Glade Spring Wreck

Two accounts of a passenger train wreck in Glade Spring, Va., on Sunday, February 9, 1890, plus two bonus news briefs about other problems the Norfolk & Western was having. The story below from the Shenandoah Herald (picked up from the Lynchburg Advance) goes into greater detail about the wreck.

Roanoke Daily Times, Volume 6, Number 62, 11 February 1890, pg. 1




One Man Killed and Several Wounded. A Postal Car Completely Demolished and the Express, Baggage and Two Passenger Cars Badly Damaged.

Much excitement was created in the city Sunday morning by the report that a terrible wreck had occurred to a passenger train on thc Norfolk and Western railroad near Glade Spring Saturday night. Various rumors were in circulation as of the number killed and the cause of the catastrophe. To ascertain the truth of the matter the reporter visited headquarters and learned the following particulars:

Passenger train No. 3, which left this city at 5 p. m. Saturday, was wrecked near Glade Spring, the cause being that the engine drivers mounted the rails.

The engine tender and postal express baggage, two passenger cars and one sleeper were precipitated over an embankment. The postal car was completely demolished, and the express, baggage and two passenger cars were considerably damaged.

Following is a list of the killed and injured:

Express Messenger Kerr, of Eastville, killed.

Postal Clerks Bocock and Burton, of Lynchburg, slightly injured, but were able to proceed to their homes on train passing this city at 1 o'clock Sunday afternoon.

Conductors S. F. Barnes, cut on the head and back hurt.

Baggage Master A. J. Adams, back hurt.

Passengers. Lewis Smith, shoulder sprained; G. McCLELLAND and Miss * DAWSON, flesh wounds; H. W. REYNOLDS, arm cut; WM. GIVINS, hand cut; O. H. JORDAN, hip cut.

The injured were cared for by physicians, who were hastily summoned from Glade Spring and vicinity. None of the injured were so badly hurt but that they were able to continue their journey as soon as the track was cleared by about 12:30 noon Sunday.

The great wonder is that more were not killed or injured, five cars being almost completely wrecked.

Accident on the New River Division.

While engine No. 158 was approaching Eggleston Springs in the New River division of the Norfolk and Western railroad Sunday evening, pulling twenty four freight cars, the crown sheet blew out, throwing the engine and four cars from the track. The engine ran down an embankment and engineer Brown was slightly hurt and the fireman badly scalded. The track was cleared for travel by 9:45 yesterday morning.

Jumped The Track.

A passenger car jumped the track near the Union depot on the Shenandoah Valley railroad yesterday evening, while being shifted. It took about an hour to get it on the rails again.

Shenandoah Herald, Volume 70, Number 1, 14 February 1890, pg. 2



A serious accident occurred on the Norfolk & Western Railroad Saturday night, which resulted in the wrecking of six coaches, the death of one person, and injury, more or less seriously to seventeen others.

The scene of the accident was near Hutton's about one mile east of Glade Spring, where the train was due at 10:40 o'clock, but on this occasion was thirty minutes behind schedule time.

Before the tank is reached, there is a culvert with an embankment twenty feet high. The first intimation of an accident to the passengers was when within a few hundred feet of this culvert a heavy shock was felt followed by a horrible grating sound. The next moment the entire train with the exception of the engine and the last sleeper had plunged down the embankment, the mail car, which was next the tender, being broken into a thousand fragments, scattering debris in every direction, the express, baggage and two passenger cars smashed and badly damaged. The engine has passed safely over the bridge and was standing on the track, though the tender had become separated and was lying at the foot of the embankment on the east side of the culvert. The last sleeper also remained on the track uninjured.

Those who recovered at once from the confusion and the panic which followed, hastened to discover the injured and render whatever assistance they could. In the mail car which lay next [to] the small stream at the bottom of the embankment were found mail agents, B. W. Bocock and A. B. Burton. Mr. Bocock was found wedged in between the broken timbers of the car, his head hanging out over the water, and his legs imprisoned. He was badly bruised about his head, his right shoulder dislocated, bruises in and about the middle of the spine, and a number of minor injuries. Mr. Barton was also found wedged in between the fragments of the car, bruised in various places, but receiving his worst injuries about the hip. It is feared he is seriously injured internally. Agents Burton and Bocock live in this city.

In the express car was found the already inanimate body of express messenger George Kerr, of Petersburg. He had evidently fallen forward at the shock, and upon his body had fallen a heavy box, no doubt killing him instantly. His body was removed to the sleeper.

Captain Barnes, the conductor, who at the time of the accident was on the second class coach, was badly hurt, though he had abundant opportunity to escape without more than a slight bruise. His chief injury was received by falling forward on the heater when the train made the plunge. It was reported by the train men this morning that he was in a very critical condition.

Little Gladys McCuliom, of Charlottesville, a beautiful little child, is suffering from several severe bruises on the hip and a wound in the head; J. C. McClelland, brakeman, cuts on the back and leg, and J. R. Kent, flagman, are among the more seriously injured.

The engineer and fireman were unhurt, going over on the engine in safety. There were fifteen passengers on board the train that were unhurt. They assisted bravely with many citizens who came down from Glade Spring, in the work of rescuing and caring for the injured.

The railroad men state that the accident was due to a broken side rod which connects the driving wheels of the engine. This rod, it is said, suddenly broke and was driven into the ground, checking the train suddenly, and causing the weight and arrested force of the engine to be thrown on one side, which produced a spreading of the rails. The engine passed over this, but the wheels of the tender refused to do so, giving way and throwing the train from the track. The concussion and overturning of the entire train followed. Though this is the statement made by many who know the facts, some of the passengers state that numbers of the cross-ties at this place were decayed, showing that the track was loosened so as to render it dangerous.

Some of the wounded passengers remained at Glade Spring under the care of the local physicians, who did all in their power to alleviate their suffering and render them comfortable. The trainmen also deserve the highest praise for their presence of mind and dispatch in relieving the wounded.

It was a subject of wonder to all who saw the wreck that the two mail agents were not instantly killed. The top and sides of the car were broken into small fragments. It was the floor, which remained almost intact, that saved them. Fortunately for all on board, the first shock of the train was not followed for some moments in the plunge, and many had time to grasp seats and prepare themselves as best they could for what followed. It is a great wonder that at least half of the passengers was not killed. Owing to the quick attention of the trainmen, no holocaust, which usually follows such accidents, resulted. As soon as they were able to recover themselves the fires in the stoves were extinguished. All of the cars which left the track were found lying on their sides. -- Lynchburg Advance