Wreck in Meldrim, GA

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Does anyone have information about a wreck that occurred in or near Meldrim in the fifties?

-- John A. Buchanan (johnabuch@worldnet.att.net), June 29, 1999


The date on the Meldrim disaster was, in fact, June 29, 1959. The accident resulted in 26 fatalities.

- Tom Alderman

-- Tom Alderman (Topa12283@aol.com), June 29, 1999.

I, too, have a copy of the ICC accident investigation report. It was an SAL train running on track leased from the CofG in the early 1890's. I believe that chlorine gas was also involved. Not where I can get to my stuff right now.

The accident was called the "Swimming Hole Wreck" and was written up by the AJC (Atlanta Journal-Constitution to the uninformed) in the late 1970's as one of the major disasters to occur in the State of Georgia.

Bob Hanson

-- Robert H. Hanson (RHanson669@aol.com), June 29, 1999.

I also remember that it was on the Seaboard, and happened in 1959 - if Tom is correct that it was June 29, that's 40 years ago today. Unsurprisingly, it was a huge news story all around the state. I have a copy of the ICC wreck report "somewhere" but am not sure when I could put my hands on it.

-- Larry Goolsby (LGoolsby@aphsa.org), June 29, 1999.

The infamous wreck in Meldrim occurred in 1959 - if memory serves me correctly, I think it was June 29, 1959. The wreck actually happened on the Seaboard Air Line (Savannah-Montgomery line) right at the Ogeechee River crossing. As I recall (I was only 4 years old at the time, but the story is legend around Savannah), an SAL freight derailed on or near the bridge over the river. It was a Sunday afternoon and many people were cooking out and swimming in the Ogeechee. Several tank cars derailed and fell onto the ground below the bridge. The ruptured tank cars leaked what was described as an "eerie fog" all around the bridge. When the fog reached the first lit grill, he entire area literally exploded. There were many fatalities including entire families. I'll be in Savannah later in July... I'll double-check that date. By the way, that old SAL bridge is visible from I-16... to the left of the freeway as you cross the railroad (now the Georgia Central) going toward Savannah. During the "wet" season you can even see the waters of the Ogeechee flowing beneath the trestle.

- Tom Alderman (Marietta, GA.)

-- Tom Alderman (Topa12283@aol.com), June 29, 1999.


The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) in Savannah has a large collection of CofGa materials. There are several boxes of accident reports in these files, most from the late 40s to early 60s. It's very likely that this wreck could be documented there. These reports contain a variety of information, including train crew, weather conditions, description of scene, etc. The GHS also has a large number of CofGa drawings and diagrams, including some drawings of wreck scenes. These large drawings are usually highly detailed, showing topographical features, structures, trackage, and even car numbers and positions after the wreck. There are also several boxes of monthly reports, which would detail any and all wrecks during a particular month. The local newspapers from that era might also provide further information.

Allen Tuten

-- Allen Tuten (ahtuten@aol.com), June 29, 1999.

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