Skip to Content

Charlottesville, VA Train Derails, May 1903

LOCOMOTIVE PLUNGES DOWN EMBANKMENT.

ENGINEER HALL AND FIREMAN SNYDER KILLED.

NO PASSENGERS SERIOUSLY HURT.

COMBINATION BAGGAGE EXPRESS CAR ON VERGE OF EMBANKMENT.

TRYING TO SAVE LAD ON THE TRACK.

CHESAPEAKE AND OHIO LOCAL TRAIN DERAILED BY SUDDEN STOP TO AVERT KILLING A BOY NEAR CHARLOTTESVILLE. ENGINE PLUNGES DOWN 45-FOOT EMBANKMENT -- DETAILS OF WRECK.

Late yesterday afternoon information reached Richmond that eastbound local passenger train No. 16, due here at 7:15 P.M., had been derailed and wrecked just after leaving Charlottesville, a mile and a half east of that city, and that Engineer THOMAS D. HALL had been killed and the fireman hurt. Just how the wreck occurred was not then learned, nor whether any one else was hurt.
The following official statement of the wreck was given out by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway:
"Local passenger train No. 16, which left Charlottesville on time was derailed one mile east of Charlottesville. Engine No. 177 and express car turned over; other cars derailed, but remained upright."
"Engineman T. D. HALL and Fireman L. C. SNYDER fatally injured. No other persons injured."
"Passengers on tain transferred with little delay to equipment from Gordonsville. Through passengers on train leaving Richmond at 2 P.M. were handled to Orange and transferred to through train from Washington, which was detoured via Southern to Charlottesville, without delay."
"Cause of the accident has not yet been determined."
It was subsequently learned through special telegrams to the Times-Dispatch from Charlottesville that Fireman LEWIS C. SNYDER, of this city, had died soon after being removed from the wreck, and that the wreck was caused by the engineer's effort to avoid striking a small boy crossing the track.
A small but curious crowd gathered at the Main Street station last night, expecting the wreck victims to be brought in on that train, made up from that point to this city. This train, sent out as a substitute for No. 16, was made up at Gordonsville and sent to the scene of the wreck to remove the passengers. It was expected at 10:20, then reported for 10:45, and finally arrived at 11:45. It consisted of an engine and a combination car and passenger coach, and was in charge of another conductor. Captain GEORGE W. TAYLOR, of this city; Brakeman TAYLOR, and others from the wrecked train were on board, but were able to walk home or to the trolley cars.
Captain TAYLOR, the conductor, stated to a reporter that he had no idea what caused the derailment and wreck. "I was in the second class car," he said, "collecting tickets. We had just left Charlottesville. Suddenly the car I was in gave a jerk, throwing me violently against a seat. At that moment I reached up for the bell cord and pulled it."
"The car I was in was not completely overturned, but was careened somewaht to one side. The combination baggage and express car started down the embankment, but plunged only over the edge and stopped. But for that the baggagemaster, brakeman and a drummer who were in it would have been killed. The car in which I was swerved somewhat across the track. The passenger coach was not overturned nor damaged."
"The engine pulled down a fifty-foot embankment, and turned over three times as it rolled."

Continued on Page 2.



article | by Dr. Radut