Date Event
First iron truss bridge in the nation completed in Pennsylvania
English-style railroad coaches go into service in Massachusetts
First railroad that will run west of the Mississippi is incorporated
The first railroad west of the Mississippi makes its inaugural run
Biggest railroad merger to date takes place in New York
New York Central Railroad begins operation
The first railway service across the isthmus of Panama opens
The Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge opens for rail traffic
First railroad bridge across the Mississippi River completed
New railroad completed linking Jackson, Mississippi with New Orleans
Minnesota bond issue brings in $2,275,000
Five killed in Erie Railroad accident in upstate New York
Train crash in upstate New York kills and injures many passengers.
- Heavy snowstorm in New York City and across the north-eastern United States
The Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad is formally opened in Missouri
Fatal railroad accident in Canada when a Great Western Railway express train plunges into a ravine
Brunel's Royal Albert Bridge over the Tamar in the west of England is officially opened
A serious railroad accident in Indiana kills dozens when floods wash away tracks
Train derailment in Wisconsin kills ten people and injures many more
Freight train derails on a bridge in Indiana and goes into the river killing two crewmen
Canada's Grand Trunk Railway links Montreal with Detroit
The first railway train crosses the new Victoria Bridge across the Saint Lawrence in Quebec
Governor Wise takes over the Winchester and Potomac Railroad in preparation for the execution of John Brown
Ten below cold brings collapse of portions of the Union Railroad Depot in Troy, New York
Entire legislatures of Kentucky and Tennessee gather in Louisville, Kentucky
Entire legislatures of Kentucky and Tennessee leave Louisville, Kentucky for Cincinatti, Ohio
The legislatures of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee meet in convention in Columbus, Ohio
- The legislatures of Kentucky and Tennessee are hosted lavishly in Cincinatti, Ohio
Mississippi Central Railroad completed between Canton, Mississippi and Jackson, Tennessee
Last gap closed in a continuous rail line from Maine to New Orleans
Atchison and St. Joseph's Railroad completed
Maryland legislature passes the Eastern Shore Railroad Bill
First railroad track ever laid in Kansas put down
The Charleston and Savannah Railroad begins service
Heavy storm floods parts of Oswego, New York causing a train derailment
In London, a runaway train leaves the station at Kings Cross and crosses the road outside
Serious train wreck near Belleville, Illinois injures dozens
In California, San Francisco's first street railway begins operation
In Philadelphia, a large railroad car factory suffers severe damage in a morning fire
In California, the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad Company is incorporated
Train derails after hitting a cow near Brooklyn, New York and a fireman is killed
Obed Hussey, inventor of the reaping machine, dies in freak railroad accident
In Wisconsin, freight train hits a passenger train waiting in the station at Delavan and five die
In Kentucky, Louisville and Nashville Railroad open their latest section between Louisville and Clarksville, Tennessee
In Pennsylvania, a railroad depot near Pittsburgh is damaged by fire
In Pennsylvania, a new railroad extension further connects the coalfields with Philadelphia and beyond
In Bristol County, Massachusetts, an early morning railroad accident seriously injures three people
In London, an explosion at the excavations for the new underground railway kills two railwaymen
In England, the Edinburgh night mail train collides with a goods train and ten men are killed
In Pennsylvania coal country, five drown when a rail passenger car falls into the Lehigh River
Conductor killed in railroad accident in eastern Pennsylvania
Railroad snowplow clearing tracks derails in Upstate New York injuring several workers
Railroad deaths in 1860 down by more than half compared to 1859
Three fatal railway accidents occur around England on the same day
In Sullivan County, New York, derailment of the Erie Railroad's night express kills a railwayman
Train crash outside London kills one of Queen Victoria's doctors and injure many others
Night train from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh derails, injuring five passengers and damaging the mail car
- Marylanders in sympathy with the South burn railroad bridges linking Philadelphia with Washington DC
U.S. Government takes over the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Delaware Railroad
Union troops seize and fortify the Relay House on the Baltimore and Washington Railroad in Maryland
In Virginia, Confederate artillery attacks a moving Union troop train and forces its soldiers to detrain and retreat
In southern England, two passenger trains collide in a railway tunnel, killing twenty-four and injuring hundreds
In north London, another railway excursion accident kills sixteen and injures 320
Southern saboteurs cause the wreck of a civilian express train in Missouri, killing twenty
Troop train crashes through a bridge near Huron, Indiana, killing eighteen Illinois soldiers and injuring many more
In Europe's Low Countries, a new railroad line links Liège in Belgium and Maastricht in southern Holland
Insurgents destroy track and equipment along a hundred mile stretch of the North Missouri Railroad
