Lockhart, SC Train Wreck, Oct 1907

Shortly after 2:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon a brief message to Superintendent SIMPSON of the Spartanburg division of the Southern railway was received from the agent at Lockhart Junction giving the information that Southern westbound passenger train No. 13 had been wrecked, the engine demolished, cars derailed, engineer and fireman missing, etc. The news was soon around town and rumors were passed about that four persons were killed and several injured. Later dispatches showed that the damage was not so bad and that no one was killed, although several persons were reported injured.
A wrecking train was made up here and sent to the scene of the wreck in charge of Train Master BISHOP of the Spartanburg division, the local surgeon of the Southern, and a force of hands were carried from Columbia and other laborers picked up along the road at stations between Columbia and the scene of the wreck. The train reached Lockhart Junction about 7 o'clock and immediately began the work of clearing the debris. Engineer A.L. MCCOY and the colored fireman, WILLIAM GRAHAM, the only ones who suffered injuries, had been carried to Union and were given prompt medical attention. The surgeon made an examination of their wounds and will probably bring them to Columbia as soon as a train can be got through.
The train consisted of six cars, including baggage and express, and was in charge of Conductor J.M. LAWSON and Engineer A.L. MCCOY. It left Columbia at 11:25 yesterday morning. The train was running on schedule time at a speed of about 35 miles an hour when it was derailed between Union and Lockhart Junction. The engine was badly damaged on account of coming in contact with a heavy steel rail across the track, and two combination cars were derailed, one being precipitated almost directly across the track.
All passengers escaped unhurt, as did all members of the crew, except Engineer MCCOY and Fireman GRAHAM, who were considerably bruised and shaken up, though their injuries are not considered serious.
The track was torn up as a result of the derailment and last night train No. 10 from Asheville to Columbia was detoured via Charlotte.
It was announced last night at the office of the superintendent that they hoped to be able to maintain their regular schedules on this line this morning, the wrecking crew having orders to continue work on the wreck and track throughout the night.
"The cause of the trouble is being thoroughly investigated," said an official of the Southern last night, "but advices indicate that obstructions were placed on the track."
Conductor LAWSON and the colored fireman live in Columbia.
Special to the State – Union – What seems to have been a deliberate plan to wreck passenger train No. 13, westbound, which leaves this city at 2:06 p.m., occurred about six miles north of here at 2:30 this afternoon as the result of which the engine was smashed to smithereens, baggage and mail cars knocked from their trucks and wedged in a deep cut and the tracks torn up for a number of yards. Engineer A.L. MCCOY and Fireman WILL GRAHAM, colored, were terribly scalded and otherwise injured, but fortunately no passengers were hurt.
The evident attempt to wreck the train was made by placing one end of one of the very heaviest new rails, weighing 840 pounds and being 33 feet long, diagonally across one rail. On striking this, which was seen too late to stop the train, Engineer MCCOY applied the emergency brakes immediately and the train was brought to an almost sudden standstill. The impact was so great that the rail was driven several feet into the embankment and then was bent back into the form of an "S." The rails of the track then spread, and the engine ploughed over the crossties for 50 or more feet before it overturned and was badly demolished.
The mail and baggage cars were knocked off their trucks and wedged crosswise between the opposite embankments. The passenger coaches remained on the track, and the passengers scarcely felt the shock except for those in the cafe car, where some of the passengers were knocked from their seats, one man especially being considerably shaken up, this being accounted for because the emergency brakes worked better in the Pullman than they did elsewhere.
As soon as the train came to a standstill, there was considerable excitement among the passengers, who promptly turned out to relieve any one who was injured. Engineer MCCOY was found 50 feet from the engine and on account of the escaping steam was badly scalded, as the accident occurred on a curve. From the position in which he was found it was said that had the engine gone only a few feet farther, both legs would have been cut off.
WILL GRAHAM, the fireman, was found on top of one of the wrecked cars, where he had gone in a dazed condition to escape the escaping steam. The mail clerk, baggage master and express messenger were not seriously hurt but were shaken up considerably.
Dr. J.H. HAMILTON, the Southern railway surgeon located here, was accompanying the remains of his wife, who died suddenly yesterday, to Sptartanburg, and was the only surgeon on board. He put aside his own feelings of sadness in hopes of relieving the suffering of others and did splendid and prompt service to the injured. The body of Mrs. HAMILTON, which was in the wrecked baggage car, by some remarkable and kindly coincidence was not disturbed at all, the coffin having been placed in the end of the car.
The news of the wreck was telephoned to Union from Lockhart Junction, which is a mile from the scene of the wreck, as soon as Conductor JOHN LAWSON could reach there. At 3 o'clock the engine here with three railroad officials and two press representatives went to the scene.
About 5 o'clock the passenger coaches, with the wounded, were brought back to Union, while the passengers for Spartanburg and other points were carried to Spartanburg by the Lockhart train which was used as a special.
At 6 o'clock the indications were that the rail had been placed on the track by someone with the deliberate intention of wrecking the train, but Engineer MCCOY, after the wreck, said that he felt sure that the track had spread just before the engine struck it and that he had already applied the emergency brakes. He does not believe that the rail could have been placed there by one man in that position. He said that it could probably be proved whether the wreck was deliberate or not, or whether it was caused by some miscreant–if the front truck of the engine was struck by the rail and shows it, then it was evidently a deliberate plan to wreck the train, but if the rear truck of the engine or tender shows that it was the one struck by the rail, then it might be that the rail flew up when the engine jumped the track.
Engineer BRUNSON of the yard crew here says he came down at 1 o'clock today, and that two freights preceded No. 13, and that the track was all right then and that there was no obstruction. He says that he believes the work to have been done by a heavy-set negro tramp who was put off his train at Jonesville today. BRUNSON does not know the name of the tramp but says that he could identify him.
The rail on the track was one of the new heavy ones which are being laid. It was 33-feet long and weighed 840 pounds. In handling these rails it has always taken four to six stout negroes to lift them, and it seems practically impossible that one man could have lifted one alone to the position which it occupied.
Several months ago, within a short distance of today's wreck, an attempt was made to wreck the Southern southbound passenger train by two little negro boys who placed a crosstie on the track. Supt. SIMPSON happened to be on board on this occasion and he, with several others, soon found out the miscreants. On account of their youth and ignorance, he would not prosecute them and after seeing that their father administered a terrible thrashing, he dropped the matter.
Mr. MCCOY lives near Spartanburg Junction and has a wife and several children. He for several years was engineer of the yard crew here.