N&W in 1909--Fatality

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Sat Feb 21 16:05:12 EST 2009

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
April 1, 1909

Death of Former Wayne County Man in Wreck at Prichard Unusually Pathetic

A head-on collision between extra eastbound freight No. 86 and a westbound train at Prichard, in Wayne county, early Tuesday morning, resulted in the death of Fireman Wm. R. Spaulding, of Wheelersburg, Ohio, and the serious injury of Engineer C. M. Engles and Brakeman James Kelley, both of Portsmouth, together with the smashing of both engines and the demolishment of ten cars.
Spaulding was the husband of the Norfolk and Western telegraph operator at Wheelersburg. He was but 24 years of age, and had been in the employ of the Norfolk and Western but a few months. He was a native of Wayne, having married a Miss Walker there two years ago. His wife, who previous to her marriage was a waitress in a hotel at Williamson, took up telegraphy during her leisure moments and became so proficient that she was given the office at Wheelersburg. She and her husband moved to near Portsmouth several months ago, and lived on a small farm. Her husband had a longing for railroad life, and despite his wife's objections, secured a position as fireman. Ever since he made his first run, Mrs. Spaulding has been fearful lest something direful would overtake him. Sunday she begged him to quit the road, inasmuch as he had had two narrow escapes from injury during his short service. He promised her that he would go out for this one time, and if matters did not look right to him he would quit his job and go to farming.
[It is interesting that women were employed in N&W operations as early as 1909. We mostly hear of women railroaders starting during World War II.]

Gordon Hamilton
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