Just north of Dallas, GA, a tall steel trestle carries the Southern Railway tracks across Pumpkinvine Creek. On a Sunday morning in October 1903, engineer Jim Nichols pushed the throttles on his southbound 25-car train. The train sped forward, and it gained more speed on the steep down grade heading toward the creek. Once on the trestle, the iron bridge began to vibrate and sway.
Get an extended account of the train wreck, its causes and the follow-up at OurTravelCafe.com, which includes advertising links that may earn a fee for the author/website.
From an October 1903 account published in the Dallas New Era, disaster followed quickly:
The engineer “put full steam on but to no avail, the engine had done the work with its weight, and with a mighty crash the iron bridge fell, sending the soul of Fireman John Fagala into eternity and destroying thirteen cars loaded with corn, oats, cotton and apples. The engine proper staid on the track as only the north half of the trestle went down, the tank was wrung off leaving the engine on the remaining part of the trestle.”
For the extended account of the train wreck, its causes and the follow-up, visit: https://ourtravelcafe.com/train-wreck/
At the bottom of the ravine among the creek waters, changing leaves and twisted metal of the collapsed trestle, the engine tender and 13 freight cars lay mangled. Of the 11 steel spans that formed the 360-foot trestle, six of the spans had collapsed into the ravine with the train.
News of the massive wreck spread quickly in the small town of Dallas and beyond, even in the early 1900s before radio or television were available. Telegraph lines clattered the reports up and down the railroad route, and traffic was stopped and rerouted.
The scale and speed of the repair work was nothing short of miraculous. The New Era reported that the first train passed over the repaired trestle on Wednesday morning – a mere three days after the massive wreck.
See an original photo from the wreck site, route map, links to more details, original sources and more in our extended account of the train wreck at OurTravelCafe.com
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I'm a Georgia based family outing, Georgia outdoors and travel blogger. You can follow my blog at: OurTravelCafe.com. You can also follow me here on Newsbreak. Simply use the "follow" button, located before and after this article on your phone, or on the left side menu on your computer.