ACL wreck at Dillon, S.C. : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

There are official ACL photos of a bad wreck in downtown Dillon, S. C., in the early or mid 50s. One of the conventional passenger trains, perhaps the Everglades or Palmetto, hit a gasoline tank truck. The resulting fire severely damaged 2 of the 3 E units, and the engines and many of the cars derailed. Can anyone supply details, particularly the date and the exact train involved?

-- Larry Goolsby (, September 22, 1998


The second Dillon wreck occurred on April 20, 1954 at the Washington Street crossing. Northbound train 376, units 502,750,501, three express cars, one storage mail car, one baggage car, five coaches, one lightweight diner, and one heavyweight sleeper, proceeding at a speed of 52 miles per hour, struck a gasoline trailer truck owned by Beard-Laney, carrying 5050 gallons of gasoline. The diesel units and the first five cars were derailed, the truck was destroyed and the diesels, first, fifth and sixth cars were damaged by fire. The accident occured at 7:57 am. Two passengers, five dining car employees,a Pullman employee and the driver of the truck were injured. The crossing is 990 feet north of the Dillon passenger station.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, March 14, 2001.

Larry-just saw this on the forum. I will send you a copy of the ICC report for the second Dillon accident.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, March 14, 2001.

Kevin: I would be very interested in anything you may have on the April 20, 1953 Champion wreck at Dillon. That was a very severe accident which was the subject of an extraordinary ICC investigation. To this date, no one was ever able to figure out why the switch moved under the train. If you have photographs, I would appreciate them and would of course reimburse you for the costs involved. The rights to the photos would remain with you-I would just like to use them to illustrate an future article on this accident in Lines South. Any information on the crew members who were killed or injured is also appreciated.

As for the second accident, there was a grade crossing collision almost exactly one year later. Other accidents may have occurred in other years, but I am still building my data base on ACL accidents.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, March 14, 2001.

I know that their were two wrecks in the Dillion area one of a train rearended and the one of the Champion, before mentioned which I have photos of which are not available to the public, because Charles A. Hunt was my Grandfather and was Killed in the Derailment. I work for NS a conductor on the Old Southern out of Linwood. NS-conductor

-- Kevin R. Hunt (, March 13, 2001.

Thanks Harry for some good additional info. This is still not the same wreck as the official ACL photos I mentioned. The train pictured was a conventional train, not one of the Champions, and all units stayed upright although some engines and cars derailed. Judging from the photos, the cause was the train hitting a gasoline tank truck on a grade crossing; it happened in the middle of downtown. Many wrecks were not written up in ICC reports and perhaps this was one of them. Larry Goolsby

-- Larry Goolsby (, June 29, 1999.

June 26 The April 20, 1953 accident occurred 2.47 miles south of Dillon and may NOT be the incident you inquire about. However, according to the investigation conducted at Rocky Mount on April 24, 1953, the train involved was No. 2 -- Engs 532-542-501, one baggage- dormitory car, five coaches, one tavern-lounge, two dining cars, seven coaches, and one tavern-observation car in the order named. The derailment resulted in the death of 1 passenger, 1 train-service employee, and 2 dining car and chair car employees, and injury of 115 passenger, 2 train-service employees, and 23 dining car and chair car employees. Eng 532 rolled over at least once and stopped in an upright position with the rear 868 feet north of the accident point and 40 feet east of the northward main track. The fuel tank was punctured and the escaping fuel became ignited. As Mr. Riddell stated, accident was attributed to a gapped switch point. Harry Bundy

-- Harry W. Bundy, Jr. (, June 26, 1999.

The wreck about which I believe the original question was asked occurred on 4/ 20/53 when No.92, the northbound West Coast Champion, rear-ended freight train No.212 at the south end of Maple siding. At that time, the siding broke from the northbound main track, and both ends were controlled by the operator at Maple Tower, just south of the SAL/ACL diamond at Dillon. No. 92's engineer, Joe Sweeney, who survived the wreck, and retired as a roadforeman of engines, testified that his train was moving on clear signal, but the switch was lined for the siding where No.212 was waiting for him to pass. His fireman, Charlie Hunt, died in the cab of No.92's diesel (ACL 532), which flipped end over end, landed in an adjacent field, and burned. The conductor and flagman of No.212 were off the caboose, inspecting their train, and were not injured. The tower operator testified that he was preparing to line the route straightaway for No.92, when the wreck occurred. John W. Smith, my roadforeman of engines when I entered engine service in 1979, was a fireman at the time, and was called for the Rocky Mount wreck train, that stayed on the scene for almost one week.

-- Doug Riddell (, October 04, 1998.

Having resided in Dillon, SC 1977-92, I am consulting local sources who can assist in providing the information requested. At this juncture, the only accident that I can find documented is that of the East Coast Champion on April 20, 1953, in which E7 532 was seriously derailed. I'll be back after I hear from Dillon.

-- Jim Roquemore (, September 24, 1998.

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