100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Train Crash Kills 39 In New York

Automatic Block Signaling is a system that consists of a series of signals that divide a railway line into a series of blocks. It controls the movement of trains between the blocks through automatic signals. This allows trains running in the same direction to follow each other in a safe manner without risk of rear end collision.

On July 4, 1912 at 3.50am a freight train left Elmira, New York with 55 car. It experienced problems and at 4:46am pulled into a siding outside Corning, New York. A coupling broke leaving several cars on the main line. A passenger train behind the disabled freight train came to a halt and sent one of its 2 locomotives to help push the stranded cars onto a siding.

An 8 car mail express train ignored 2 signals and plowed into the back of the halted passenger train at a speed of 60mph. The rear coach was completely destroyed and the next car was telescoped into the third (wooden) car from the end through two-thirds of its length. The mail express cars brought down the telegraph poles on both sides of the track and it was an hour before news of the disaster reached Corning. 39 were killed and 88 injured. Witnesses are reporting that the mail train engineer appeared to be drunk.

Destroyed passenger train outside Corning, New York
July 4, 1912

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