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.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Freight Train Wreck at Pelham Manor Station in 1896

There once stood on the New Haven Branch Line a lovely train station known as "Pelham Manor Depot".  The station stood at the end of today's Esplanade beyond Grant Avenue on the current Amtrak / Freight Line tracks near Manor Circle.  The station was razed in the 1950s in connection with the construction of I-95.

In 1896, a massive freight train wreck at the station smashed eighteen freight cars "into kindling wood".  The article below describes the wreck and is followed by a citation to its source.

Eighteen of Them on the New Haven Road Smashed Into Kindling Wood.
Train Hands Were More or Less Bruised, but No One Was Seriously Hurt.

In a freight wreck at Pelham Manor this morning eighteen cars were reduced to kindling wood and traffic was delayed for several hours.  Fortunately no one was seriously hurt.

A bad freight wreck occurred early this morning at Pelham Manor, on the Harlem branch of the New Haven Railroad.

An extra freight train, known as No. 8 in charge of Conductor William Flannagan, was on its way from New Haven to New York, and while passing the Pelham Manor station at about 12:27 A.M. a king pin in one of the cars became loosened and threw the forward cars off the track.

Eighteen freight cars were smashed into kindling wood, and the freight and wreckage were strewn along the track for many yards.  A portion of the platform in front of the Pelham Manor station was torn away.  Several coal cars on a side track, consigned to Joseph English, were thrown over and partly wrecked. 

The train hands received a lively shaking up, and some of them were more or less bruised, but no one was seriously hurt. 

The Washington express train used the Harlem branch to reach 129th street, where the trains are transferred on Pennsylvania floats to Jersey City.  The Washington express came along at about one A.M., and could not get past Pelham Manor on account of the wreck.  The train had to back up to New Rochelle, where it remained on a side track until eight o'clock this morning, when the track was cleared.  The passengers on the Washington express were in their berths and got up to investigate the cause of the delay.  Many of them walked down to Pelham Manor to view the wreck.

The Washington express from Washington, after leaving the float at 129th street, also had to come to a stop on reaching Pelham Manor and wait until the track was cleared.

The accident caused a serious delay on all the trains running on the local tracks of the New Haven road.  The express trains had to use the local track and this stalled the local trains.  The damage caused by the accident will amount to several thousand dollars."

Source:  Freight Cars in a Wreck, The Evening Telegram - New York, May 7, 1896, p. 3, col. 3.

Scene of the Pelhamville Train Wreck that Occurred on the New Haven
Main Line About a Decade Earlier than the 1896 Freight Train Wreck 
Near the Pelham Manor Depot.  
Source: A Remarkable Railroad Accident, Scientific American, 
Jan. 16, 1886, Vol. LIV, No. 3, cover and pp. 31-32.

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