Powhatan, WV Train Wrecks On Curve, June 1946

View of the Train Wreck


Powhatan, June 12. -- (AP) -- Two crewmen were killed and at least 12 persons injured late today when the Norfolk and Western Railway's new streamliner, the "Powhatan Arrow," left the tracks on a sharp curve here and overturned.
The engineer, ROBERT D. NAP, and the fireman, BEECHY LAWSON, were killed.
The engine and two cars of the train, eastbound from Cincinnati, O., to Norfolk, Va., left the rails, the locomotive turning completely over on its side, trapping the fireman.
A partial list of the injured included:
MRS. RAYMOND HIBNER, 41, 1370 Park Av., Huntington.
JEANETTE HIBNER, her daughter, also of Huntington.
MRS. C. R. WALKER of Bluefield.
ELI FRAZER, 60, Negro, 4422 Vincennes Av., Chicago.
MRS. C. G. DAVIS, Ashland, Ky.
PFC. FRED H. GOLD, 24, enroute to Camp Meade, Va., (home address unavailable).
The REV. C. J. WASHINGTON, Negro, Portsmouth, Va.
MRS. S. M. LING, Roanoke, Va., hospitalized in Bluefield.
MYLES FOLAND, Bluefield radio announcer.
A railway official who did not permit the use of his name said the wreck apparently was caused by two trucks on the tender, which left the rails as the train rounded a sharp curve in the center of this McDowell county town, about 15 miles northwest of Bluefield.
MRS. W. B. POWELL, one of the many persons living nearby who saw the wreck, said the engine "went straight up into the air," descending into a cloud of dust and steam so dense that it was impossible to tell what happened.
MRS. MAE THOMPSON, who saw the wreck through her kitchen window, said the train was "going faster than I ever saw it go before," when it crashed.
Wrecking crews from Eckman and Bluefield were on the scene within an hour and a half after the accident occurred. Rail officials said they hoped to have the wreckage, which tore up both east and westbound tracks, cleared by midnight.
Two Navy pharmacists, JACK SIZEMORE of Ceredo, bound for Charleston, S. C., and RICHARD BOWNARD, bound for Norfolk, Va., helped injured persons in the first coach which was rammed into the back of the tender, and then went into the cab of the engine in an effort to help the engineer and fireman.
BOWNARD said "both men were dead, apparently by steam."
Both said the train was traveling "pretty fast" when the accident occurred.
Passengers riding in the five rear coaches, which were undamaged, said they did not know what had happened when the train came to an abrupt half. ELIZABETH TEACHEN of Houston, Texas, bound for Norfolk, Va., said the sensation was one of quick braking.
The coaches which left the rails did not telescope. Windows were smashed but none completely broken out, and the inside of the all-steel coaches apparently suffered only slight damage. The seats were not torn loose.
The accident occurred with 100 yards of the Powhatan baseball field, where hundreds of persons sat in a grandstand less than a month ago to watch the Arrow on her maiden trip.
About 30 homes, all affording a clear view of the accident, were clustered about the scene and there were many eyewitnesses.
The accident occurred two weeks after the "Powhatan Arrow", drawn by a new J-type streamlined steam locomotive, had been placed back in service after the government curtailed passenger routes to conserve fuel because of the soft coal strike. The train had made its first run only 11 days prior to the fuel conservation order.

Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1946-06-13