1650, April and July[clarification needed] – England – Whickham, County Durham. Two boys die when they are run down by a wagon on a wooden coal tramway. While such tramway accidents are not generally listed as rail accidents (note the lack of accidents listed for the next 150 years) this is sometimes cited as the earliest known railway accident.
December 5, 1821 – United Kingdom – David Brook, a carpenter, is walking home from Leeds, Yorkshire along the Middleton Railway in a sleet storm when he is run over, with fatal results, by the steam engine of a coal train. This is the first case of a person being killed in a railway collision.
1827 – United Kingdom – An unnamed woman from Eaglescliffe, County Durham, England (believed to have been a blind beggar woman) is "killed by the steam machine on the railway". This is also said to be the first case of a person being killed in a railway collision, and the first case of a woman being killed.
August 11, 1837 – United States – The first head-on collision to result in passenger fatalities occurs on the Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad near Suffolk, Virginia when an eastbound lumber train coming down a grade at speed rounds a sharp curve and smashes into the morning passenger train from Portsmouth, Virginia. The first three of the thirteen stagecoach-style cars are smashed, killing three daughters of the prominent Ely family and injuring dozens of the 200 on board. They are returning from a steamboat cruise when the accident happened. An engraving depicting the moment of impact was published in Howland's Steamboat Disasters and Railroad Accidents in 1840.
December 24, 1841 – United Kingdom – Nine passengers are killed and seventeen are injured when a Great Western RailwayPaddington to Bristol train runs into a landslide in Sonning Cutting. The extent of the casualties in this accident calls into question the practice of mixing passenger and freight wagons in fast trains. The dead are stonemasons travelling in open wagons; they have no protection from either accidents or the weather, and the accident leads to a public outcry, and new legislation which insists on better carriages for passengers.
May 24, 1847 – United Kingdom – Five passengers are killed and nine are injured when the carriages of a Chester to Ruabon train falls 50 feet (15 m) into the River Dee following the collapse of a bridge. One of the supporting cast-iron girders had cracked in the centre and given way. The locomotive and tender manage to reach the other side of the bridge, which was engineered by Robert Stephenson. The accident causes his reputation to be questioned. The collapse leads to a re-evaluation of the use of cast-iron in railway bridges; many bridges have to be demolished or reinforced.
May 10, 1848 – United Kingdom – Six passengers are killed and thirteen are injured at Shrivenham, Berkshire when a Great Western Railway express train runs into two wagons on the line. The horse-box and cattle van had been pushed onto the main line by two porters to free a wagon turntable. Although the locomotive was undamaged, the side of the leading carriage was torn out.
August 29, 1855 – United States – A southbound Camden and Amboy Rail Road passenger train, backing up on a single track near Burlington, New Jersey, to make room for a northbound express, hit a horse-drawn carriage. The rearmost passenger car derailed, and the succeeding cars crashed into hit, derailed, and plunged into a ditch. All four passengers cars were demolished. Twenty-four people died, and between 65 and 100 were injured.
July 17, 1856 – United States – Two North Pennsylvania Railroad passenger trains are in a head-on collision at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Fifty-nine people are killed in the crash and subsequent fire, with over 100 people injured, some of whom consequently die. The conductor of one of the trains commits suicide the same day, although he is later absolved of any responsibility.
August 25, 1861 – United Kingdom – A London, Brighton and South Coast Railway excursion train crashes into the rear of another inside Clayton Tunnel, West Sussex due to a combination of driver, signalman's and operating errors. Twenty-three people are killed and 176 are injured in what was then the deadliest railway accident in the United Kingdom.
September 2, 1861 – United Kingdom – A North London Railway excursion train collides with a London and North Western Railway freight train at Kentish Town, Middlesex due to a signalman's error. Sixteen people are killed and 317 are injured.
February 19, 1863 – United Kingdom – A Mississippi Southern train headed for the battlefield at Vicksburg, where the Confederate forces are in desperate need of reinforcements in the defence of the city against the assault of Sherman and the Union Army, derails on a damaged bridge and falls into an icy creek. At least 40 passengers killed, others drowned, some rescued from the water by soldiers of the First Battalion of Choctaw Indians, stationed nearby.
July 15, 1864 – United States – An Erie Railroad passenger train carrying Confederate prisoners-of-war is in a head-on collision with a coal train near Shohola, Pennsylvania due to a dispatcher's error. Between 60 and 72 people are killed (official toll is 65 killed).
August 16, 1864 – United States – An Erie Railroad freight train runs into the rear of a passenger train between Turner's Station and Sloatsburg, New York. A third train runs into the wreckage. Seven people are killed.
December 18, 1867 – United States – The Buffalo-bound New York Express of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern derails its last coach, and it plunges off a truss bridge into Big Sister Creek just after passing Angola, New York. The next car is also pulled from the track and rolls down the far embankment. Stoves set both coaches on fire and 49 are killed.
April 23, 1869 – United States – Hollis, New York, United States: A Long Island Rail Road passenger train is derailed by a broken rail. The rail curls into a "snakehead" and rips out the bottom of one of the cars. Six people are killed and fourteen injured.
August 26, 1871 – United States – A series of dispatching errors allow the Eastern Railroad'sPortland Express to run into the rear of a stalled local train at Revere, Massachusetts. The wreckage catches fire; 29 people are killed and 57 are injured. Several prominent Boston citizens are killed bringing much national publicity to the accident.
September 10, 1874 – United Kingdom – Two Great Eastern Railway passenger trains are in a head-on collision at Thorpe St. Andrew, Norfolk. due to irregular dispatching preocedures. Twenty-five people are killed and more than 100 injured. The accident leads directly to the introduction of automatic control systems to manage traffic on single-track railways.
December 24, 1874 – United Kingdom – A Great Western Railway passenger train is derailed by a fractured wheel at Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire. Thirty-four poople are killed and 69 are injured. The lack of continuous brakes and poor communications exacerbates the disaster.
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Leslie, Frank (1882-01-21). Illustrated NewspaperLIII (1,374). New York. p. 1.
Reed, Robert C. (1968). Train Wrecks - A Pictorial History of Accidents on the Main Line. New York: Bonanza Books. ISBN978-0-517-32897-2.
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