Piedmont, WV Train Wreck, Dec 1903



Brakes Refuse to Work at Top of Seventeen Mile Grade Near Piedmont.

While coming down the 17-mile mountain grade toward Piedmont, W. Va., a Baltimore & Ohio freight train ran away. Control of the train was lost at the summit of the grade, and both engines, which were hauling 24 loaded coal cars, left the track on a sharp curve, one mile west of Everett tunnel, hurling the whole train, with the exception of one car and the caboose, into a deep ravine, killing five of the train crew and seriously injuring five others.

The dead: Engineer ERNEST D. ERVIN, 23 years old, of Springdale street, South Cumberland, in charge of engine No. 1864; Engineer EMERY ERVIN, 55 years old, of Tunnelville, W. Va., was riding with his son to Cumberland; WALTER B. NINE, of Terra Alta, W. Va., fireman on engine 1864; J. B. CARTER, of Penston, N. C., 25 years old, boarded in South Cumberland, fireman on engine 1862; Brakeman JOHN HAYES, of Staunton, Va., 23 years old, boarded on Fulton street, Cumberland.

The injured: Engineer MICHAEL J. GIBBONS, of engine No. 1862, 50 years old, lives at Arch street, South Cumberland, fatally crushed; Fireman E. C. C. BUCKLEY, of Terra Alta, W. Va., boarded in South Cumberland, badly injured about the arm, shoulder, legs and face, was riding on Engineer ERVIN'S engine and was off duty; Brakeman C. F. BOLINGER, of Grafton, W. Va., running as extra brakeman on the train, seriously crushed, removed to Keyser hospital; Flagman JOHN MURPHY, of South Cumberland, badly bruised and cut; Conductor J. RANDOLPH HARRISON, of Keyser, W. Va., badly bruised.

Fireman BUCKLEY, who was dead-heading east with Engineer ERVIN, is the only man who was on the front end of the train who escaped to tell the tale. He says the air failed to work coming down the grade, and the heavy train was soon beyond the control of the engineers.

When the train left the track it was running at the rate of fully 100 miles an hour, and the crash was terrific. Both tracks were blocked by the wreck and the track was torn up for 700 yards.

Hundreds of small trees were snapped off in the awful fall of the train as it went plunging down the precipitous mountain side and the path of the wreck was swept clear of vegetation.

The Indiana Democrat Pennsylvania 1903-12-16