Murder in the Time of Cholera

Researchers suspect a cover-up in the Main Line deaths of 57 Irish railroad workers 178 years ago.

By Jonathan Valania
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 16 | Posted Aug. 17, 2010

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Answer: Yeah, the devil.

Question: What about those homes up there?

Answer: Cursed.

Question: Are you with God?

Answer: No ... no ... abyss.

Listen for yourself. These purported exchanges with the dead at Duffy’s Cut are captured on sound files, which you can listen to below and at

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Comments 1 - 16 of 16
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1. BaT.TereDCakeS said... on Aug 25, 2010 at 10:41AM

“I would loveto find out who did this. I hope they uncover the mystery. This should be solved so their spirits can rest in peace.”

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2. Orange you glad I didn't say banana said... on Mar 23, 2011 at 01:59PM

“"were built on the blood, sweat and tears of Irish Catholic immigrants"

I am amazed to learn that only Irish catholic immigrants worked on the railroad. Absolutely none of the workers were protestant, not even one.
Perhaps protestant Irish did work on the railroad but lacked the blood, sweat and tears of their catholic countrymen.

I know the vast majority of immigrants were catholic as the majority of the population in Ireland is catholic but it strains credulity that every single Irishman that worked on the railroad was catholic.

Mr Valania, can you prove your assertion?

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3. rdriley said... on Mar 23, 2011 at 02:36PM

“A good story that misses being great thanks to the incredulous addition of paranormal nonsense. It's one thing to report that some wanna-be "ghostbusters" crossed their streams down in Duffy's Cut and leave it at that. It's another thing entirely to print supposed "answers" from beyond the grave as if they are direct quotations, and not the random, garbled radio nonsense that any reasonable person hears on those recordings.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Mar 23, 2011 at 04:56PM

“Seriously, give it a rest.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Mar 23, 2011 at 05:52PM

“What utter credulous drivel.

But thanks for not describing the Irishmen as clad in Emerald green or carrying lucky charms, you used a lot of cliches but scraped past those two.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Mar 23, 2011 at 06:04PM

“Paranormal nonsense or not...there is no bad publicity.

The role of impoverished immigrants and their role in North American infrastructure is under studied and downplayed whether they were European African, Asian or from other regions. These people dug the foundations, laid the track and built the waterways that still determine how we live.

As a note to “Orange”…I’m sure you’re aware that Irish Catholics and Protestants didn’t often work together – if at all. The 700 years of English repression would see Protestants and Catholics each taking every opportunity they could to do each other in.

During the early 1800’s they mostly lived in segregated communities – can you imagine the outcome if there was only one Protestant in that work gang?

As an example I suggest reading “Goaded to madness - the battle of Slabtown”
Paul Hutchinson, Michael Power, 1999

I think it’s great that the Duffy’s Cut Project has taken this on. The facts show important cultural connections, soc”

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7. Salathiel Albine said... on Mar 24, 2011 at 07:54AM

“I’ve slept peacefully on many a grave in PA in my historical researches during my 50 years of study. I was visiting a friend at his new home and we were having a lovely garden party. A few of us decided to take a walk in the woods and that meant going down the path below his house in the woods. As we got lower, some of the female guests began getting apprehensive, and complained of the sudden cold. It was a hot, muggy day in august, but the air was indeed, suddenly very cold. I asked about the path and the homeowner said it used to be for the railroad, or something, but they didn’t use it. Then he said it was called Duffy’s Cut. I immediately recalled having read about it in the 1970s, and said “oh, this place is haunted” and as soon as I said that, the entire valley filled with a thick fog. Any one of us could have fallen and been hurt or worse, but eventually we all made it back up to the house, although it took a long time and we had to all hold hands so not to get lost on the path. It was almost impossible to see the path in the fog. Back up at the house, it was hot and sunny, but you could see the fog below. I’ll not be back.”

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8. gurrier said... on Mar 24, 2011 at 09:54AM

“The Smithsonian did a piece on this last year, and Irish radio and TV have continue to cover it. This article misses the bit that most interested me - a rare congenital defect has enabled one of the bodies to be identified.

As for the Catholic/Protestant thing, the men came from a pretty mixed part of the country, and judging by the names mentioned in the radio show linked below, there's a strong chance they were both Catholic and Protestant. Don't let Irish-American stereotypes blind you.

RTE (starts 30 mins in, about 8 mins long) :”

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9. Anonymous said... on Mar 24, 2011 at 01:39PM

“"utter credulous drivel"? WTF? The Victorian age called, they want their outraged sensibilities back.”

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10. Micky said... on Nov 24, 2012 at 10:47AM

“as an Irish Catholic , I know through out history You would not find the Catholics and Protestants together . Still that way to many of us today . ( not a religous thing . political . just happens to be the way party lines were drawn a very long tiome ago ) To read they were , every lovin one , all Catholic is no shock at all . to ever read it in reverse wouldnt have shocked me eighter . Lets just remember th tragedy , and not muck it all up with trash .”

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11. PC said... on Feb 8, 2013 at 11:09PM

“I only recently became interested in the story of Duffy's Cut. As a history buff I'm aware of the prejudice towards Irish catholics that existed, especially in the Philadelphia region. In 1842 there were riots, churches burned and priest hanged in Philadelphia. References to the paranormal seem to serve as a bridge between the past and present.”

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12. David said... on Feb 9, 2013 at 02:29PM

“This needs to be brought to the light of day.
Was it in the same general area as where the Paxton Boys killed American Indians at a mission?
Protestants and Catholics never made common cause? What about Wolfe Tone, Emmet, Mitchel ?”

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13. David said... on May 9, 2013 at 09:24AM

“I watched a program "Secrets of the Dead" on PBS last night (May 8 2013).
The program was about the Duffy's Cut mystery and was interesting. Evidence is that there most definitely was foul play and a cover up.
Perhaps the program will be put online or on You Tube? I may have missed something during the program but am curious about what happened to Mr. Duffy himself.”

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14. Enigma said... on Dec 15, 2013 at 02:05PM

“I agree with Mickey...the truth as to who murdered these poor men has likely passed into history but the tragedy remains...Let us give these poor earthbound souls a decent burial and leave them to their eternal slumber! May they rest in peace!”

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15. David said... on Dec 11, 2014 at 05:21PM

“As to the Protestant and Catholic thing a thought that occurs to me is "Not all Protestants are Orange".

I personally hope that the murderers at Duffy's Cut were not "Scotch-Irish" but of course there is that possibility as well as in the case of the "Paxton Boys" Indian murderers.”

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16. David said... on Dec 14, 2014 at 10:53AM

“I see that a Youtube version of "Death on the Railroad" plays well on my computer as of Dec.14 2014. If I get it right it is

I would be curious about the suspected mass grave site that was not accessed because of location too close(or under) to the active modern railroad,if remains were there,did some of them die of cholera or were all of them murdered?”


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Related Content

The Ghosts of Duffy's Cut
By Jonathan Valania

This past spring, the Chester County Paranormal Research Society asked for permission to investigate the valley at Duffy’s Cut. These attempts to communicate with the dead took place in three half-hour segments over the course of several hours. At first, there was not much response, but as the night wore on, things got interesting.