N&W in 1910--Fatal Wreck

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Tue Jan 5 17:37:13 EST 2010

In 1975, I interviewed Nathan [first name may have been Nathaniel] "Hub" Tanner. He was a Roanoke yard engineer on steam for most of his career and on diesels for a couple of years. He spoke about his father being killed in a train wreck on the Radford Division while riding a cabin car. I did not get his father's name and I wonder if this is his father mentioned in the article below.

I would appreciate any help to my questions.

Bud Jeffries
----- Original Message -----
From: NW Mailing List
To: 3N&W Mailing List
Sent: Monday, January 04, 2010 8:29 PM
Subject: N&W in 1910--Fatal Wreck

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
July 27, 1910

Failure of Telegraph Operator to Display Red Light Blamed for Rear-end Collision
The Roanoke World of yesterday afternoon gives additional details of the rear end collision on the Norfolk and Western yesterday morning at 1 o'clock at Curve, three and one-half miles west [sic] of Pearisburg, which resulted in the death of J. D. Davis, flagman, and T. H. Tanner, foreman of painters, and which was briefly reported in yesterday's Daily Telegraph.
Engineer J. D. Douthat, seeing that the collision was inevitable, jumped and had his leg and ankle severely sprained, but his is able to walk with the aid of a crutch and went into Roanoke on the noon train and was taken to his home where he is under the care of his physician.
Flagman Davis was killed instantly. He was a young man twenty-three years of age and his home was in the eastern part of Virginia, near Richmond. The remains were taken to Roanoke and prepared for burial and will be shipped to his old home later.
Mr. Tanner, who is foreman of painters, lived until four o'clock yesterday morning when he died. He was a citizen of East Radford where he had a wife and three children. The remains were taken to Radford and prepared for burial. Mr. Tanner was a brother of T. C. Tanner, of Bluefield, who went to Radford yesterday to attend the funeral.
The collision occurred on a side track at Curve and was between the second and third sections of train No. 86. The second section had taken the siding two hours prior to the collision. The third section consisted of a double header, pulled by Engineers Douthat and J. D. Spangler. The telegraph operator, it is claimed, failed to display a red light instead of a green one, and for that reason, third 86 was coming at a high rate of speed. Flagman Davis, who was killed, had gone to sleep in the cab of second 86, along with Mr. Tanner, and he failed to flag the on-rushing train and prevent the collision.
Engineers Douthat and Spangler, both realizing their danger, jumped, the latter escaping unhurt. Had it not been for a depression where Mr. Douthat struck the ground, the chances are that he would have escaped a sprained ankle.
The second section of train 86 was in charge of Captain Johnson, conductor, who, at the time of the collision, was forward on his train, or he also might have been killed.
The firemen on the train were in such positions that they could not jump and sticking to their posts escaped further injury than a severe shaking-up.
The engine which ran into the cab of second 86 was only slightly injured, the headlight being broken off, and some other minor damages inflicted. The cab was totally destroyed.
Officials of the Norfolk and Western are making a thorough investigation of the fatal occurrence, and will eventually fix the responsibility of the occurrence where it properly belongs.
[Curve was east of Pearisburg, not west of there as the article stated. There is no information in the article about the physical layout at Curve and the role of the operator there, but it looks as though Flagman Davis was equally responsible for the wreck. Any thoughts anyone? Also, presumably Painting Foreman Tanner was just a passenger in the cab (cabin car or caboose for those not acquainted with N&W terminology) of second 86.]

Gordon Hamilton


NW-Mailing-List at nwhs.org
To change your subscription go to
Browse the NW-Mailing-List archives at
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://six.pairlist.net/pipermail/nw-mailing-list/attachments/20100105/d25dbf49/attachment.htm>

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list