Kingville, SC Train Crashes Off Bridge, Sep 1869

FEARFUL CATASTROPHE.

TERRIBLE ACCIDENT ON THE SOUTH CAROLINA RAILROAD - A TRAIN PRECIPITATED INTO THE CONGAREE SWAMP - THE ENGINEER AND FIREMAN KILLED AND ANOTHER FIREMAN WOUNDED - NARROW ESCAPE OF THE PASSENGERS - HEARTRENDING DETAILS OF HARGROVE'S LAST MOMENTS - THE INQUEST, &c., &c., &c.

The entire community was startled early Saturday morning by the report that a train on the South Carolina Railroad had run off the track, causing great loss of life and destruction to property. Many were the reports in circulation relative to the number of killed and wounded. The excitement which was created by these reports was not allayed until about one o'clock, by which time the full extent of the loss to life and property was generally known.
The accident by which the lives of SEBRON HARGROVE and JAMES GILBERT were lost and a considerable amount of property destroyed, occurred near Kingville to the night express train of the South Carolina Railroad about four o'clock Saturday morning. The train consisting of the locomotive W. C. Dukes, tender, ten loaded and two empty freight cars, baggage and conductor's cars, and two passenger coaches, was on its way to Columbia and, having crossed the Congaree River, was moving slowly across the trestle over the Congaree Swamp, when suddenly the engine plunged down into a gap in the trestle, the tender and the twelve freight cars followed, and all in a moment lay a perfect mass of ruins. The conductor, Mr. W. H. Evans, who was in his car just in front of the passenger coaches, felt the shock caused by the fall of the engine, and immediately sung out to the brakesmen to put the brakes on, which they did, and thus saved the passenger and conductor's cars from going over, the front one of those stopping within a few inches of the break.

The Killed and Wounded.
All this occurred in a moment. Before that portion of the train left upon the track was stopped, the cries of the wounded were heard. Those who were unhurt jumped from the trestle down into the swamp, which, owing to the recent dry weather was comparatively dry, and proceeded in the direction of the cries. The first man they met was MR. CHARLES H. BURNS, one of the firemen, who was sitting on a log to which he had crawled after falling. He had received a severe cut across his forehead and was severely bruised in other portion of the body. He was put in a chair to which a rope was attached, and hauled up upon the trestle and attended to as well as circumstances would permit. While this was being done, others were endeavoring to aid the engineer, MR. SEBRON HARGRAVE, whom they found lying on his side, jammed in among some of the machinery of the locomotive, which, however, might have been easily removed had it not been for the weight of the debris of a freight car which had fallen upon it. Messrs. T. H. Symmes, Express messenger, Mr. Seyles and James Maguire, train hands, and others, first attempted to remove the wreck of iron and wood by which the man was being crushed, the pressure being upon his loins. This was futile, and an effort was made to break the iron with an axe, but it also failed. Nothing daunted, however, the workers seized some spades which were among the freight and endeavored to dig the dirt from under him, hoping by this method to get him out, but the wood and iron which appeared to have enveloped the lower portion of his body, prevented them from carrying out this plan. After they had worked for several minutes with the result above stated, the cry of fire was raised, and the assemblage was horrified to see the flames rising from the wreck of the cars. The fire in a moment communicated to some kerosene oil and whiskey barrels, and they commenced to explode with a loud noise. Some of the passengers, at the request of the conductor, who feared for the safety of the cars on the trestle, went with him and shoved them out of reach of the flames. Those who were working to release the engineer ceased not their labors when the fire commenced, for they recognized the fact that if he were not released very soon he would be burnt to death before their eyes, and they worked with renewed zeal.