Site of the Angola Horror – Angola, New York - Atlas Obscura
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Site of the Angola Horror

Angola, New York

Where one of the worst train disasters in the country took place, leading to upgrades in rail safety.  

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On December 18, 1867, one of the country’s worst train accidents took place here. The train, traveling from Cleveland to Buffalo, was running behind schedule. Crucially, the train was designed to work on different gauge tracks, which led to instability.

As a train crossed the bridge over Big Sister Creek, the last car jumped and derailed, causing it to swing and crash into the gorge below. The accident caused the stoves to overturn, throwing hot coals all over the car and the passengers. Kerosene lamps also helped spread the fire, it wasn’t long before the car was completely engulfed in flames. In total, 50 people died.

The Angola Horror, as it came to be known, led to many changes in railway safety, to ensure that stoves were properly secured in cars and track gauges were standardized, among other measures. 

From the marker off Mill Street, there’s a car bridge that now goes over Big Sister Creek. If you follow the creek 600 feet upstream you can still see the remnants of the concrete embankment where the train bridge used to be. 

Know Before You Go

 The marker is in a little park beside the bridge. 

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