The West Penn Calamity

This article from the July 27, 1877 issue of the Pittsburgh Daily Post briefly accounts a court proceeding concerning a collision on the West Penn Railroad in which five men were killed.

Coroner's Inquest-Testimony of Trainmen-The Verdict.

Last evening Coroner Thomas held an inquest at his office on the bodies of Jacob Fails, Fred Louther, Al Price, Harry Hill and John McCarthy, who were killed by a collision on the West Penn railroad on Wednesday last. Among the witnesses who testified were J.D. Snyder, conductor of the Philadelphia express, P. McCarty, brakemen of the same train, A.G. Kennedy, engineer of the Blairsville mail train, H.M. Forrester, conductor of the same train, and J.L. Gaches, dispatcher of the road. The substance of all the testimony may be briefly stated as follows: The Philadelphia express, which was, previous to last Sunday, run on the Pennsylvania road, and was placed on the West Penn as a second class train. The Blairsville mail, which collided with the former, was a first class train which has been running on the West Penn road for years. First class trains are entitled to right of way, and all second class running on orders, as these were, must lay over on sidings until ordered to proceed further. The mail train therefore, had the right of way, and was entitled to proceed, while the Philadelphia express should have remained on the siding at Sharpsburg, which it failed to do, and the engineer thereof caused the collision, it is believed, by proceeding without orders. The jury afterr [sic] deliberating for half an hour, rendered the following verdict:

The deceased came to their death on July 23, 1873, near Sharpsburg, on the West Penn Railroad, by a collision on said road, caused by the pilot engineer, Jacob A. Fails, running past a station that he should have stopped at for the train coming west to pass.

About this Document

  • Source: The Daily Post
  • Date: July 27, 1877