Beckley, WV Locomotive Boiler Explosion, Aug 1936
THREE KILLED IN TRAIN BLAST NEAR BECKLEY.
LOW WATER IN BOILER IS GIVEN AS EXPLOSION CAUSE BY C. & O. SUPERINTENDENT.
CONDUCTOR THROWN 75 FEET, BADLY MANGLED.
STEAM KILLS ENGINEER; FIREMAN DIES OF BURNS FOUR HOURS LATER.
Beckley, Aug. 20. -- (AP) -- Three members of a train crew, off on their day's run up Piney river gorge, died today when the boiler of their locomotive exploded.
The giant mallet type engine had just reached a small bridge as steam burst back through the cab and hurled two of the men out.
Conductor BLAINE SIMMONS of Raleigh was killed instantly, his body thrown 75 feet and badly mangled.
The scalding steam killed Engineer BROWN NUNNALLY of Hinton before rescuers arrived.
Fireman RAY E. SINGER of Oak Hill died of burns in a Beckley hospital four hours later.
ALthough the trucks of the locomotive were thrown from the rails, none of its 97 cars left the rails and the crew of an engine just in front escaped injury.
Low water in the boiler was given as the cause. E. L. BOCK of Huntington, general superintendent of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad said:
"So far as we know the explosion was caused by the engineer permitting water to get low in his boiler."
The train, running on the busy Piney river branch of the C. and O. was about at the middle of the gorge, a few yards from lonely White Stick station.
The force of the blast went downward toward White Stick creek 25 feet beneath the little bridge. Trainmen said this fact probably prevented more damage. The giant drivers went upward, however, and caused the trucks to leave the tracks.
Steam and hot water sprayed the ground for 200 feet around, killing all vegetation in that radius.
The scene of the explosion was miles from the nearest telephone and help was some time in arriving because the crew of the undamaged engine had to make a run to Quinnimont. Wrecking crews cleared the single track line this afternoon.
The Piney river division is one of the busiest branches of the railroad through Raleigh county. Much of the tonnage of the Winding Gulf coal fields goes through the rocky, lonely gorge.
Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1936-08-21