Ocilla, GA Train Wreck, Mar 1911

Dixie Flyer Goes Through Trestle

Eight Passengers Killed and Score Injured.

Five Cars In River

All Bodies Except One Have Been Removed from Beneath the Wreckage in River.

Relief Trains On Scene

Accident Caused by Engine Driving Wheel Axle Breaking Off-Four Hundred Feet of Trestle Carried Away-Traffic Will be Delayed Thirty-Six Hours.

Tifton, GA., Mar. 25.-In one of the worst railroad disasters ever known in the South Atlantic states, eight persons were killed and more than a dozen injured when train No. 95, known as the Dixie Flyer, on the Atlantic Coast Line, running between Chicago and Jacksonville, Fla., went through a trestle over Alapaha river, eighteen miles east of here early this morning.

Tonight but one body, that of JOHN T. WATSON, of Lande, Wyoming, remained in the cause in the river. Had it not been for the wreck WATSON would have been a bridegroom today. His sweetheart, Miss Ellie Shippay, of Pasadena, Calif. Who was on the train with him and to whom he was to have been married in Jacksonville today, remained at the wreck throughout the day and night watching the efforts of the rescuers to recover WATSON'S body.

Dead and Injured.
The revised list of the dead and injured is given as follows:
G.P. BOUWART, Henderson, Ky.
WW. CULPEPPER, Tifton, Ga.
MRS. W.D. FLETCHER, Rowtend, Il.
JOHN T. WATSON, Lande, Wyo.
J.P. WOODWARD, express messenger, Waycross, Ga.
C.J. PARNELL, conductor, Savannah, Ga.
[illegible], fireman and ALBERT SIMMONS, porter, colored both of Waycross, Ga.

The Injured:
J.E. Powell, baggage master, Jacksonville.
J.P. Klein, wife and child, St Louis.
Father and mother bruised and child scalded.
Peter Gorglefs, Holland, Mich., bruised.
Nick Vandermelon, Grand Rapids, Mich., bruised about head and knees.
Mrs. O.F. Bonwart, Henderson, Ky.
W.T. Perkins, Catlettsburg, Ky., bruised.
J.E. Green, engineer, Waycross, bruised.

Cars Plunge Into River.

The cars plunged into the river without a moment's warning to the sleeping passengers when an axle on the engine suddenly snapped when midway of the trestle. The locomotive never left the track but the tender was derailed and the tank tumbled to the bank of the stream. The trestle is about half a mile long but the river was low, and at the point of the accident was not more than fifty yards across. The express and baggage cars, two day coaches and one Pullman were piled in an indescribable mess in the center of the stream, but fortunately few of the passengers were carried beneath the water.

Husband Killed; Wife Lives.

J.P. WOODWARD, the express messenger was killed and the baggage master J.E. POWELL was probably fatally injured by bridge timbers being driven through their car. Conductor C.J. PARNELL, of Savannah, and a negro porter named SIMMONS were instantly killed in the second class day coach when it was telescoped by the baggage car. The first class coach, a new steel car, was driven through the sleeper. In this car was O.F. BONWART of Henderson, Ky. Was instantly killed while his wife beside him, escaped with slight injuries. BONWART'S body was recovered late this afternoon.

All Accounted For.

Late tonight it was stated that the wreck had been thoroughly examined and that the death toll will not be increased as all the passengers had been accounted for. All the wounded have been removed to the Atlantic Coast Line hospital at Waycross. The bodies of the dead were removed to Tifton from which point they will be sent to their former homes.

First reports of the wreck were to the effect that the entire train went into the river and that forty were killed outright, while many were injured. The scene of the wreck is in a remote section of the State and it was several hours before accurate information was obtainable.

Relief Trains Sent Out.

Relief trains have been sent to the scene from Waycross, Tifton and Willacoochee and it is stated that it will be thirty-six hours before the tracks are cleared for traffic.

The Atlantic Coast Line General Superintendent's office gives out the following account of the wreck of the Dixie Flyer.

Train No. 95, known as the Dixie Flyer, running from Chicago to Jacksonville, Fla., was wrecked on the Alapaha trestle three miles south of Alapaha station on the Brunswick and Western division of the Atlantic Coast Line Railway, at 7:20 o'clock this morning.

Trestle Badly Wrecked.

The train carried down with it 400 feet of the trestle. The baggage car was telescoped and the first and second class coaches and the first Pullman sleeping car fell through the trestle.

The accident was caused by the engine driving wheel axle breaking off, although the engine remained on the trestle. Hospital trains were sent from the Coast Line Hospital at Waycross to the scene of the wreck with doctors and nurses on board. The train left Waycross at 2:40 o'clock this morning. Doctors were also sent from Tifton on a special train and the company of doctors from Willacoochie went to the scene on a hand car. It will be thirty-six hours before the track is cleared.

Albany, GA., March 25.-Information received by long distance telephone from Willacoochie, Ga., is to the effect that some of the passengers injured in the wreck of the Dixie Flyer near Ocilla this morning, have been removed to the hospital at Wilacoochie. Baggage master Powell of Columbus, Ga., who was reported among the injured, is said to have been taken from the wreckage dead.

ST. Louis, Mo., March 15.-Mrs. J.P. Klein who with her 3-year-old daughter was injured in the Atlantic Coast Line wreck near Ocilla is the wife of a saloon-keeper here. Klein, her husband, traveled with her.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL 26 Mar 1911



Tampa, Fla., March 25.-Mrs. W.D. FLETCHER, one of the victims of the wreck near Ocilla, Ga., was a bride of three days. Her husband left Tampa ten days ago for Chicago to wed her. No one here knew of his mission until a telegram was received that he had married. Mr. Fletcher is assistant secretary and treasurer of the Chicago-Tampa Land Company. No one here knows the name of Mrs. Fletcher before she was married.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL 26 Mar 1911


Willacoochee, Ga., March 25.-News received here this afternoon from the scene of the wreck early today of the Dixie Flyer near Ocilla, Ga., indicates that the known dead will total ten while the list of injured also has been largely increased. The baggage and express cars, two day coaches and a Pullman went into the river.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL 26 Mar 1911




Waycross, Ga., March 27.-Ninth on the death list of the wreck of the Dixie Flyer, a fast passenger train on the Atlantic Coast Line at Alapaha River trestle early Saturday morning. J.E. POWELL of Jacksonville, express messenger, died here late tonight. He was seven hours in the wreck and was a mass of bruises. He did not recover consciousness after being hurt. His wife was with him when he died.

The line at the scene of the wreck was opened late this afternoon. It is believed that the list of dead will not be increased as the injured are doing well.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL 28 Mar 1911


My grandfather was flagman in

My grandfather was flagman in Dixie Lyer that day and was one of few train crew to survive!