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Landslide Wrecks Train; 1910 Hawesville Kentucky

Hawesville, KY Landslide Wrecks Train, July 1910 Hawesville, Ky. July 19.—The Louisville, Henderson and St. Louis west-bound passenger train No. 145, which left Louisville for St. Louis, was wrecked by a landslide two miles from this city early today. Fireman REYNOLDS was killed and several passengers slightly shaken up. The landslide came just as the train was passing under a high bluff. The locomotive and baggage car were swept from the track by the avalanche and carried 200 feet. Two passenger coaches were derailed, but remained upright. Two heavy Pullmans kept the rails. —The Daily Press Sheboygan Wisconsin 1910-07-19

Historical Feature

By Donn Wimmer

When I was young I would hear stories of a train wreck just east of Hawesville but could not find anyone that knew much about it. Seems all they had heard was that the engineer was killed.

David Taylor, former reporter at the Clarion, was looking for anything about Hancock County and found a photo of a 1910 train wreck in Hawesville. I thought that must be the wreck I heard about. Along with the photo was a brief description:

Hawesville, Ky., July 19–The Louisville, Henderson & St. Louis west-bound passenger train No. 145, which left Louisville for St. Louis, was wrecked by a landslide two miles from this city early today.

Fireman Reynolds was killed and several passengers were slightly shaken up. The landslide happened just as the train was passing under a high bluff. The locomotive and baggage car were swept from the track by the avalanche and carried 200 feet. Two passenger coaches were derailed, but remained upright. Two heavy Pullmans kept the rails.

This was from the Daily Press,
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

I wanted more information on this historic wreck so I called our friends at the Daviess County Library. They have a “Kentucky Room” that has access to all kinds of records and old newspaper articles. I have had help from them in the past.

I told them about the 1910 wreck and the little info I had and asked if they could find anything more on this accident. About a week later they replied with an email saying after exhausting search they found this copy of the Monday, July 18, 1910 Owensboro Messenger. The story was headlined:

“ONE KILLED IN “TEXAS” WRECK
AND 5 INJURED

Where they came up with TEXAS is not understood unless it refers to something really big like the state of Texas.Newspaper stories in those days would follow their main headline with several “Sub Heads”.

This one had nine sub heads. Here below, word for word with a few deletions, is how the 1910 Messenger reporter described the Hawesville wreck:

WRECK AND 5 INJURED

The Dead
John Reynolds, Fireman, Louisville.

The Injured
*Ida Lee, Lewisport seriously bruised about body.
*Wilbur Slaughter, Hawesville, badly cut on legs and thighs.
*Maud Williams, Hawesville, cut and bruised.
*Birdie Taylor, Hawesville, cut and bruised.
*Charles Goering, Owensboro, shaken up, but not seriously hurt.
*D.C. Stimson, Owensboro, slight bruises on knees.
—–
The L. H. and St. L west bound passenger train No 145 was wrecked at 11:40 p.m., Sunday, night at a curve and embankment one mile and a half east of Hawesville, and the engine, baggage and combination car, extra coach and chair car were all thrown from the rails.

Fireman John Reynolds of Louisville was killed, five persons were injured seriously, and a number were shaken up considerably but not hurt. About 400 feet of track was torn up.

The train was carrying two sleepers, day coach, smoker and baggage car.

Engine Rolls Down Embankment

The engine turned over and rolled down an embankment about 75 feet to the water’s edge of the Ohio river, and is now almost buried in the sand of the river bank.

Fireman John Reynolds was thrown out of the cab and was caught under the baggage car, his body being mashed to a pulp. Engineer Bush stayed with his engine and escaped unhurt, not receiving even a scratch.

Cars Turn Over

The baggage car and smoker turned over, and three coaches were derailed, but did not turn over. The home of the dead fireman was Louisville, where his wife and one child survive. He was 35 years old.

The remains were taken to Hawesville and prepared for burial and will be sent to Cloverport, where the funeral and Interment will take place. Before her marriage, Mrs. Reynolds was Miss Mary Sippet of Cloverport.

The Injured

Charles Goering of Owensboro, traveling salesman for the F.A.Amps company, was in the smoker, which left the track and turned over, and he was shaken up severely, but sustained no serious injury.

Ida Lee, of Lewisport was seriously bruised on the body, but not fatally. Wilbur Slaughter,of Hawesville, was badly cut on the legs and thighs. Maud Williams and Birdie Taylor, of Hawesville, were cut and bruised, but were not seriously hurt.

Caused by Slide

The wreck was caused by the slide of stone and dirt from the hillside.
The train was in command of Conductor Nugent, and the engine was being handled by Engineer Bush who saw the obstruction of dirt and rock, and threw the brakes.

The train was going at a speed of 40 miles or more an hour, which was too great to bring it to a stand before it struck the mass of stone and dirt, but slowed it up sufficiently to prevent a much more serious wreck than the one which took
place.

The engine struck the obstruction and fell on its side not more than 15 feet from the Ohio River. The baggage and combination car fell on one end, there having been about 15 people in the car, who were later taken from the coach through the window.

The extra coach was partially turned over, thus saving serious injury and probably death too many. The front trucks of one sleeper left the tracks.

Fireman Reynolds was thrown under the baggage car, his neck having been broke. Death is supposed to have been instantaneous. None of the crew was injured in the least, and it is considered a miracle that more were not killed.

Wreckage at Work

The wreck crew at Cloverport first went to the scene of the wreck and began to clear it away. The wrecker from Evansville passed up at 6:30 a.m. today and both crews are at work on the wreck.

Several Wrecks at Same Point

There have been several wrecks at this same point, as the slides from the hill are frequent, especially after heavy rains and a night watchman is kept at that point in the rainy weather, but the watchman was not on duty Sunday night. None of the wrecks heretofore has been so serious as this one.

It is the most dangerous point on the road, by the reason of the fact that a cut has to be made in the side of a hill to make room for the tracks between the hill and the bank of the Ohio River.

Passengers Transferred

Train no. 146, enroute to Louisville, and due here at 3:50 a.m. passed up 30 minutes late, delayed on account of connections at Henderson, and on arrival here at 9:05 a.m. today. The Cloverport train was annulled, its crew having doubled up on train No. 45

D.D. Stimson Slightly bruised

Among those in the railroad wreck Sunday night, east of Hawesville were Dr. Hugh Kimbley and Mr. D.C. Stimson of Owensboro, and Mr. Lee Myers of St. Louis, who were in the extra coach. All were slightly shaken up and Mr. Stimson is bruised about the knees. He stated that the first he knew of the accident was his having been badly shaken up. He was lying down at the time of the wreck.

First Through Train

L.H. and St. L passenger train, No. 141 due to arrival here at 12:10 p.m. did not pull into the Union depot until 2:44 p.m. a delay of two hours and thirty-four minutes. This was the first train to get through from Louisville over the scene of the wreck of Sunday night and the damaged tracks have been repaired.

 

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