Rockmart, GA Passenger Train Collision, Dec 1926
18 KILLED IN SOUTHERN PACIFIC COLLISION.
SCORES SERIOUSLY HURT IN SMASH OF TRAINS IN GEORGIA.
BODIES OF SEVERAL TERRIBLY MANGLED.
DEATH TODAY OF DETROIT GIRL AND BAGGAGE MASTER OF ONE TRAIN BRING TOTAL TO 18.
SOUTH'S WORST WRECK.
FIRST TIME IN MANY YEARS THE SOUTHERN TRAINS HAVE CAUSED SO MANY CASUALTIES.
Rockmart, Ga., Dec. 24. (AP) -- Eighteen persons perished as a result of the head-on collision here last night between the Ponce de Leon, northbound from Miami to Chicago, and the Royal Palm, southbound, of the Southern Railway. The seriously injured number 29.
The death today of little GOLDIE WILLIAMS of Detroit in a hospital at Cedartown and of W. H. BREWER, baggage master of the Ponce de Leon, in a hospital at Rome, brought the total known dead to 18. Railroad officials said they did not believe more bodies would be found in the wreckage, whichhad been thoroughly searched.
Four of the dead are negroes.
The Ponce de Leon, with J. M. PIERCE, road forman of engines, at the throttle, was maintaining its schedule with a long train. It was under orders to take siding at Rockmart to pass the Royal Palm which had pulled up on the main line to await the northbound train. Railroad officials at the wreck said that the siding was occupied partly by a freight train which also was believed to have caused PIERCE to think that the Royal Palm was on the side track.
The Ponce de Leon, coming down an eight mile grade at high speed, hit the Royal Palm head-on. The day coach of the northbound special jammed into the diner just behind. The dining car was leveled and only three occupants were known to have escaped. The baggage and club combination car of the Royal Palm was badly damaged and the engine was wrecked. There was no other damage on the southbound train, many passengers not being aware of the seriousness of the wreck until they heard screams from the Ponce de Leon diner.
Several waiters and cooks on the dining car were pinned in the kitchen compartment where a hot stove crashed down on them. Their bodies were removed early today after the side of the car had been cut away with electric torches.
Rockmart, situated in the north Georgia hill country, rushed all assistance possible to the stricken train. Relief trains from Chattanooga and Atlanta arrived soon after the wrecking crews.
The tracks were cleared and traffic was moving over the road early today.
Rain and mist hampered relief workers today. Oddities were numerous in the wreckage.
The tender of the northbound train snapped out of the line of cars and was thrown 75 feet down an embankment. Both locomotives retained their drivers and remained on the track but their trucks and wheels under the pilot were buckled under.
The fireman, who apparently had just opened the fire box, was caught between the front of the baggage car and the cab of his train. Fire and water from the fire box and boiler swept back into the baggage car and trunks burst under the pressure of steam and heat. The fireman was killed.
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