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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Info on troop train wreck (WWII)


Date: 11/06/00 13:09
Info on troop train wreck (WWII)
Author: BoilerWash

Hey guys, help me out on this.

I've read several books that mention a troop train wreck somewhere in Tennessee or there abouts during WWII that resulted in the deaths of a lot of soldiers. It gets into books sometimes because it happened for some reason that could have easily been avoided. Though I haven't found anything thats tells a lot of info about the wreck. The only thing I've been able to learn is that the engine was from (or eventually went to) the Louisville and Nashville and was numbered 418 and was a 4-8-2)

You guys know where I can find anything?



Date: 11/06/00 14:58
RE: Info on troop train wreck (WWII)
Author: run8

Shaw's "History of Railroad Accidents..." lists an accident that occured on July 6, 1944 at High Cliff, TN on the L&N. 35 people lost their lives, and the cause was listed as wide gauge. No other info is provided.

There was another significant accident, but since it happened during the first war, didn't involve a troop train, and the engine numbers weren't the same: 281 and 282, it likely isn't the one you had heard about. The only similarities are the location, the fact that it happened during wartime and therefore didn't get much publicity, and that it was so simple to avoid.

In case it was, this is considered the worst railway accident, in terms of fatalities, in US history. It occured near Nashville, TN, on July 9, 1918 on the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis. Two passenger trains hit head-on, and about 101 people were killed. The cause was a simply that an inferior train proceeded past where it should have met a superior train, and the collision ensued. There were no complicated orders, and no unusual circumstances. One train just didn't stop where it should have, and none of the train crew noticed.

I should note that the number of deaths in the 1918 accident is not firm, since there was some disagreement at the time, and range from 90 to 101. There was also an accident on the Brooklyn subway in the same year that claimed about 97 lives. The number of deaths in this accident is also open to dispute, but some consider it to be the worst railway accident. It depends on what set of figures you are willing to accept.



Date: 11/06/00 15:34
RE: Info on troop train wreck (WWII)
Author: run8

In looking at Shaw's book a bit more, there is another accident that might be the one you are thinking of. It occured on Dec. 16, 1943 on the ACL near Buie, NC, and involved a derailment and collision.

The last few cars of a southbound passenger train, No. 91, the Tamiami Champion, derailed as a result of a broken rail and separated from the rest of the 18 car train. The derailed cars leaned over fouling the northbound track of the double track.

A northbound passenger train, No. 8, also the Tamiami Champion, came along 40 minutes later, and sideswiped the derailed cars. 71 passengers were killed, most of them soldiers, and all but one were on the northbound train, since the passengers had evacuted the derailed cars.

While the derailment had set the stage for the accident, the failure of the crew on No. 91 to flag trains on the opposite track was the ultimate cause. The head end crew had not realized that there were derailed cars, and that they were foul of the other track, since they were preoccupied with repairing a broken coupler farther ahead in the train. Since it was cold, nobody had gone flagging in spite of a rule requiring it, since they didn't consider it necessary. They were not aware that there was a second problem with their train.



Date: 11/06/00 18:00
RE: Info on troop train wreck (WWII)
Author: ts1457

High Cliff, TN on the L&N, July 6, 1944

A book has been written about the wreck. I don't know if it is still available. The book is "She Jumped The Tracks" by John P. Ascher, ISBN 0-89826-054-X (soft bound), ISBN 0-89826-053-1 (hard bound). The book was copyrighted 1994, and the publisher is listed as:

M.J.A., Inc.
921 Lake Haven Road
Farragut, Tennessee 37922
phone (615) 675-6559

The book seemed well researched. Thirty-five believed dead I think. Besides the news being buried in the paper because of being overwhelmed by the casualities from the front, top secret Oak Ridge wasn't too far away. Therefore the military tried to keep things quiet about the wreck. The author founded circumstantial evidence that L&N's 4-8-2's equipped with ATC equipment on the right hand side of the front pony truck axle had a tendency to derail. He favors that explanation as the cause.



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