Littleton, WV Forty Car Freight Train Wrecks, Sep 1890

A BIG RAILROAD DISASTER.

TWO ENGINES AND FORTY CARS WRECKED WITH LOSS OF LIFE.

Littleton, West Va., Sept. 8 -- One of the worst freight wrecks known in years on the Baltimore and Ohio occurred at 11:30 o'clock last night on what is known as the Littleton and Grande branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, three-quarters of a mile west of this place. Two engines and between forty and fifty cars were completely wrecked. Two other engines were badly damaged. A large quantity of freight was either badly injured or else entirely destroyed, and, what is worse than the rest, two experienced, widely-known, and valued railroad men were killed, two others probably fatally injured, and four others more or less wounded. The disaster is one which will cost the company a very large amount of money -- probably $100,000 in all.
As far as can be ascertained from the circumstances of the accident, the fault lies with someone in the train dispatchers office at Grafton, but owing to the usual reticence of railroad men in matters of this sort the exact facts cannot be arrived at to-night. The accident was a collision between eastbound freight train No. 92 and a westbound special freight, and occurred on the grade above mentioned. Just at Flood's siding No. 92, west-bound, left Grafton under regular orders, while the special eastbound, consisting of thirty cars, left Benwood under orders to pass No. 92 at Glover's Gap. No orders were sent to the regular train, however, and the westbound left Littleton with two engines in the hope of making up lost time.
While the special, also with two engines, was running all possible steam in order to mount the big Littleton grade, the two trains, going at not less than thirty-five miles an hour, met midway on the grade with a crash which was plainly heard by the telegraph operator at Littleton, three-quarters of a mile away, while his instrument at the same moment ticked out the terrible sentence from the train dispatcher's office at Grafton: "For God's sake, hold the regular train."
The engines fairly ran through each other, while the tenders mounted on top of them and car piled on car on top of the engines until the wreckage was twenty-five feet above the track, while other cars were hurled right and left, smashed into kindling wood, tearing up the track and knocking down telegraph poles.
The casualties were: Two killed outright, two fatally injured, and four slightly hurt. The killed are: C. J. JEFFERS, fireman, of Mannington, aged thirty, making the run for fireman KILLEN, who was off duty to attend a reception to the Right Rev. Bishop Kain, just arrived from Europe; WILLIAM TOOTHMAN, brakeman, aged twenty-four, of Farmington, found under a pile of cars with a two-by-three-inch timber clear through his head.
The wounded are: Engineer DOMINICK KELLY, aged twenty-six, right thigh broken and head badly hurt, may die; Brakeman LONDON, aged twenty-five, skull fractured, unconscious since the wreck; Fireman TYLE, scalded terribly all over the body, suffering terribly, may die; Conductors S. S. DALEY and JAMES ELHOLT, badly shaken up and bruised; CHARLES LICHTE, brakeman, internal injuries and serious bruises. The track was blockaded for ten hours.

The New York Times New York 1890-09-09