100 Years Ago Today

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

Train Crash Kills 26 In Pennsylvania

The Ligonier Valley Rail Road in Pennsylvania opened in 1877, a 10-mile line that connected Ligonier to Latrobe. Around 1900 a 6-mile branch to Fort Palmer was built to link the coal mines and coke ovens north of Ligonier. There was no way for trains to turn around on this branch line so trains would back up from Ligonier to Fort Palmer and then travel forward on the way back.

On July 5, 1912 a coal train had derailed along the line. The crew called ahead to Ligonier to ask that the 3:20pm passenger train remain in the station to allow the freight train time to get back. The passenger train was a mix of workers heading to the mines returning home from July Fourth vacations after a day at the Wilpen Fair Grounds. Somehow the message never reached the passenger train in Ligonier. The passenger train left the station headed straight for an oncoming coal train. The trains met about 1 1⁄2 miles outside of Ligonier near the resort town of Wilpen, Pennsylvania on the only blind curve on the entire branch. A few minutes earlier or later and the engineers most likely could have averted the crash. The two engines of the coal train hit the engine of the passenger train and split the passenger car in half. The passenger car was made out of wood, so it was like crushing an eggshell with a hammer. For the second time in 2 days a fatal train accident claimed 26 lives and injured 29.

Ligonier Valley Railroad


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