Mizpah, NC Train Wreck, Jan 1889

A Railroad Collision

A Negro Held Pinned Under an Immense Pile of Wreckage.

Charlotte, N. C., January 28. – [Special.] The northbound freight train which left Charlotte last Saturday morning, consisting of thirty-five cars, and drawn by big consolidated engine No. 109, was wrecked at the siding at Mizpah, near Reidville, at 9 o’clock that night. The wreck was a terrible one. The Mizpah siding is the place where the northbound and southbound passenger trains meet. It is a small siding, just long enough to hold a passenger train clear of the main line. It is what railroad men call a “spur,” and can only be entered by the northbound train. The northbound end of the siding terminates abruptly on the trestle over a small creek. The switch was misplaced and the engine turned out on the spur, and reaching the end of the track plunged down to the creek bed, carrying fourteen cars with it. Engineer W. A. KINNEY was at the throttle, and Fireman H. A. ADAMS was shoveling coal. As the train approached the fatal spot the engineer had just finished his supper, and had handed his lunch basket to the colored brakeman, who mounted the forward end of the box car next to the tender, and placing the basket between his knees, began to eat the lunch given him by the engineer. Just at this moment the train was approaching the siding and going down grade at the rate of thirty-five miles an hour. The pilot wheels struck the switch with a clickety-click. The engine lurched to the right, and leaving the main line, forged forward on the short spur. A sense of impending disaster flashed upon the engineer in a moment and he leaped from the engine, at the same time shouting to the fireman to jump. Before the fireman could realize the situation the end of the spur had been reached and he was buried under the tender with the wreckage of fourteen box cars piled above him. The colored brakeman, who was eating his lunch at the time, was buried in the wreck and his body has never yet been recovered, His name was SYDNEY LEE.

The scene of the wreck was terrible. The engine turned a complete somersault, and the cars were piled upon and over it, completely covering it from sight. Immediately following the crash there was an ominous silence, which was broken after time by the groans of the luckless fireman, who was pinned down under the tender, and resting over and above the tender were the broken remains of nine box cars. Bye and bye a little tongue of flames shot up from the wreck. The train’s crew could see the fireman was down among the wreckage, and securing buckets, the bailed water upon him to keep him from being burnt to death. Word was sent to Reidville, and in a short time the Reidville fire engine was on the scene and was playing on the burning cars. The fireman remained under the wreck until 5 o’clock Sunday morning, when he was rescued.

When the rescuing party had clared (sic) away it was found that the iron work of the tender still pinned him down, and this had to be cut away with coal chisels. All this time a stream of water had to be kept playing upon his and his rescuers. When drawn from the wreck it was found that one of his hands had been cut off and the flesh along his side and across his back had been cut open in great gashes. Several of his bones were broken and his flesh was blistered. Fireman ADAMS lived in Richmond, and was formerly employed at the Tredegar iron works. He may recover. The engineer was but slightly hurt. The body of the brakeman is believed to have been burned with the cars. The switch is believed to have been turned for the purpose of wrecking the passenger train. The engine, one of the finest on the road, together with fourteen cars and their contents of merchandise, are a complete loss to the railroad company.

The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA 29 Jan 1889