Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Accident on Horse-Car of the Pelham Park Railroad Line in 1889

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a horse-drawn car line ran from the Bartow Station on the Branch Line to City Island.  An image of one of the horse-drawn cars taken from an early 20th century post card appears immediately below.

A surprisingly serious accident involving the horse-drawn car occurred in 1889.  There were allegations that the operator had been drinking, but an investigation concluded that he had merely driven the trolley recklessly.  An article about the accident appeared in the April 8, 1889 issue of the New-York Daily Tribune.  The article is quoted below, followed by a citation to its source.


A curious accident occurred yesterday on the Pelham Park Railroad, which runs between Bartow Station and City Island, resulting in several passengers being severely injured.  The 7 o'clock train yesterday morning on the Harlem River Branch Railroad had eight passenger cars, which were heavily loaded, most of the passengers being bound for City Island for a day's fishing.  The train reached Bartow Station at about 7:30, when the several hundred passengers, all of whom carried fishing-rods and baskets, got off to take the horse-cars from Bartow to City Island.  Six ordinary horse cars and two large flat cars, used for carrying freight, were at the station ready to convey the fishermen to their destination.

From fifty to sixty passengers got on the flat cars, which started first and were drawn by teams of horses.  Most of the passengers on the flat cars had to stand up.  The first flat car, which was driven by Terry Ferguson, while rounding the sharp curve within a short distance of the City Island Bridge, was overturned.  The passengers were thrown in every direction.  While some escaped without injury, several were severely hurt and many were more or less cut and bruised.  After considerable difficulty the following persons were rescued from under the car:  Jacob Hafelfinger, No. 444 West Thirty-eighth-st., New-York, injured internally; John Hass, No. 266 East Seventy-eighth-st., cut over the left eye and face badly bruised; Louis Loine, No. 138 East Third-st., right eye badly cut and face bruised; Frederick Kaliski, No. 513 Ninth-ave., face and head badly bruised; Charles Grotz, No. 511 Ninth-ave., left eye badly cut and contusions about the face.

All the persons injured were able to return to their homes in this city on the 5:37 train in the afternoon, with the exception of Hafelfinger, who remained at the hotel, his injuries being of a serious character.  President W. R. Lamberton and Superintendent Underhill arrived at the scene soon after the accident occurred, and did all in their power to alleviate the sufferings of the injured.  Those officers said that they had made a hurried investigation and had found that although Ferguson might have been guilty of reckless driving, he was not under the influence of liquor, as had been reported."

Source:  Injured by a Car Tipping Over, New-York Daily Tribune, Apr. 8, 1889, p. 7, col. 3.

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