Amtrak crash in Philadelphia: It happened on the same curve as one of America's worst train crashes ever

One of America's Worst Train Crashes Happened on the Same Curve as Amtrak 188—72 Years Ago

One of America's Worst Train Crashes Happened on the Same Curve as Amtrak 188—72 Years Ago

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May 13 2015 12:24 AM

One of America's Worst Train Crashes Happened on the Same Curve as Amtrak 188—72 Years Ago

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The distance from the 1943 crash, at bottom of the map, to the approximate area of Tuesday's crash, at top.

Screenshot from Google Maps

As rescue teams respond to Tuesday night’s frightening Amtrak crash outside Philadelphia, they’re walking the same ground where, 72 years ago, servicemen headed to New York on Labor Day instead spent the night searching through derailed train cars in one of the worst railway accidents in American history, the 1943 Frankford Junction crash. The coincidence was noted by Philadelphia Daily News assistant managing editor Gar Joseph on Twitter.

In that crash, 79 were killed and 117 injured when a journal box failed and an axle snapped at high speed, sending the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Congressional Limited, packed with servicemen and vacationers, catapulting off the track. According to an Associated Press story published at the time, the accident happened at Frankford and Glenwood Avenues in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood—on the same great bend of the tracks where Amtrak train 188 derailed today. In fact, the intersection of Frankford and Glenwood Avenues is only a few tenths of a mile away from the 2000 block of Wheatsheaf Lane, where a local NBC affiliate is reporting Tuesday’s crash occurred

Dan Kois edits and writes for Slate’s culture department. He is writing a book called How to Be a Family and co-writing, with Isaac Butler, an oral history of Angels in America.