He’s Leaving on a Midnight train to Georgia

DBF

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 6, 2016
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1867 - Maco, North Carolina: Joe Baldwin was a signalman working on the Atlantic Coast Railroad. The train was making its usual run starting at Wilmington, North Carolina before heading south to Florence, South Carolina and ending in Augusta, Georgia.

On this misty night Joe is riding in the caboose as the train nears the rural station at Farmer’s Turnout located approximately 14 miles west of Wilmington when suddenly he felt a violent wrenching. Joe’s been working on the railroad for years and knew exactly what that meant - the caboose had broken away from the rest of the train and slowly comes to a standstill on the track. As the rest of the train chugs away Joe is facing a dilemma.

Joe was aware of three facts: his caboose is stuck on the tracks, coming down the line is another train and it’s not easy to stop a speeding train. He could jump off and run (saving his life) or he could signal the train soon to be barreling down the track. Joe knew what he had to do as he climbed out on the back of the caboose with a lantern in his hand. He had to save lives hoping for the best but also aware if the train did not stop in time he would never live to see tomorrow.

Joe Baldwin was a hero that night. He frantically waved his lantern so the engineer saw the warning light and began to slow down. Unfortunately the train was unable to stop in time crashing into the caboose and Joe.

Joe Baldwin was stuck between two powerful train cars and unfortunately was decapitated. Some witnesses saw Baldwin’s lantern proceed to fly out of his hands, spin a couple of times, and land right side up in a swamp as the lantern continued to burn. Everyone agreed that his action saved lives for what could have been catastrophic. So important was the job that cost him his life he was given a hero’s funeral from the town’s people.

Following the accident engineers were seeing lanterns swaying near the spot where the accident happened. At times the lights were so convincing, the train stopped while they looked around to see what was the reason for the glow. The lights were flickering about three feet above the ground appearing to sway and bobbed as if someone was in a frantic search for something. Yet the trains would start moving ahead on the tracks when they could see no person or reason for the lantern light.

When train workers and locals recalled the tragic death of Joe Baldwin the story began to spread that this must be Joe looking for his head. You see after his tragic decapitation it was reported they found his body but never found his head and the poor man was not ready to pass on to the next life until his body was made whole.

As one person described the Maco light​

“The eerie-looking thing sways a little and begins creeping up the tracks. Your eyes are magically glued to its movements. The thing comes on. It becomes brighter as its momentum increases. Then it begins dashing toward you with incredible velocity. Paralyzed, you just stand there waiting for the thing to rend you to pieces, but it never reaches you. It comes to a sudden halt fifty or seventy-five yards from where you are standing. It glares at you for a moment like a fiery eye, then it speeds rapidly back down the tracks. It stops now where it first made its appearance and glows ominously there like a red moon in miniature. Then it vanishes into nothingness.” {3}

In 1889 President Grover Cleveland was returning to Washington, D.C. after a trip to Florida. As luck would have it his train happened to make a stop at Farmer’s Turnout to take on fuel and water. As it was a nice morning the president decided to get off the track and walk around a bit. While on his walk he noticed a brakeman carrying two different lanterns one green and one white. He inquired why? and was told:

“they prevented railroad engineers from being deceived by the “ghostly weaving of the Joe Baldwin light.” {3}

In 1977, Joe Baldwin’s lights disappeared never to be seen again, perhaps his head has finally found its way home and he now rests in peace.

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:skull: 👻 👻 👻 :skull:


Sources
1. https://northcarolinaghosts.com/coast/maco-light/
2. http://www.saltmagazinenc.com/in-search-of-the-maco-light/
Pictures - Public Domain
https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/160000/velka/misty-moonlit-night.jpg

To read more on the Joe Baldwin Legend

http://www.wrrm.org/the-legend-of-joe-baldwin.html
 

NDR5thNY

Private
Joined
Nov 17, 2019
Location
Lumberton, NC


1867 - Maco, North Carolina: Joe Baldwin was a signalman working on the Atlantic Coast Railroad. The train was making its usual run starting at Wilmington, North Carolina before heading south to Florence, South Carolina and ending in Augusta, Georgia.

