N&W in 1910--Accident

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Sat Oct 17 11:26:06 EDT 2009

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
April 2, 1910

Five Passengers Injured When Norfolk and Western Train Was Derailed at Watts Tank
Engineer John Griffith was killed and Fireman John Vaughan and five passengers were injured yesterday afternoon at 4:30 o'clock when Norfolk and Western passenger train No. 17 was derailed at Watts Tank. The engine and tender rolled over the bank while the baggage car and two coaches were overturned. A deadhead baggage car on the rear of the train left the track.
The train was running about thirty miles an hour when the derailment occurred. Engineer John Griffith, who has been running on their road for the past twenty years, was found decapitated under his engine while the fireman was seriously injured. At first it was not thought any passengers were hurt, but a closer examination proved that five sustained slight injuries. Williamson shop track talk placed the number of injured at twelve, but this must be slightly exaggerated, as it does not agree with the reports received at Mr. Spangler's office in Roanoke.
Watts Tank, where the derailment occurred, is a small station near Dunlow, about fifty miles from Williamson, and the train which met with the accident runs between Williamson and Portsmouth, leaving Williamson at 2 o'clock. The train crew make their homes at Portsmouth and very few particulars could be leaned at Williamson.
Williamson was not able to say who the injured passengers are, and whether or not any people from Williamson or surrounding towns were on the train could not be learned here last night.
The cause of the wreck has not been determined. Captain McCullough said last night in this city that Engineer Griffith, who is a single man and forty-eight years of age, was one of the oldest men in service on the road. He and Captain McCullough ran on the same train for years and the man was very popular.
(By Associated Press)
Portsmouth, April 1--A Norfolk and Western local passenger train jumped the track on a curve at Watts, W. Va., forty-five miles east of Kenova, and was badly wrecked tonight. The engine, baggage and express cars were turned completely over and a second-class coach was partly telescoped. John Griffin, of this city, engineer, was found buried beneath the baggage car. He was decapitated. The fireman was seriously hurt. A number of passengers were injured.
[This is another example why engineers of that day were referred to as "the brave engineer." Dunlow was on the Twelve Pole line 46 miles east of Kenova, making it one mile east of Watts Tank (according to the Watts location given immediately above) and almost exactly mid way between Williamson and Kenova.]

Gordon Hamilton
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