Fatal railway accident in Northern Ireland
South of Chicago, an express hits the back of a local commuter train, killing one and injuring many more
In Sacramento, Republican railway builder Leland Stanford becomes the eighth governor of California
In northern Delaware, a work train crashes into the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, killing seven
In Scotland, children playing with railway switches cause a fatal accident on the Scottish Northeastern Railway
North of London, a coal train and cattle train collide resulting in death and serious injuries
In Dutchess County, New York, a troop train derailment kills five men of the 94th New York Volunteers
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad opens service for the first time in a year
In Georgia, Union infiltrators commandeer a Confederate train and initiate the "Great Locomotive Chase"
In Georgia, the leader of the Union raid on the Confederate rail system is captured
Freak railroad accident hits Indiana governor's train and kills the state's Superintendent of Instruction
In Atlanta, James J. Andrews is executed for his role as leader of the raid on the Georgia rail system
In Atlanta, seven Union raiders from the failed attack on the Georgia rail system are hanged as spies
In Atlanta, the captured Union raiders from the failed attack on the Georgia rail system stage a mass escape
In London, the world's first underground railway opens and carries 38,000 passengers on the day
In Washington, the Senate votes to strike down the color bar on railroad cars in the District of Columbia
Railroad and steamboat lines meet to coordinate Montreal-New York schedules
In Philadelphia, a massive fire completely destroys a large railroad car factory on Market Street
Twelve railwaymen in Michigan form the Brotherhood of the Footboard, first permanent engineers' union
Baggage master killed in the wreck of a Michigan Central passenger train near Chicago
In western New York State, a bridge collapses under an express train, killing one and injuring several
In southern England, a fatal train wreck on the Brighton to London line kills four and injures dozens more
Head-on railroad collision in New Jersey wrecks two locomotives but injures only two
In Chicago, a fire at a railroad yard destroys an engine house and damages locomotives
At Nicholasville, Kentucky, a railroad locomotive explodes and kills six Union soldiers
In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee and Horicon Railroad is sold at a U.S. Marshal's auction
Striking railroad company workers riot in Albany, New York
On the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Confederate cavalry catch the last train from Harpers Ferry
In Tennessee, retreating Confederates cut the vital rail link between Nashville and Chattanooga
In South Africa, the Cape Colony's first railway line is opened between Capetown and Wellington
In Nebraska, the Union Pacific Railroad construction begins on the western side of the Missouri
In London near Trafalgar Square, another new main-line railway station opens at Charing Cross
A derailment in Pennsylvania tosses two carriages down an embankment where they burn
In central Pennsylvania, the train carrying Stephen Foster's remains home to Pittsburgh derails
In London, a locomotive on the new underground railway explodes spectacularly, though no lives are lost
In England, a serious railway collision kills five people returning from the famous race meeting at Ascot
Near Bristol, Pennsylvania, two troop trains collide killing five and injuring many more
In western Maryland, Confederate raiders capture and burn the Baltimore to Wheeling mail train
In central England, the crash of an excursion train with eight hundred passengers kills ten people
In south-east England, a train crash kills ten people but passenger Charles Dickens narrowly survives
In New York, a passenger train on the Hudson River Line derails and injuries are reported, one fatal
In Connecticut, a locomotive ploughs into the back of a passenger train, killing at least seven and injuring many more
In Connecticut, a passenger train hits a cow and several carriages are derailed with injuries but no fatalities
In Pennsylvania, a massive head-on collision on the Oil Creek Railroad kills up to nine people and injures many more
Outside New York City, two passenger trains on the Long Island Railroad collide head-on killing five people
In Maine, a train carrying seven hundred returning Maine soldiers runs a gauntlet of fire through Cedar Swamp
At a great celebration in Cedar Falls, ground is broken on the ambitious Iowa Central Railraod
A severe derailment near Auburn, New York destroys three railroad cars but remarkably kills no-one
In Detroit, Michigan, a fire destroys much of the main building at the Michigan Central Railroad Depot
In Virginia, a midnight train wreck kills two soldiers and a brakeman
Near Oswego, New York, a repairs train hits two cows and derails, killing a brakeman
In eastern Pennsylvania, a Jersey City express train derails and kills two nearby woodcutters
In New York, the new railroad bridge linking Albany and Rensselaer across the Hudson takes its first traffic
In New York, the new railroad bridge linking Albany and Rensselaer across the Hudson opens for service
In Indiana, an overnight train derails and sends passengers cars off a bridge injuring dozens
In England, the new Cannon Street Station is opened as the London terminus for the South Eastern Railway.
