Guyandotte River train wreck

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The Guyandotte River accident occurred on the morning of January 1, 1913 when the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway’s (C&O) train No. 99, scheduled to run from Hinton, West Virginia to Russell, Kentucky and headed by Mikado locomotive 820, fell through a bridge while attempting to cross it. The accident killed seven people.[1]

At approximately 11:00 AM, No. 99 approached the bridge and was stopped by a flagman protecting a bridgework crew that was unloading materials for repairs on it. In the meantime, Engineer E.B. “Shorty” Webber carried out maintenance on the locomotive while the fireman and front brakeman walked out on to the bridge to inspect the repairs and continued on to the opposite side.

After the flagman gave the all clear, Webber slowly started across the bridge with the intention on picking up the brakeman and fireman on the far side. Despite the ongoing repairs, the bridge had stayed open for several previous days under traffic with no problems. As 820 reached the middle of the bridge, the center span collapsed, plunging it into the river along with Webber and 13 bridge workers. Webber and six of the bridge workers were killed.[2]

Rescuers saved the seven other bridge workers from the river. Thousands of people lined the river as rescue efforts went on. Eventually the bodies of Webber and bridge workers J.W. Crawford, Charles Maddy (found 50 miles downstream near Portsmouth, Ohio), and Emmett Wood were recovered. It was not until June 1913 that C&O was able to salvage the locomotive from the river.[3]


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  3. ^ Don Mills, "Guyandotte Disaster", Feb 2005, based on "Guyandotte Disaster", January 1, 1913", Cabell Record Archives, reprinted in Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society Magazine, May 1994, accessed 24 Aug 2009