THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL, Memphis, Tennessee
DEAD UNDER HIS CAB
THE SAD END OF ENGINEER CASEY JONES
ILLINOIS CENTRAL WRECK
Southbound Passenger Train No. 1 Crashes Into the Rear of a Freight - Details of the Accident.
The south-bound passenger train No. 1 was running under a full head of steam when it crashed into the rear end of a caboose and three freight cards which were standing on the main track, the other portion of the train being on a sidetrack. The caboose and two of the cars were smashed to pieces, the engine left the rails and plowed into an embankment, where it overturned and was completely wrecked, the baggage and mail coaches also being thrown from the track and badly damaged. The engineer was killed outright by the concussion. His body was found lying under the cab, with his skill crushed and the right arm torn from its socket. The fireman jumped just in time to save his life. The express messenger was thrown against the side of the car, having two of his ribs broken by the blow, but his condition is not considered dangerous.
The other employees and all of the passengers were more or less jostled by the shock, some of them receiving bruises and slight wounds, none of which, however, were serious.
Every effort was made to stop the speeding train, but without success. Two flagmen were sent down the track with danger signals and torpedoes were placed on the rails as a warning, but the engineer did not seem to take any notice of the signals nor to realize the situation until within a short distance of the caboose, when he made a violent attempt to put on the air brakes, but the distance was too short to avoid the crash. The freight boxes were loaded with bundled hay and the scattered coals from the engine soon set fire to the debris and it was feared at one time that the whole mass of wreckage would be destroyed, but the fire was finally extinguished without doing very great damage.
The train was what is known as the New Orleans fast mail; it was running on time and was in charge of Conductor Turner of Memphis. The indirect cause of the wreck seemed to be a lack of switching facilities at Vaughan’s. Four long freight trains had gotten there and the siding was not sufficient to accommodate them. Traffic on the road has been unusually heavy since the recent floods and the delay in freight transportation has caused much inconvenience.
A wrecking train from Canton reached the scene soon after the accident occurred and the debris was cleared away and the track put back in shape within a few hours.
Engineer Jones had been in the service of the Illinois Central for many years and was highly esteemed as one of the road’s safest and most capable engineers. He lived at Jackson, Tenn., where his remains were shipped. He leaves a wife and three children.
CASEY JONES KILLED
Well-Known I. C. Engineer Meets Death in a Wreck.
The remains of Engineer Jones were taken to Canton to be prepared for burial.
The officials of the road, Messrs. Gilleas, King, Laden and Driver, with two wreck trains arrived about 10 a.m. and had the track clear by 6 p.m. The engine, tender and mail car of No. 1 and the caboose and two loaded cars of the freight were completely demolished.
from The Times-Democrat, New Orleans
Sticks to his post at cost of life.
Railroad Wreck at Vaughan’s on Illinois Central Railroad-Terrible Fatality Prevented by Engineer’s Loyalty to Duty - A passenger’s Story.
-*-Special to The Times-Democrat
Canton, Miss, April 29, - Passenger train No. 1, going south, this morning ran late a freight train at Vaughan’s, wrecking the passenger train and killing the engineer, J. L. Jones, commonly known as “Casey” Jones, and shaking up the passengers considerably. The Negro fireman received severe injuries, Baggageman Will Miller had two ribs broken and was injured internally.
The siding at Vaughan’s was filled with four freight trains and, in order to allow the passenger train to pass, the freights were compelled to seesaw track.
The engineer of the passenger, it is thought, failed to catch the signal, and his train crashed into the caboose of the freight. The caboose and one or two cards were badly smashed. The rear of the freight caught fire, which was promptly extinguished.
The wreck was cleared from the track about 2 o’clock this afternoon.
The body of engineer Jones was brought to Canton this morning. It will be prepared for burial and sent to his home in Jackson, Tenn. He is survived by a devoted wife and three children. Conductor Turner was in charge of train No. 1. Jones is said to have been one of the best engineers on the road and was well and favorably known here.
WRECK DESCRIBED BY PASSENGER.
Engineer Jones Died a Heroic Death
“The passengers did not suffer, and there was no panic,” said Mr. Hauser last evening, “but there was plenty of interest in the wreck, nevertheless. I was told afterward that two freight trains were switching and the greater part of one of them occupied the main track north whence the fast mail was to come. But the conductor of this train sent back a flagman with tree torpedoes and rested easy.
“There is a curve about a quarter of a mile to the north, and the engineer of the fast mail, Jones, could not see the caboose lights for more than a furlough. It was said by the mail clerk afterward that when he heard the detonation of the three torpedoes he looked out of the car door and said to his assistant: “There’s a flag, and Jones is running seventy miles!” I understand this was the fact. At any rate, Jones saw the caboose lights too late to prevent an accident. He said to the fireman ‘Jump!’ and closed the throttle. The fireman prepared to do so and called back, ‘You jump, too.’ To which Jones replied; ‘No, I’ll stay at my post.’
“He may have believed it to be his duty to stick to his post; perhaps it was that he hoped to avert the threatened wreck. Certain it was that he tried to do this, and the trial cost him his life. He had scant time, though, in which to give himself over to thinking, for there was much to do--there was steam to be shut off, the reverse to be applied, the throttle to be reopened, and the ‘air’ to be put on-and the time was pitiably brief.
“It may have taken every precious second of the time the poor fellow had to perform these duties. The engine crashed into the caboose, and he was buried under the mass of twisted steel and killed instantly by the crushing of the back of his skull. But he left the wheel-locked train behind him safe on the rails for the most part. It is true that the mail car climbed the bank six feet, cut off a telegraph pole, and that the baggage car went obliquely across the track in another direction, but the coaches and sleepers stood safe. I was jarred a little in my bunk, but when fairly awake the train was stopped and everything was still. I threw up my window and saw a red lamp waved frantically in the air, and was sure that trouble had ensued. Jones was underneath his engine, stone dead, when I got out in front. He was scalded afterward, but his death was merciful. The fireman was slightly wrenched and the mail clerk bruised up, but those were all the injuries I heard of. The mystery was that the passengers, in coaches and sleepers, were disturbed so little and hurt not at all. If the speed of the train after the torpedoes went off was accurately judged by the mail clerk, of course Engineer Jones did a wonderful as well as an heroic piece of work, at the cost of his life. The trainmen said that he thought the torpedoes were for the north switch, and maybe they’re right; and at any rat that theory puts the blame where it an do little harm, for Jones has finished his interpretation of train signals.
“The engine was thoroughly wrecked. It looked as though nothing were left but the boiler and trucks. The mail car had a hole in her side that an elephant could have been loaded through, and the baggage car was badly splintered. The marvel and mystery is how Engineer Jones stopped that train. The railroad men themselves wondered at it and of course the uninitiated could not do less. But stop it he did. In a way that showed his complete mastery of his engine, as well as his sublime heroism. I imagine that the Vaughan wreck will be talked about in roundhouses, lunchrooms and cabooses for the next six months, not alone on the Illinois Central, but many other roads in Mississippi and Louisiana. And there was absolutely no excitement among the passengers, though some of them kicked hard about the delay. They may have been born kicking.”
Copyright © 2000 Jack Gurner