Congressional Limited Accident at SHORE Interlocking Sept. 6, 1943
Congressional Limited Accident at SHORE Interlocking Sept. 6, 1943
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Frankford Junction Train Wreck

One hundred and fifty persons were reported killed and more than 90 injured in the wreck of the Congressional Limited, fastest train of the Pennsylvania Railroad, in northeast Philadelphia tonight. The estimate was made two hours after the accident by MATTHEW A. ROSS, chief deputy coroner. A priest who entered on of the cars to administer last rites to the dying, said there were 75 persons in the car and he believed at least half of them were dead. Many were still trapped in the cars, and acetylene torches were being used in an effort to cut an opening through to them. Every available ambulance was rushed to the scene at the request of railroad officials, and police were dispatched to nearby hospitals to straighten out "traffic congestions" in the emergency wards.

Thousands of spectators gathered watching in horror as searchlights played on the demolished cars.

"I never heard such crying and screaming before," said Norman Ebinger, an air raid warden. "We heard the crash and rushed up with our first aid equipment. There were at least 50 people strewn all over the tracks, many of them with their arms and legs broken.

"The panic was terrible. The screams of the injured and dying cut right through me."

One hundred and fifty persons were reported killed and more than 90 injured in the wreck of the Congressional Limited, fastest train of the Pennsylvania Railroad, in northeast Philadelphia tonight.

The estimate was made two hours after the accident by MATTHEW A. ROSS, chief deputy coroner.

A priest who entered on of the cars to administer last rites to the dying, said there were 75 persons in the car and he believed at least half of them were dead.

Many were still trapped in the cars, and acetylene torches were being used in an effort to cut an opening through to them.

Every available ambulance was rushed to the scene at the request of railroad officials, and police were dispatched to nearby hospitals to straighten out "traffic congestions" in the emergency wards.
Railroad officials said six cars were derailed -- two coaches, a twin diner unit and two pullmans.

Frankford Hospital reported shortly after the accident that if was "full of injured" and could take no more. Many others were taken to Northeast and Episcopalian Hospitals.

The train left Washington at 4 P. M. (EWT) and was due in New York at 7:35. It makes no stops between the capital and the metropolis.

Four wrecking trains were sent to the scene. The six wrecked cars were tossed crosswise on the railroads's main line. Trains were detoured over the Reading lines.

Everything appeared in order as the train passed through North Philadelphia station ahead of schedule and slowed its speed, but shortly afterwards as it passed a rail yard, workers noticed flames coming from a journal box on one of the cars (a condition known as hot box) and rang the next signal tower at Frankford Junction but the call came too late. Before the tower man could react disaster struck as the train passed his signal tower at 6.06 pm travelling at a speed of 56 mph: the journal box on the front of car #7 seized up and an axle snapped, catching the underside of the bogie and sending the car catapulting upwards. It struck a signal gantry peeling off its roof along the line of windows "like a can of sardines". Car #8 wrapped itself around the gantry upright in a figure U. The next six cars were scattered at odd angles over the tracks, the last two cars remained undamaged, bodies of the 79 dead lying scattered over the tracks. It was wartime so many servicemen home on leave were aboard who helped the injured, workers from the nearby Cramps shipyard arrived with acetylene torches to cut open cars to rescue the injured, a process which took until the following morning. The rescue work was directed by mayor Bernard Samuel. The work of removing the dead was not complete until 24 hours after the accident.