Pineola, FL Freight Train Collision, Oct 1956


Pineola, Fla. (AP) -- Two Atlantic Coast Line freight trains raced down a straightaway stretch into a headon collision Thursday, killing 4 out of 10 crewmen aboard and injuring 4 others.

Two Trapped.
Cars immediately behind the two diesel engines piled up and broke into flames after the crash, trapping two of the men inside. Their charred bodies were recovered later.
ACL officials began an investigation to determine the cause of the 6 a.m. collision in this isolated section of the Florida west coast.
The dead men were identified as:
B. T. MARTIN, engineer from High Springs, Fla.
E. W. VAUGHN, fireman from High Springs, Fla.
J. L. PHILLIPS, brakeman from Lakeland, Fla.
W. E. SNYDER, brakeman from Lakeland, Fla.
MARTIN, VAUGHN and PHILLIPS were members of the crew on the southbound freight. SNYDER was on the northbound freight.
The injured men, all on the northbound freight were:
OTIS BRIDGES, engineer from High Springs.
A. H. GOODYEAR, conductor from Tampa.
ROBERT P. TATE, flagman from Tampa.
WILLIAM HARDEE, JR., of High Springs.

A Mess.
"It's a scrambled-up mess," said John Purcell, an ambulance driver for the Garnet funeral home at Brooksville, who took the four injured men to a hospital.
Pineola is 60 miles north of Tampa.

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Washington 1956-10-18


High Springs Florida Rail Activity

High Springs was once a very busy crew change point on the ACLTampa/Lakeland to Waycross main line. At the time of 1956
wreck there was still a busy rail yard and locomotive servicing
facility there. Many railroad employees lived close by the depot and surrounding areas. There is no rail left intact today,
Despite being in the middle of nowhere , High Springs was an active railroad town. Visit the High Springs Railroad Museum, there
is a brick memorial out front with the names and occupations of
many former railroad employees. You'd be surprised how many
folks were employed by the railroad there.

Pineola Train Disaster

This tragedy was not the result of ( Dispatcher Error ) ~ It was Dunnellon Dispatcher Braddock who actually caught the error and phone Croom Station Agent Cooper , that both Atlantic Coast Line Freights were on a collision course. Agent Cooper raced down roads at breakneck speed ( over 90 MPH ) on ungraded roads trying to reach both trains in time , but unfortunately he did not.

This tragedy could have been averted and easily stopped if the trains had RADIOS INSTALLED to receive dispatches , instructions , orders and other alerts. Engineers had agreed in a " Holdout " that they would not use radios until they received additional pay as radio operators. One of the engineers killed , Blanton Thomas Martin of NO. 237 , was one of the leader's in the holdout.

To my understanding , it was the post-orders that were handed out via the ACL to NO. 118 that caused the blunder , putting the northbound train on the southbound track. If both trains had the use of radios this would have been prevented.

high Springs

High Springs was a division point and a railroad town at that time.
Crews would change out there, so it made sense to live in the small town.
Lakeland was also a division point.
When ACL and SAL merged to form Seaboard Coast Line traffic patterns changed and the yard and shops were eventually closed and the line North to Georgia was abandoned.
These two trains ran between High Springs and Lakeland.
If this is the accident that I know of, there was a dispatcher mistake that caused the wreck.
The accident happened on double track, when the nortbound train was ordered by the dispatcher to runaround a broken down train,
which put the nortbound train on the southbound track, butt he dispatcher forgot all about the southbound train.

High Springs, Florida

Interesting that so many of these crewmen lived in High Springs, Florida. I Google mapped High Springs out of curiosity. No sign of any railroading activity there. It is also in the middle of nowhere.