N&W in 1910--Huge rocks

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Wed Sep 30 11:44:19 EDT 2009

I particularly like the reporters "conjecture" (my term) that, "The rocks must have fallen some time before the train came along..."

Sam Putney
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Subject: N&W in 1910--Huge rocks

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
March 8, 1910

Tracks Near Ada Badly Torn Up And May Not be Cleared Before Afternoon

Nathan Neal, colored, was slightly injured in a wreck which occurred one mile west of Ada last night about 8 o'clock. Eight cars were thrown crossways on the track and two cars overturned. Engine 1057 [M1, 4-8-0, Richmond 1907], with Hugh Carney at the throttle and Fireman T. S. Simmons plunged into two rocks weighing a ton or more each, which had rolled off the bank on the track directly in front of the train. The engineer did not see them until he was within three or four car lengths and although he applied his air as quickly as possible, the engine went ploughing into the obstructions, but only suffered the loss of its pilot. Neal, who was injured, was standing on top of a car near the engine and when he saw what was happening he jumped, spraining his back. If the engineer and fireman had jumped they might have been killed. As it was both stuck to their posts and came out unharmed.
The rocks must have fallen some time before the train came along as a farmer who lived nearby saw them on the track and was putting on his clothes to go out and warn the train men of the danger when suddenly the headlight of a freight came in sight and the wreck occurred.
Dr. Cornett was put on a special engine to the scene of the wreck to attend to Neal's injuries, but they were so slight that he was able to go to his home on No. 16.
Train No. 3 was delayed by the wreck and it was necessary to transfer passengers to train No. 14 while No. 3 went back to Roanoke as No. 16 and No. 16 came west as No. 3.
The wreck was one of the worst small wrecks the road ever had. The track was badly torn up and estimates last night said that the east bound track would be cleared and repaired by 7 o'clock this morning while the westbound track cannot be cleared and repaired before the middle of the afternoon.
A boy who was riding in the car with some cattle was uninjured although the car he was in was picked up by the force of the wreck and turned around so that it was thrown across the track. A pail of milk, which was in the car was not even overturned while the car was cavorting around like one of the young heifers. A dog which was in the car added his howling to the noise of the smashing timbers and the boy who was tending the cattle was more interested in quieting the dog for fear that he would stampede the cattle than he was in fear of personal danger.
["...riding in the car with some cattle...." I have heard of drover cabooses on some western railroads where the drovers could ride while accompanying a shipment of cattle or sheep, but in the car with cattle? And, a boy at that!]

Gordon Hamilton


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