Enjoy the train ride, hopefully you’ll get to your destination.

Waterloo50

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Travelling by train in the 1800’s was hazardous at the best of times but a quick glance at one newspaper from 1865 highlights just how dangerous a short journey could be. This is just a snippet from one of the newspaper columns, the accident that occurred on the Tennessee and Alabama railroad sounds particularly horrific. Does anyone know anything about the July the 4th accident on the Northern Central Railroad!
F83DE784-BDA6-48EF-8606-7EB7D23FA3EB.jpeg
 

Waterloo50

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The August 9th one must have been afraid of law suits.
There was a lot more to this article, the newspaper was complaining that those responsible for the safety of passengers were not prosecuted, in fact the railroad companies tried to suppress any news of accidents. Occasionally a railroad company might pay the bereaved family a couple of dollars to keep quiet, it was very rare for a large and wealthy railroad company to ever see the inside of a court room.
 

Rhea Cole

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The Reynolds Station train wreck was a major tragedy. It was the first incident with major casualties in Tennessee. A Chattanooga & Alabama RR trestle collapsed & sent the passenger train plunging into Richland Creek. The New York Times reported that a boxcar with thirty-three black convicts locked inside was submerged & all of them drowned. "It is one of the most direful ever known in Tennessee."

NY .jpeg

New York Times

Buffalo Creek Trestle, Scott County TN March 28, 1915.jpeg

Buffalo Creek Trestle March 1815 Giles Co. TN. The collapse of the Richland Creek Trestle would have looked like this.
Looking Back At Tennessee Photographic Collection TN Library & Archives
I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, South America in the 1970's. There were buses that were wooden structures like 1860's passenger cars built onto truck frames. On our first day of training in country we were forbidden to ride on one of them at any time for any reason. Metal Blue Bird school buses had all but replaced the wooden buses that would be outlawed during the next year. Unfortunately, I was a witness to why we were forbidden to ride on wooden buses.

While driving to a meeting, I was amongst a Chevy Suburban full of PC Volunteers came down a long steep switchback grade to a bridge across a roaring mountain stream from our vantage point. A wooden bus had gone off one to the last switchback before the bridge & plunged down into the water. The metal frame, engine & wheels had made it all the way down to where swift water foaming around it. The wooden structure of the bus that had been crammed with Indians on their way home from market day had left a trail of shattered wood on the steep grade. Very best colorful going to market hats, embroidered shirts, ponchos & shawls fluttered from where they had been snagged on the brightly painted wooden splinters.

The wreck had just occurred. Traffic was stopped, & people were pouring off other buses cambering down the 45 degree bank to aid the survivors. The effect of the collapsing, splintering wooden structure of the bus on the highly packed passengers beggars description. Fortunately, there was no fire. It was the stuff of nightmares.
 

Rhea Cole

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Travelling by train in the 1800’s was hazardous at the best of times but a quick glance at one newspaper from 1865 highlights just how dangerous a short journey could be. This is just a snippet from one of the newspaper columns, the accident that occurred on the Tennessee and Alabama railroad sounds particularly horrific. Does anyone know anything about the July the 4th accident on the Northern Central Railroad!
View attachment 381003
Chilling.
 

Rhea Cole

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More costly than lawsuits was the effect of bad publicity stating the dangers of railroad travel. The movement of troops at the beginning of the war had victims due to lack of discipline, and not derailments.
Lubliner.
My favorite troop train narrative is Longstreet's men swiping hats off the heads of civilians who were cheering them along the way to Chattanooga. Oh how I wish they formed up at Chickamauga wearing lady's hats...
 

Lubliner

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My favorite troop train narrative is Longstreet's men swiping hats off the heads of civilians who were cheering them along the way to Chattanooga. Oh how I wish they formed up at Chickamauga wearing lady's hats...
Troops on the move was a definite morale boost for them. Maybe not that much though!
Lubliner.
 

Rhea Cole

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Troops on the move was a definite morale boost for them. Maybe not that much though!
Lubliner.
My all time favorite is the 1st Louisiana Zouaves who were being transferred from Florida to the A of NV. At a water stop, they unhitched the officer's carriage & steamed off on their own. I would give good money to see the look on the good folks of a small Georgia town who left church just as a hoard of drunken French speaking men in clown suits came roaring into town. Stores were broken into, virgins groped, whisky barrels broken open & the contents consumed in mass quantities. Leaving a number of their fellows dead drunk & actually dead where they lay when they fell off the train, the jolly scum of the New Orleans docks steamed onward until their officers finally caught up with them in Great Locomotive Race that even Buster Keaton could not have improved on.
 
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James N.

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One of the best - though much less dangerous - accounts of the annoyances of train travel is in Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches describing her journey from her home in Massachusetts to D.C. to begin her brief stint as a Federal nurse.
 

Rhea Cole

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One of the best - though much less dangerous - accounts of the annoyances of train travel is in Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches describing her journey from her home in Massachusetts to D.C. to begin her brief stint as a Federal nurse.
I have an account where Confederate infantry had to push the rail cars one at a time over a bridge.
 

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