Freight Train Plunges into the C & D Canal

On a Monday evening in May 1890, the regular northbound freight, Train No. 20, from Lewes, Delaware was running about a half-hour late as it neared Mt. Pleasant and the draw bridge over the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. Traffic on the canal that spring evening as the 8 o’clock hour neared was heavy, so the operator opened the bridge to allow a tug boat pulling five barges of coal and two schooners to pass through the draw. As the delayed locomotive pulling 23 cars freight cars and the caboose neared the bridge, the engineer failed to notice the red danger light, the train running out onto the open draw. The falling cars struck one of the barges, but the railroad men jumped to safety as the cars started tumbling into the water. With the wreckage of engine # 60 and its freight cars filing the waterway, the canal was blocked for 3 days. Theodore Touchton of Wilmington was the engineer and John Lucas was the fireman. W. W. Dawson was the conductor. (source, Cecil Democrat May 24, 1890) 

Nearly thirty years earlier, a similar accident happened at the drawbridge over the canal, but in that instance the engineer and firemen were killed. 

Other Posts on Canal   

Reading an Old Diary From the Canal (1864) 

raillroad schedule 1863 delmarva

This schedule is for the Delaware Road, the one traveled by the delayed northbound freight from Lewes, but it governed traffic on the road nearly 30 years earlier. Still it gives you idea of the stations along the route.


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