In Argentina, the nation's first railroad, begun in 1857, extends another 110 miles westward.
In Kentucky, under cover of darkness, outlaws derail a railway train and rob its passengers.
Another armed gang in Kentucky derails a train and robs its passengers.
In northern England, a deadly train wreck kills five and injures many more.
In the Alps, the revolutionary mountain railway crossing Mont Cenis Pass has its first trial run.
Fatal railroad disaster in Ohio when passenger trains collide near Lockland.
Almost fifty people are killed in an horrific train wreck near Angola, New York.
Accident to a railroad bridge work crew near Northfield, Vermont kills fifteen railroad men.
Date Title
Carlisle (PA) American Volunteer, “Shocking Accident,” August 19, 1847
New York Times, “Fatal Railroad Accident,” March 10, 1854
New York Times, “Explosion of a Locomotive,” January 2, 1857
Washington (DC) National Era, "The Administration," June 25, 1857
New York Times, "Insecurity of Railroads," June 10, 1858
San Francisco (CA) Evening Bulletin, “Labor on the Sacramento Valley Railroad,” June 19, 1858
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, "Narrow Escape of a Railroad Train from Fearful Wreck," July 1, 1858
New York Times, "The Tribune on Manifest Destiny," July 10, 1858
New York Herald, "The Accident on the Erie Railroad," July 18, 1858
New York Herald, “The Illinois Campaign,” August 22, 1858
New York Times, “Railroad Casualties,” September 3, 1858
Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “The La Crosse Rail Road Telegraph,” November 22, 1858
Bangor (ME) Whig and Courier, “Astounding Development,” November 24, 1858
Boston (MA) Flag of Our Union, “Uncle Sam’s Farm,” December 11, 1858
New York Times, “Sleeping Cars upon Railroads,” December 31, 1858
New Orleans (LA) Picayune, “Quick,” January 2, 1859
New York Herald, “The Presidential Question,” January 29, 1859
New York Times, “The Killing of the Pacific Railroad,” January 29, 1859
New York Times, “Another Virginia Insurrection,” February 7, 1859
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “Railroad Outrages,” February 23, 1859
Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Sleeping Cars on the Detroit and Milwaukee Railway,” June 15, 1859
New York Times, “Serious Railroad Collision,” June 21, 1859
Washington (DC) National Intelligencer, “Railroad Disasters,” July 4, 1859
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “Can’t Be True,” July 18, 1859
New York Herald, “Swindles Practiced Upon California Passengers,” January 15, 1860
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “Worthy of Honor,” February 23, 1860
Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Astonishing Depravity!,” May 29, 1860
(Jackson) Mississippian, “Fiendish Plot to Rob and Murder,” June 27, 1860
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “Another Case,” July 11, 1860
New York Times, “Wall-Street and the Country,” August 15, 1860
Charlestown (VA) Free Press, “A Broken Platform,” August 30, 1860
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “Boy Mail Robber,” December 10, 1860
President Jefferson Davis, Message to the Confederate Congress, November 18, 1861
Major-General Henry Wager Halleck, General Order 32, Department of Missouri, December 22, 1861
Chicago Style Entry Link
Alvarez, Eugene. Travel on Southern Antebellum Railroads, 1828-1860. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1974. View Record
Fishlow, Albert. American Railroads and the Transformation of the Antebellum Economy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974. View Record
Klein, Maury. Unfinished Business: The Railroad in American Life. Hanover: University of Rhode Island, University Press of New England, 1994. View Record
Klein, Maury. Union Pacific. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1987. View Record
Lightner, David L. "Construction Labor on the Illinois Central Railroad." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 66, no. 3 (1973): 285-301. View Record
Marrs, Aaron W. "Railroads and Time Consciousness in the Antebellum South." Enterprise & Society 9, no. 3 (2008): 433-456. View Record
Stover, John F. Iron Road to the West: American Railroads in the 1850s. New York: Columbia University Press, 1978. View Record
Ward, James F. "A New Look at Antebellum Southern Railroad Development." Journal of Southern History 39, no. 3 (1973): 409-420. View Record
Young, David. The Iron Horse and the Windy City: How Railroads Shaped Chicago. Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005. View Record
How to Cite This Page: "Railroads," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/9592.