unfortunate that he should have been so crowded upon this motorman's platform should be kept perfectly clear. It is stated that FOEHLINGER examined the rigging under the car before leaving the park at ten o'clock, fixing something there. After doing this he remarked that everything was all right. On this road are the worst grades and curves of any line in the county, none of the other lines, in fact, having anything to compare in this respect. That some terrible accident has not occurred before on the line through the speed with which cars run is a matter for congratulation, and that one did happen at last is a matter of no surprise, for it has long been expected by the people of Columbia and Marietta and by persons residing elsewhere who have to use that line frequently. The car, which was in charge of HARRY HERSHEY, a clerk of the company who was acting in the capacity of conductor, made the run to Klinesville, when it was signalled to stop to allow two lady passengers to alight. The tracks were slippery from the late rain, and it is also said were made worse by the myriads of potato bugs crawling on the rails, and the car run several hundred feet before it was stopped. It was run back to Klinesville, and after dropping its passengers started down the heavy grade again towards Columbia. Its speed becoming too great, the motorman reversed the electric current, and in doing this the gear wheel broke. Passengers immediately after felt the car thumping, and as a rumor of danger floated through the crowd it became panic-stricken. At once nearly everybody tried to bolt from the car, but a few cool-headed persons called out a warning.
As he realized the danger, Motorman FOEHLINGER gasped out, "My God! we are lost."