In Re investigation of accident which
occurred on the Lehigh Valley
Railroad, Near Rookport,
Pa., on November 12,
On November 12, 1914, there was a derailment on the Lehigh Valley Railroad Near Rookport, Pa.,
resulting in the injury of 36 passengers, 2 of whom afterwards died, and a employees. After investigation of
this accident, the Ohief of the Division of Safety reports as follows:
The train involved in this accident was eastbound passenger train No. 2, on route from Buffalo, W.
Y., to Jersey City, N. J., It consisted of one coach, one combination baggage and smoking car, one coach,
three Pullman sleeping cars and one baggage car, in the order named, hauled by locomotive No. 201s and was
in charge of conductor Bontley and Engineman Knapp. All the cars were of all-steel construction excepting
the first sleeping car and the baggage car, which were of wood. Train No. 2 left ***-Barre, Pa., at 5.37
a.m., 40 minutes late, passed Tannery, the last open telegraph office, 32 miles distant from ***-Berre, at
6.40 a.m., 35 minutes late, and at 6.47 a.m. was derailed nearly opposite and run station, about five miles
beyond Tannery, while running at a speed estimated to have been about 50 miles per hour.
After derailment the engine, which was the first to be derailed, crossed the westbound track and
went down the embankment on the left side of the track, the tender stopping at a point about 50 feet beyond
the engine on the same side of the track. The first car in the train slid and-wife down the steep embankment
on the right side of the track, while the second, and third cars went off the track on the left side, one end
of each remaining on the roadway. The fourth car fouled the westbound track, tilted to one side at an angle
of about 40 degrees. With the exception of the forward tracks of the fifth car, none of the remaining cars
in the train was derailed.
This part of the Lehigh valley is a double-track line, train movements being protested by the
automatic block signal system. The track is laid with 100-pound rails 33 feet in length, with about 18 or 19
untreated oak ties under each rail, double-spiked or one side and single-spiked on the oather. Tie planes
and anti-fall creepers are used on all ties. The ballast is of crushed stone about 12 inches in thickness,
with about 4 feet of cinder filling underneath. The point of derailment was near the middle of the curve of
10 degrees leading to the right, 1288 feet in length, on a descending grade for eastbound trains of about
one-half of percent.
The first indications of derailment found on the track were at a point about 1165 feet east of the
station where the leaving end of a rail on the outside of the curve had been torn loose. The following rail
had been torn out while the next three or four rails were bent or broken. The inside rail remained intact
The track was examined with track gauge and level for a distance of 500 feet west of the point of
derailment, while track levels were taken for an additional distance of 2000 feet west thereof. This
examination showed the maximum gauge to be 4 feet, 6 15/16 inches, with a minimum of 4 ft. 8 1/2 inches. The
track levels varied in proportion to the curvature, the superelevation at the point of derailment being 7
9/16 inches. The section force in charge of the section in which the accident occurred, which is 3 3/4 miles
in length, consists of a foreman, assistant foreman, seven laborers and two trackwalkers. The track is
patrolled night and day by the trackwalkers. The night trackwarkers stated that at about 5.45 a.m. be passed
the point where train No. 2 was afterwards derailed, at which time be found nothing wrong with the track.
The Division Engineer, Engineer of Maintenance of way, and section Foreman, as well as the Inspectors of
the Commission, made careful examination of the track but could find. nothing which could possibly have
caused the derailment.
The Assistant superintendent of Motive Power stated that he examined the engine tracks, wheel ***
and such other parts as could be found and also made a thorough examination of the driving wheels, trailing
wheels, etc., but found nothing which he thought could have caused the derailment, neither did he find
anything that dropped from the engine and caused the derailment. From his statement it further appeared that
bat *** Pa., the point at which locomotive No. 8019 was attached to train No. 2, careful inspection was
made before it started out on its run and it/was in good condition at that time.
When interviewed at the hospital, Engineman Knapp stated that before starting on this run he
examined the locomotive and found it to be in good condition. Starting around the curve approaching the
point of derailment the speed of his train was about 50 miles per hour, at which time the engine was not
working steam and the air brakes had been knocked off both cylinder cocks and at the same time the locomotive
lurched heavily to one side. He at case applied the emergency air brakes; something struck him and he
remembered nothing more.
The testimony of the other employees on this train shed no additional light as to the cause of the
accident, while the statements of every one concerned indicated that Engineman Knapp was not operating his
train in excess of the speed of 30 miles per hour allowed while rounding this curve.
The cause of this accident could not be definitely determined. The track was found to be in good condition
and the superelevation of the outside rail of the curve was sufficient for the rate of speed at which the
evidence showed this train was running at the time of the derailment. Although nothing was found that could
have caused the derailment, yet from the statement of the engineman it would appear that the locomotive must
have run ever some obstruction on the track, *** on the outside rail of the curve, which caused the driving
wheels of the locomotive to raise up enough to clear the outside rail.