Discussion relating to the PRR, up to 1968. Visit the PRR Technical & Historical Society for more information.
  by Schuylkill Valley
Fill free in postting about train wrecks on any of the many branch lines that the PRR owned .

Last edited by Schuylkill Valley on Thu Apr 12, 2007 5:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by kevikens
I grew up in Phila. and got usd to many rail spots in the area as my father was a rail buff though he rarely took rail pictures on his old Argus C-3. I'll bet he wishes he had had that camera on that day in Sept. of 1943 when a GG1 hauled, wartime overloaded passenger train ( I think it may have been the Congo) roared past his window at the old SKF Ball Bearing Plant at Tulip and Aramingo Sts in the heart of Philly's wartime industrial complex. As he watched in horror, the consist, doing about 50mph as it prepared to enter into the long S curve between Ford and Shore,started smoking as one of the P 70's dveloped a hot box. As he was a metallurgist knowlegeable in the properties of ball bearings he knew what this would mean. Both he and several other workers scrambled to do something. Some tried calling the PRR headquarters at Broad St. one tried to get the operator at Ford who could have changed the three position signal there to stop (no radio phones yet). No luck on what the number was. One desperate worker tore out of the plant and jumped into his '39 Pontiac and ignoring a few red lights and some ten or twelve "Slow" signs (not yet Stop signs) tried to get to Ford tower before the Train ( it was about a mile from SKF to Ford). He almost caught up with the locomotive paralleling the street but just as he skidded into the driveway the consist sped past. He ran into the tower and tried to get the operator to contact Shore Tower about a mile further West . Too late. Just as the train enterd the curve the wheel jornal froze up, the car jumped the track and plowed into a catenary pole which split the car right down the center isle. The cars behind it smashed into that wreckage and the loss of life was heavy. Surprisingly, as my father related it, there was not much media coverage. Perhaps news of the War was more important or maybe war time censorship saw to it that the tragedy was played down. Much later as a railfan I would go to Frankford Junction to railfan. Everytime I would look at that spot I would recall my long gone father's attempt to catch that train and remember those passengers he could not save.

  by Schuylkill Valley
Thanks for the story . Dose anyone eles have any ?

Where was this spot located ? I go the Frankford Jct. a few times a year. I like that overhead walking bridge . real cool places to railfan.


  by Alloy
Wow, Kevikens, that's quite a story! I imagine you're right about the media downplaying tragedies like that during wartime. It would have been easy for rumors to spread about sabotage.

There was a derailment of a freight train at Spring Valley, Ohio, sometime in the late 50s. This was just outside Xenia, on the Cincinnati-to-Columbus line. I remember seeing the cars on either side of the track, but I never learned any more about it. I've posted this one before, I think, but no one had any details to add.

  by Schuylkill Valley
How many car freight train was it ?


  by Schuylkill Valley
The years is 1941, the place is Fricks Locks, Chester County,Pa. on the Schuylkill Valley branch .

On Dec. 9, 1941 at 2:40am. est. and a foggy morning, at Fricks Locks there was a bad wreck killing four railroad men and injuring one .

The Engineer of L-1 # 4030, the east bond, didn`t see that the switch was line for the passing siding, He ran into the back end of the other frieght sitting on the siding . Killing him self and three others. Their names were.
Engineer: Earl B. Hampton, 48 of Pottstown, Pa.
Fireman: Joseph E. Smith, 36 of Pottsville, Pa.
Breakman: John J. O`Brien, 50 of Pottsville, Pa.
Flagman: William E. Edward`s, 46 of Phoenixville, Pa.
and Injured Flagman: Harry Schweikert, 48 of Phoenixville, Pa.

Information from the Phoenixville news paper Co.

Engineer Earl B. Hampton was on the exter board that ill fated night , He was replacing Mr. Jhon Yost of Parker Ford,Pa. That called in sick .

Information from Mr. Yost`s Son Herb.


Here is a video clip of that Wreck in 1941.
http://www.dailymotion.com/Conrail6370/ ... eck-1941/1
Last edited by Schuylkill Valley on Thu Apr 12, 2007 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by Alloy
Len, I have no idea how many cars were on that freight. They shut down old U.S. 42, which used to cross the tracks down there. We couldn't get too close to the wreck.

I was probably 7 or so, and Spring Valley was about 35 miles from where we lived. So no one around our area talked about it much, and it probably didn't make our local paper.
  by kevikens
Len; As you stand on the pedestrian bridge look northeast about a hundred yards. That's the spot. For all I know the catenary beam that split the P 70 may still be in place. In a photo from the Phila. Bulletin you can see the wreck and it does not look the structure was much damaged.

  by Schuylkill Valley
Thanks Kevikens,

Next time I`m down there I`ll take a look around.

Ok we now take trip back in time for this next post.

