N&W in 1911--Wreck effect

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Jul 15 17:03:34 EDT 2010

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
January 29, 1911

Fantastic Story, Interesting if True, Comes of Men in Christmas Eve Disaster
The following aftermath of the fatal wreck at tunnel No. 6 is taken from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. Inquiry was made of the friends of Mr. Semmelman here, some of whom receive letters from him, but none of them knew whether the story of the whitening hair was true or not. The Herald-Dispatch says,
"The effects of the wreck of Norfolk and Western train No. 16, near Crum, in Wayne county, several weeks ago, differ perhaps, more widely from the effects of the ordinary wreck than is generally connected. In addition to the four men killed instantly, one has practically an unbalanced mind [the news butcher] and the hair of another is rapidly turning gray, despite the fact that he is but 30 years of age.
"The pitiful story of Robert McCalister, news butcher on the wrecked train, is already well known here, but the story of C. A. Semmelman has just come to light. Semmelman was one of the men in that fatal disaster. He was employed as mail clerk on that road and was on 16 the day of the wreck. The fearful experience he was forced to undergo at a time when four of his brother employes were killed, effected him so gravely that from that day his hair began turning white and his entire suit [sic] is now almost as gray as that of a 60 year old man. Fortunately, his mind has not ben [sic] effected as was the case with McAllister."
[A recent railroad news item stated that on the average a 25-year-service railroad train crew member will be involved in three fatal accidents in that time (mainly trespasser or grade crossing accidents). The industry and regulatory authorities are involved in addressing the post-accident stress disorder that these employees might experience.]

Gordon Hamilton
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