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Honoring the Past and Moving Forward

On July 17, 1856, nurse Mary Johnson Ambler rushed to the scene of a horrific train accident between the Camp Hill and Wissahickon Stations on the former North Penn Railroad - a train carrying children and adults from Philadelphia's St. Michael's Parrish and an inbound passenger train collided. While 59 people perished in the accident, the number of fatalities could have been much higher if not for Mrs. Ambler's rescue efforts. On July 17, 2011, SEPTA and Ambler Borough - the town named after the heroic nurse - ensured Mrs. Ambler's legacy will live on by unveiling a plaque in her honor at Ambler Station.

Local resident Pat Thomas, dressed to portray the heroine, accepted the honor on Mary Ambler's behalf. During the ceremony, Thomas spoke the words she imagined Mrs. Ambler might have said if she were alive today: "I am so proud that you have come here to honor the rescue effort I made this day in 1856. We honor those who are not here with us, and we recognize all of you who are here today. With my name on this train station and this town, I can rest knowing that finally there is a permanent record of what happened this day 155 years ago."

The ceremony at Ambler Station (which was also dedicated in Mrs. Ambler's name in 1869) was not only a nod to the borough's past, but also celebrated the modern amenities at SEPTA's fully-renovated Regional Rail station.

"As the region's public transit authority, SEPTA is dedicated to serving our customers and the communities in which they live and work," said Jeffrey Knueppel, SEPTA Assistant General Manager and Chief Engineer. "An important part of this commitment is our capital investment in our stations, facilities and vital transport infrastructure."

The improvements at Ambler Station included moving the portion of the station previously used for outbound boarding from the north to the south of Butler Pike, adjacent to the large parking lot and opposite the inbound platform. The new high-level inbound and outbound platforms, as well as the station building, are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible. Adding to the new passenger amenities are inbound and outbound platform-level shelters.

From left: Pat Thomas (as Mary Ambler); U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz; Ambler Mayor Charles T. "Bud" Wahl; SEPTA's Jeffrey Knueppel; Ambler Borough Manager Mary Aversa; Ambler Savings Bank's Martin Brown; and Pa. State Representative Todd Stephens with the new Ambler Station Plaque.

Students from La Salle Academy-St. Michael's Parish attended the unveiling. Children from St. Michael's School were involved in the 1856 accident.

In addition to the plaque honoring Mary Ambler, the ticket office includes panels with historical information about Ambler Station and rail travel.

The station's old outbound platform, located on the north side of Butler Pike...

has been moved to the south side of Butler Pike. Inbound and outbound platforms are ADA accessible.