Universal York

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Traffic Accidents in York County Long Before Automobiles

Lewis Miller drawing showing himself, George Kuntz, and Dr. George Shaffner in a sleigh accident in 1831. Miller is retreiving Dr. Shaffner’s wig.
There were no automobiles 130 years ago, even though there were no truck accidents back then people still managed to accidentally harm themselves by other means of transportation–buggies, wagons, sleighs…. Many of the worst local accidents involved trains and resulting loss of body parts.
Some of the less gory accidents, as reported in the Gazette in late fall/early winter 1877 follow:

“Frederick Hibner, Wesley Baum, and a young woman whose name we did not learn were thrown from a buggy, at the corner of Main and Water [now Pershing] streets, on Tuesday evening last, by a wheel coming off. No serious injuries were inflicted.”
Sometime trains were indirectly involved:
“One day recently, while Mr. Daniel Carter of Hanover, was driving a horse attached to a buggy, in which a lady, Mrs. C. Wise, was also sitting, the horse became frightened at a train of cars in the neighborhood of Smith’s station [Heidelberg Township], upsetting the buggy and injuring Mr. Carter slightly about his shoulders, and spraining the left wrist of Mrs. Wise.”
“On Wednesday morning as George Hibner, about 16 years old, was driving Diehl’s market wagon across the Peach Bottom Railway, near the station, [East Market Street, between Broad and Fulton] the horse became frightened at a locomotive and ran away. Hibner jumped from the wagon to the ground, breaking his left leg a short distance above the ankle. He was taken to his home, corner of Pine and Chestnut streets.”
You didn’t even need a buggy or wagon to injure yourself, just a cantankerous horse. As reported:
“On Monday morning a week, while the youngest son of Cornelius Collins was on his way to school at Stewartstown, the colt which he was riding became unmanageable and threw him to the ground, inflicting some serious wounds about his head and face.”
Makes me appreciate my car and its airbags.