On this misty night Joe is riding in the caboose as the train nears the rural station at Farmer’s Turnout located approximately 14 miles west of Wilmington when suddenly he felt a violent wrenching. Joe’s been working on the railroad for years and knew exactly what that meant - the caboose had broken away from the rest of the train and slowly comes to a standstill on the track. As the rest of the train chugs away Joe is facing a dilemma.

Joe was aware of three facts: his caboose is stuck on the tracks, coming down the line is another train and it’s not easy to stop a speeding train. He could jump off and run (saving his life) or he could signal the train soon to be barreling down the track. Joe knew what he had to do as he climbed out on the back of the caboose with a lantern in his hand. He had to save lives hoping for the best but also aware if the train did not stop in time he would never live to see tomorrow.

Joe Baldwin was a hero that night. He frantically waved his lantern so the engineer saw the warning light and began to slow down. Unfortunately the train was unable to stop in time crashing into the caboose and Joe.

Joe Baldwin was stuck between two powerful train cars and unfortunately was decapitated. Some witnesses saw Baldwin’s lantern proceed to fly out of his hands, spin a couple of times, and land right side up in a swamp as the lantern continued to burn. Everyone agreed that his action saved lives for what could have been catastrophic. So important was the job that cost him his life he was given a hero’s funeral from the town’s people.

Following the accident engineers were seeing lanterns swaying near the spot where the accident happened. At times the lights were so convincing, the train stopped while they looked around to see what was the reason for the glow. The lights were flickering about three feet above the ground appearing to sway and bobbed as if someone was in a frantic search for something. Yet the trains would start moving ahead on the tracks when they could see no person or reason for the lantern light.

When train workers and locals recalled the tragic death of Joe Baldwin the story began to spread that this must be Joe looking for his head. You see after his tragic decapitation it was reported they found his body but never found his head and the poor man was not ready to pass on to the next life until his body was made whole.

As one person described the Maco light​

“The eerie-looking thing sways a little and begins creeping up the tracks. Your eyes are magically glued to its movements. The thing comes on. It becomes brighter as its momentum increases. Then it begins dashing toward you with incredible velocity. Paralyzed, you just stand there waiting for the thing to rend you to pieces, but it never reaches you. It comes to a sudden halt fifty or seventy-five yards from where you are standing. It glares at you for a moment like a fiery eye, then it speeds rapidly back down the tracks. It stops now where it first made its appearance and glows ominously there like a red moon in miniature. Then it vanishes into nothingness.” {3}

In 1889 President Grover Cleveland was returning to Washington, D.C. after a trip to Florida. As luck would have it his train happened to make a stop at Farmer’s Turnout to take on fuel and water. As it was a nice morning the president decided to get off the track and walk around a bit. While on his walk he noticed a brakeman carrying two different lanterns one green and one white. He inquired why? and was told:

“they prevented railroad engineers from being deceived by the “ghostly weaving of the Joe Baldwin light.” {3}

In 1977, Joe Baldwin’s lights disappeared never to be seen again, perhaps his head has finally found its way home and he now rests in peace.



Sources
1. https://northcarolinaghosts.com/coast/maco-light/
2. http://www.saltmagazinenc.com/in-search-of-the-maco-light/
Pictures - Public Domain
https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/160000/velka/misty-moonlit-night.jpg

To read more on the Joe Baldwin Legend

http://www.wrrm.org/the-legend-of-joe-baldwin.html
One of my favorite ghost stories from NC. I now live 10 miles from old Joe. The line Joe lost his life on was abandoned roughly 30 years ago.
Growing up in a small rural town, the old timers would gather at their favorite site and tell tall tales. The barber shop across the street from my fathers general store is the place they gathered. This is one of the tales they told. Fond memories!
 
Joined
May 1, 2015
Location
Upstate N.Y.
Interesting tale. It seems Joe could have saved himself and averted the crash in various ways. Since he was aware of the RR schedule he might have torched the caboose in a timely manor which would have been seen by the engineer from far away with plenty of time to stop.
 
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