Reading, PA Gravity Railroad Wreck, Aug 1890

Reading PA Gravity RR Car..jpg Reading PA Top of Gravity RR.jpg

DEATH WAS PILOT.

AN AWFUL RIDE DOWN A PENNSYLVANIA MOUNTAIN.

DASHES DOWN THE LINE AT THE SPEED OF LIGHTNING AND PILES ITS HUMAN FREIGHT AT THE BOTTOM MANGLED, BROKEN AND DEAD --
FOUR OF THE PASSENGERS INSTANTLY KILLED AND THIRTEEN WOUNDED, MOST OF THEM TOE DEATH.

Reading, Pa., Aug. 23. -- A horrible accident occurred yesterday forenoon shortly before 11 o'clock on the Mount Penn Gravity Railroad, a mountain route encircling Mount Penn, 800 feet above the city of Reading. The road was opened five months ago, and has been doing a good business ever since. The cars were taken from a point on the outskirts of the city to the top of the mountain, a distance of five miles. On returning the cars were allowed to go down the mountain by gravity, by way of another route, to the point of starting.

The Passenger Car Gets Away.
Yesterday about 10:30 o'clock a car containing about eighteen passengers was taken from the station to the top of the mountain. This consumed about thirty minutes. On top of the mountain there is a high stone tower where the passengers were allowed to alight to enjoy the scenery for thirty miles around. This time, before the passengers could get off, the car got away in some manner and started down the grade. It went down the incline like a flash, the brake wouldn't work from some unknown reason, and at the end of the line the car was reduced to kindling wood. How any of the passengers escaped alive is a mystery; as it is the casualty list is bad enough.

Four Killed, Thirteen Badly Hurt.
Four persons were killed by the accident, namely:
CHARLES RETTEW, conductor.
EDGAR M. LEVAN, lawyer.
MISS ROSA HEIFFER, all of Reading.
MISS HARRIET HINCKLE, of Philadelphia.
The following is a list of the worst wounded:
MRS. WM. A. H. SCHEMEHL, badly cut and suffering with concussion of the brain, cannot recover.
WILLIAM SCHEMEHL, both legs badly fractured, will probably die.
MRS. SCHITLER, terribly mangled and unconscious.
MISS KATE HOMAN, seriously hurt about the head, not expected to live.
MISSES BESSIE and KATIE KELLEY, both badly injured.
CORNELIUS HANLON, of Wissahickon, suffering with concussion of the brain.
MRS. CORNELIUS HANLON, badly cut and bruised.

Continued on Page 2.