In the mid-to-late 1800s, as many Irish fled their famine-stricken home country, thousands came to America to labor on the railroad systems that would connect the states as nothing had before.
Sadly, many of these men – and some women – would lose their lives along the tracks where they set down the rails, due to the grueling labor, the often rough work conditions and the rapid spread of diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Worse still, a great number of these workers were denied any sort of formal burial, their bodies simply left behind or put in a mass grave with other workers.
Perhaps the best-known instance of an Irish railroad workers mass grave can be found in Duffy's Cut, PA, which first made headlines 12 years ago when brothers Doctors Frank and William Watson began their investigation into the deaths of the Irish immigrants, spurred on by a file of evidence left by their grandfather. After years of research and testing, they were able to confirm that while some of the 57 Irish immigrants, most from County Derry, died from cholera, others were murdered, possibly by locals who believed they were responsible for spreading the disease.