On June 17, 1887, Passenger train No. 405 collided with freight train No. 517 near Parker Ford. Engineer John Paxson, of Norristown, who was in charge of the passenger train No. 405 noticed the freight dashing towards him on the long curve below Parker siding and immediately applied the breaks and throwing it into reversed . at the same time yelling at his fireman Charles DeHaven of Norristown to jump for his life!!

The engineer was not injured but the fireman was cought in the crash killing him. The passenger Train No.517 had 20 cars . The train was coming from Philadelphia .

Information from The Pottstown locale .


  by NJTRailfan
Let's not forget about the worst wreck in NJ history. The one in woodbridge durign the 1950s when the train derailed in Woodbridge killing between 40 and 50 passengers.

Finally after 50 yrs went by a memorial plaque was installed near by the crash site. I hope it has the full names of those who died listed with town/city.

Too bad the state or whoever didn't do the same for the 2nd worst wreck The CNJ at the now demolished Newark Bay Bridge. If that span was still around to host a lightrail/walking path rather then demolished a memorial would be there to honor the dead rather then those goons from Toyota and the USCG desicrating that site by tearing down our history.
  by Franklin Gowen
There's also the wreck near Fort Washington, PA in the mid-1950s. A PRR freight on the Trenton Cut-Off had a car that developed a hot-box, which was not stopped in time. The car derailed in the middle of the through-truss bridge which carried the PRR atop the Reading's Bethlehem Branch. The immediate impact, plus the resulting fire, was so severe that the entire bridge collapsed onto the RDG tracks below, dragging several freight cars down with it. Talk about collateral damage!

A temporary replacement bridge was soon built for the Trenton Cut-Off...one which was so "temporary" that it was not replaced until within the last decade. Bizarre...

  by Hostler
I remember three wrecks. The first was when the train crashed into Washington station just before the inaguration. I remember as a child that the TV station presented live coverage of the wreck's aftermath, what a mess it was. The station covered if for hours as I recall, it prempted all my favorite kids shows. It wasn't until many years later that I found out what I had watched on TV. Next around 77-78 there was a wreck between Rahway and MetroPark in the early morning. It seems a freight powered by GG-1 stalled west of Rahway. A second freight with GG-1s pulled up behind the first. Orders were given to give the first freighttoa push with the second freights G's. In the middle of the first freight were passenger cars that buckled and broke the air hose which applied the brakes on the first freight, this didn't stop the second freight right away until all the slack was taken up and the second freight came to an abrupt halt. The result, derailed cars on freight #1 and #2. The derailed cars on #2 were right in the middle of Metropark. Rather than derail left or right, the bowed upward toward the cantenary. At least four cars were still coupled but some feet off the ground. The reason I got a good look at all this was that they were still running commuter trains on the westbound local track. That evening, on returning home, they were still working on those cars. Finally there was a bad wreck at Metuchen and the late 70's. A hot box on a roller bearing journal froze and the wreck wiped out all four tracks. One car just stopped short of demolishing the station. I went down that evening to look around, saw three empty and split open tank cars parked in the station parking lot, a few cars on the side of the tracks just west of the station, trucks, wheel sets (some bent in a U-shape), sand, stone and other debris all over the place, it was a mess. In the newspaper is said a couple of cars actually went off the overpass and landed in the street. They actually removed all trackage for at least 1/4 mile and were just restoring the eastbound express track.

  by WNYRailfan
Well this is more of a mainline wreck...Does anyone know some information about the PRR wreck in Dunreith, IN? From some of the reports I have read it seems that this was very severe and semi-toxic to the environment. No EPA in 1968.

  by orangeline
Today I watched a video of old North Jersey railroading scenes. The tape ended with a 5 or so minute "newsreel"-type summary of the Woodbridge, NJ wreck of the Broker in 1951. Man, what a sad thing to see! The cameramen were not shy about filming priests and other religious leaders giving last rites to the dead and dying and the rescue squads collecting pieces of bodies for removal! The locomotive was number 2445. I couldn't make out the wheel arrangement, but assume that by 1951 only K-4s powered that train. I also assume it originated its run at the Jersey City Terminal.

In the film there were shots that looked like a broken wooden trestle was spanning a highway, but the clarity wasn't that great. At least one passenger car seemed to be hanging almost 1/2 way over the side of an embankment. Can anyone tell me what actually happened there more than 50 years ago?

  by kevikens
I am not completely sure on this but I believe that wooden trestle was a temporary one constructed to carry the line while a new bridge was being built. there was a slow order for the train but for whatever reason it was ignored and the train went onto the wooden trestle at speed and it broke up spilling the train onto the roadway. I understand that a conductor on board realized that they were going too fast as they approached the trestle and pulled the emergency cord, but too late. this wreck was, I think, ner Woodbridge. Hope this helps and I don't have my memories mixed up.