Archaeological researchers excavating Duffy’s Cut, the infamous dig-site where Irish railroad workers were found buried en-mass, have uncovered two more skulls which show evidence of blunt force injuries to the skull.
The project is being headed by Dr Frank Watson, and is aimed at excavating a railroad site 30 miles west of Phildelphia in 1832. Fifty-seven Irish emigrants were hired to construct the railway line for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad. The workers originated mostly from Donegal, Tyrone and Derry. They came to work on the State’s nascent railroad industry.
Within six weeks, all were dead of cholera and possibly violence, and were buried anonymously in a ditch outside of Malvern.
Several hypotheses as to why the workers died have been put forward. The strongest reason appears to be a cruel mass murder of the workers by some unknown agent, most probably other employees of the railway company; the other possible reason was that the workers were also murdered but in an intentional bid to contain the spread of some contagious disease.
The bodies have given historical scholars and archaeologists interesting clues as to the diets, ways of life, and other information about Irish emigrant workers in America at that period. Although it’s not known how many sites like Duffy’s Cut exist around the country, it’s thought that there are many more all dating from around the same historical period: that of the start of America’s industrialization.
A documentary on the story has been produced by Tile Films LTD of Dublin and broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel. The gruesome tale has also attracted a book called “The Ghosts of Duffy Cut”.
It is thought that the excavators are on an urgent bid to find the last remaining bodies due to precarious excavating conditions and pressure from residents to move on.