Monday, February 18, 2013

The Great Train Wreck of 1856

Ambler, Pennsylvania 
What's in a name? 
Well, in this case, quite a bit.

On a hot day in July 1856 the kids of 
St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church 
of Kensington, Philadelphia
were looking forward to escaping the heat by train 
for a picnic in Shaeff's Woods in Wissahickon, PA. 

The train was carrying between 1,100-1,500 people 
straining the steam engine pulling 10-12 passenger cars behind. 
The train was running late due to the time needed to  
load all the passengers 
as well as the time it took to build steam pressure along the way.

A train engineer leaving from the Wissahickon Station
in the opposite direction 
waited the customary time for the "Picnic Special" excursion train 
to make its way through a shared section of single track.

However, the engineer of the "Picnic Special" never telegraphed 
about his delays because he believed he could make up the lost time.

Both trains proceeded on course.
Along a blind curve on the single track 
the trains collided in the early morning hours.

Introduce a Quaker woman living near the Wissahickon Station:
Mary Ambler. 
She gathered supplies and hurried to the scene. 
Her help was so notable that the train station was renamed
Ambler Station in her honor.

Twenty years later, the town's name was also changed 
from Wissahickon to Ambler.

This was the largest train wreck if it's time 
killing between 59-67 and injuring up to 100 more.

Sadly, the engineer from Wissahickon assumed guilt and commited suicide.
He was absolved of guilt but it was too late. 

The photos have nothing to do with the train wreck. 
They were taken at GATSME Model Railroad Club 
in Fort Washington, PA. 

Image result for ambler pa map


Out on the prairie said...

I love to travel on trains. I see a few hobbyists having a hard time to assemble the diaramas like this.

EG CameraGirl said...

This post is a super way to show the history of Ambler and explain how Ambler got its name. I hope the model railroad club finds a new home quickly.

Tamar SB said...

Wow! What a cool post! I know the area but never knew the history! I grew up skiing at Elk Mt and one of my favorite slopes was called Wissahickon!

Unknown said...

Fascinating post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Susan Anderson said...

What an interesting story, albeit not a very happy one.

Holly Myers said...

Interesting! You kept our curiosity with these pictures.

Unknown said...

Wow, thank you for this little history lesson : ) I will share it with Kaishon. So glad you could join us today for Tuesdays Around the World. We are glad to have you. Hope you are doing well : ). Love, Becky

Dianne said...

I love learning how places got their names

great shots!

and yes, all the work being done at the marina is due to damage from Sandy

Anonymous said...

That was very interesting!

Joyful said...

Interesting story of a sad event. I love the model train set and station. Visiting you from Our World Tuesday. Would love to have a return visit ;-)

Meta said...

Vilken trevlig modellbana, den skulle min man gilla att se.
Ha en fin kväll
Kram Meta

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Thanks for the history lesson. She was a very brave soul and deserving of the honor of having a town named after her.

Anonymous said...

I have been saving this post to comment on because I really really enjoyed it..both the photos and the post. Very, very nice and intriguing way to present the past. Love your new header also!!

mail4rosey said...

Kudos to the lady who rushed to help, and how sad for the gentleman who was absolved in the other case.

I'm visiting you today from Thursday's Favorite Things.

Driftwood and Pumpkin said...

That was a fascinating history! Amazing the love model train enthusiasts have for their art. Thanks for capturing and sharing it with us.

Andi said...

Sad and nice story at the same time. Do hope they find a new home for the train The pictures are so real looking andi

Karen @ Beatrice Euphemie said...

Hi Rebecca, that is a very tragic and interesting story on the history of Ambler and how it got it's name. I love the photos of the miniature trains, too! My girlfriend's husband just retired as a train conductor and he has many stories, too. He would love this one! Thanks for visiting - I am now a follower, too. xxoo

Lisa Lynn said...

Thanks for the history lesson! Very sad lesson, but I'm glad to read it. Thanks so much for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you tomorrow on the next Creative HomeAcre hop!