Gaffney, SC Train Wreck, Dec 1895
GAFFNEY, Dec. 13.–A freight train on the Southern Railway was being run in three sections, going north. The first two sections received orders at Spartanburg to meet a train at Thicketty, a sidetrack seven miles below this place, but the train dispatcher either failed to give a similar order or the order was misunderstood by the engineer and conductor. The first and second sections had reached the sidetrack, and a flagman had been sent back to flag section three. The train that they were to meet came in, and the flagman sent out was called. Before leaving, however, he left torpedoes on the track. The flagman had not reached the train when they heard the third section approaching.
The grades at this point are very heavy, and the engineer of the third section, not having any orders to meet a train at that point had ordered his fireman to fire up in order to get on a head of steam to strike the hill. There was no sand in the sandbox, and he desired to get a start in order to make the grade, as his train was heavily loaded with pig iron and cotton.
When the engine struck the torpedoes, the engineer blew for brakes and reversed his engine, but he was running at such speed, the grade being down, that it was impossible to stop the train before it crashed into the rear end of the second section, demolishing the cab and two freight cars.
The engine, tender and seven cars of section three were completely demolished. The engine was turned completely around, and the freight cars were thrown high enough to tear down the telegraphic wires.
The scene of the wreck is indescribable, freight cars and cotton and pig iron being piled in confusion. All trains have been delayed from two to twelve hours as a consequence of the disaster.
A force of workmen have been on the scene since midnight and trains are now able to pass.
THE ENGINEER KILLED
Engineer DAVID CURLEE was almost instantly killed in the wreck at Thicketty last night. He died within an hour without gaining consciousness. His fireman was slightly injured as he jumped. A colored brakeman was also severely shaken up. After reversing the engine and calling to his fireman to jump, the engineer refused to make an effort to get off and perished in the wreck, his body being crushed almost beyond recognition.
The Watchman and Southron, Sumter, SC