Charleston, WV Train Wrecked On Trestle, July 1891
IN THE AWFUL DISASTER ON THE KANAWHA AND MICHIGAN ROAD.
NEAR CHARLESTON, THIS STATE.
TWO RAILROAD COACHES FILLED WITH MERRY PLEASURE SEEKERS.
PLUNGE THROUGH A TRESTLE.
ONLY FOUR ESCAPE WITHOUT INJURY - FIFTY-THREE ARE BADLY INJURED, SOME OF THEM FATALLY - HEARTRENDING SCENES AT THE WRECK - THE BODIES HORRIBLY MANGLED - SOME OF THE DEAD WELL KNOW CITIZENS - THE WORK OF RESCUE - CHARLESTON A CITY OF MOURNING.
Charleston, W. Va., July 5. - The worst wreck ever known in this part of the State, if not the worst that ever occurred in the State, occurred about 8 o'clock yesterday morning on the Kanawha & Michigan Railroad, eight miles west of here. The passenger train for Columbus pulled out from here with two car loads of excursionists, among them the United American Mechanics, who were going to Poca. The wreck occurred on a high trestle. The sleepers had caught fire during the night and burned so that the rails spread under the train. The engine and baggage and mail car passed over safely, but the two coaches were thrown from the track. After running some 40 feet on the rails, the forward car toppled to the left, the rear one to the right, the forward car turned completely over, landing right side up. The other fell some 20 feet, turning upside down and one set of tracks fell on top reducing the car to splinters. Under this place most of the dead were found.
The Plunge Down From A Trestle.
The train had just pulled out in the early morning and gone a few miles, when suddenly there came a crash. The coaches rocked and shook, women screamed and stout men turned pale with fear. A moment more and the fearful plunge was made that dealt out death and destruction to so many people.
In the terrible fall many persons were crushed and bruised, but to add to the horror the rear truck, which remained on the track, came crashing down upon the car, crushing everything under it, and killing nearly every person in that part of the car. One dead body after another was pulled out through the window, most of them horribly mangled. Nearly all of the dead were cut or bruised about the head.
A Head Severed At The Mouth.
JASPER DOUGHERTY, of New Martinsville was fearfully mangled. His head was cut off at the mouth, leaving only the lower jaw on the headless trunk. Two or three hours after the wreck his head was found among the broken seats and debris in the worst part of the wreck, lying in its own brains, which were scattered over the car floor.
Immediately after the wreck relief trains were sent out with physicians from St. Albens and Charleston, who did all in their power to relieve the sufferings of the injured and save the lives of as many as possible. The press correspondent arrived in the second train, and the scene which met his gaze was horrible beyond description. A dozen corpses lying in a row, many of them at the time not identified, was the first sight on leaving the train. A few steps further on a half dozen men were met carrying another corpse to add to the list across the creek where the wreck occurred.
Scores of injured and dying lay in groups in the open field, nursing their injuries. The moans of the wounded, mingled with the cries of those who had lost friends and the sickening sight of blood and carnage and the cries of the suffering ones, caused the stoutest heart to quail.
The Heroic Work Of Rescue.
The four uninjured men, Engineer O'Connor, Fireman Wyatt, Mail Agent Hays and Passenger Norvall, together with much of the wounded as were able, worked nobly to rescue their unfortunate companions, and with the help of the country people who flocked to their assistance and rendered noble aid, they were soon all extricated from the car. To get them out it was necessary to cut the car away, but all were gotten out in a short time.
The funeral train left the scene of the wreck about 1 o'clock, all the coaches from this place having gone out to bring in excursions. Box cars had to be used. One car contained nine cots, each with a corpse in it. The other cars were all full of injured on cots.
The news spread like wildfire and at every station a crowd of people turned out to learn of the fate of friends. Tonight merchants are draping their buildings in black, mingling the mourning with the red, white and blue bunting that had already decorated their places of business.