Ground Penetrating Radar Solves Murder Mystery

In 1832 there were 57 Irish immigrants who arrived in Philadelphia to work on the rail lines and partake in the American dream who mysteriously disappeared.  They were hired by a fellow Irishman right off the docks when they arrived. It was reported originally that 8 weeks after their arrival all died as a result of cholera pandemic and buried in a mass grave.

For years there were rumors and stories about how these men came to their demise. These stories of possible murder had transformed into a local legend. Until 2002 when two grandsons of an old railway worker decided to explore this mystery further. They conducted an archaeological dig at the site of the Irish workers’ camp. After uncovering over 1,000 artifacts the remains of the men continued to elude them.


human skull

Human skull with a hole found in mass grave.

It was in 2007 they started to employ the services of a geophysicist and ground penetrating radar equipment to try to uncover the mystery. For the next few years they continued to process the GPR data uncovering many more artifacts and in 2009 they finally found human remains. Since then an anthropologist from the local university has identified seven skeletons and 4 human skulls. One appeared to have a bullet hole in it and many others showed signs of blunt-force trauma.

Investigation has found there was a local break out of cholera which killed many in that area. It is suspected that local vigilantes killed the other workers, who were also thought to be possibly infected, for trying to escape the pandemic. Once all the remains are uncovered they will be taken to their final resting place in a cemetery where many Victorian elite of Philadelphia are buried.

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