Wreck of E3 #500

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Can someone give an account of the wreck that heavily damaged E3 #500?

-- Merrill D. Crissey, Sr. (mcrissey@ucfed.ucf.edu), July 25, 2000


Further on the wreck at Dillon SC. It occurred at approximately 11:16 pm on April 20, 1953 at the south siding switch at Maple. At this location, there was an interlocked siding switch on the northbound main track. The siding extended 1.76 miles, with the north end 3,775 feet south of the Dillon station. The speed limit at this location was 90 mph, and both south and north siding switches were controlled from the adjacent interlocking tower.

The train involved was No. 2 the northbound East Coast Champion. The trains consist was: ACL 532-Caught fire-effectively destroyed-rebuilt by EMD as E8a ACL 541 ACL 501 ACL 100-Baggage Dorm FEC Port Everglades-Coach-lounge ACL 202-Coach ACL 205-Coach FEC Hollywood-Coach FEC Cocoa-Rockledge-Coach FEC Lake Okeechobee-Tavern FEC Fort Drum-Diner FEC Fort Pierce-Diner RF&P 811-Coach ACL 219-Coach ACL 244-Coach FEC Hypoluxo-Coach ACL 236-Coach RF&P 812-Coach PRR 4043-Coach FEC Hobe Sound-Tavern-Observation

The train was proceeding at 90 mph under clear signals. The line was equipped with an automatic intermittent inductive train stop system (hence the 90 mph speed limit). The train derailed at the south siding switch. The first unit rolled over at least once and had its fuel tanks punctured and ignited. The second and third diesel units remained upright, but were leaning at a 30 degree angle. The first four cars were derailed and were mixed in with the diesel units and the resulting fire. FEC cars Hollywood and Coacoa-Rockledge were derailed and telescoped. Lake Okeechobee was derailed and leaning , while Fort Drum and Fort Pierce were on their sides. 811, 219 were on their sides across the tracks, 244 was upright but across the track, Hypoluxo was on its side across the track, 236 and 812 were derailed, but were upright and the last two cars were not derailed. The train's fireman was killed, as were one passenger, one porter and one dining car employee. 115 Passengers, 2 train crew and 23 dining car/porters were injured. Cars Port Everglades,202,205,Hollywood, Cocoa-Rockledge were scrapped, while the remaining cars were repaired and placed back in service.

After the accident, it was determined that the the right front wheel of the first locomotives lead truck bore a strike mark from the switches closure rail. This caused the switch to open, deflecting the rear trucks of the first unit and derailing the train. All signal and interlocking systems were tested and found to be working properly. The switch was last used about a half hour before the ill fated train arrived and there were no indications of improper operation. The switch was found to be within manufacturer's specifications and the only exception was a finding of rust in the control valve of the electro-pneumatic mechanism. Nothing was found to have contributed to the switch opening and the cause was never determined.

This accident was one of the worst in terms of equipment destroyed. FEC lost three cars, while ACL lost two. Other cars were damaged and required extensive repairs. The lead engine was essentially destroyed by fire and was sent back to EMD where it was rebuilt as an E-8a.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), September 08, 2000.

The wreck at Dillon NC on April 20, 1953 featured three ACL units- 532,542 and 501 in that order. The 532 was basically destroyed by fire. I have copies of the ICC report if anyone is interested.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), September 07, 2000.

Re: The wreck at Dillon in 1953. E7 532 was on the point. How was 501 involved? Or was it? I have a news story on this accident,but (story of my life) I can't find it today.

-- Jim Roquemore (roque@camden.net), September 07, 2000.

The Mango accident occured on September 23, 1948. ICC Accident Report # 3204. I will try to get a copy in the next day or so. But- apparently 500 survived this wreck and went on until its demise at Fleming GA. The early E units were tough-sister engine 501 went through several fearsome wrecks, i.e. Hortense GA 1941, Milan NC 1943, Dillon SC 1953, and it survived. At Milan, it destroyed obs car 250-but suffered only broken glass.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), September 06, 2000.

I thought #500 was destroyed in a wreck in Mango Fl in 1948. It was lead unit on the Havanna Spl. and went head-on into a steam engine on a freight bound for Tampa.

-- Augus Staebler (ASTAE@aol.com), September 02, 2000.

For those readers who are locomotive fans, the following roster data on the units involved:

ACL Train 8 The Miamian

500 E-3, B/N 958 Order 267 Built by EMD 11/39 for the Champion. As a result of this accident, the unit was rebuilt by EMD as an E-8A under EMD order # 8022. It kept its original builder's number and road number. 521 E-6, B/N 1559 Order E446 Built by EMD 3/42. After this accident, the unit received F-7 type number boards similar to those used on F-7 and later builds of E-7 units. 546 E-8, B/N 9184 Order 2009 Built by EMD 1/50.

Southern Extra 6237

6237-CNO&TP 1600 HP Alco RS-3 Delivered April 1952

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), July 27, 2000.

Now that it is lunchtime, I can go into some more details. Southern had trackage rights on the ACL between Jacksonville and Savannah. The accident occurred at Fleming Georgia, which is 24 miles south of Savannah.

Early morning on January 17, 1953, a Southern freight train was traveling north behind Diesel unit 6237, with 56 cars and a caboose. Around 2:20 am, a passing southbound train indicated to the crew of Extra 6237 that there was a defective condition on their train. The crew of Extra 6237 immediately threw out a fusee and proceeded to stop their train. The freight stopped about 500 feet north of automatic signal 5150. The flagman observed that the semaphore blade was in the horizontal position. The crew of the freight discovered an overheated journal in the eighth car ahead of the caboose. The flagman gave the freight engineer a go ahead to proceed to the nearby siding where the car could be set out. The flagman then proceeded over a mile south of the signal, where he placed two torpedos and a 10 minute fusee. He was directed to stop the following train-ACL #8 and inform the engineer that the freight would take the siding in the next town ahead-Daniel, and take a siding, letting the passenger train pass.

About ten minutes after the flagman set the torpedos, he noticed that the headlight of the northbound passenger train and heard the horn sounded for a nearby grade crossing. The flagman lit a red fusee and proceeded to give stop signals until the train passed. The engineer of the passenger train did not acknowledge the stop signals, but the flagman did observe sparks flying from the wheels of the passenger train, indicating that brakes were applied. The passenger train hit the caboose at a speed of 56 miles per hour.

The caboose and the rear six cars of the freight were destroyed, and one car on the adjacent siding was badly damaged. The passenger train consisted of three Diesel units-500, 546 and 521, two dead head sleeping cars, a baggage dormitory car, eight coaches, a tavern car, a diner and six sleepers. the first two sleepers were heavyweights, as was the first coach, the tavern car and the remaining six sleepers. The other cars were all lightweights. The train departed Jacksonville at 1:06 am, 26 minutes late and passed the nearest open station-Doctortown at 2:30 am, 24 minutes late. Upon striking the caboose, the Diesel units and the first five cars of train 8 were derailed. Unit 500 stopped on its right side about 56 feet west of the northward track, roughly parallel to the track. Its rear end was facing north and it was 342 feet north of the point of impact. The second unit stopped with its front end 338 feet north of the point of impact, with its rear end pointed southeast at a 30 degree angle. The last unit was stopped 350 feet north of the point of impact and it was laying across the track. The first four passenger cars were badly damaged, while the fifth car was slightly damaged. The engineer and fireman of train 8 were killed, while the conductor of the freight was injured, along with 81 passengers, 1 coach attendant and two dining car employees.

Apparently, it was a foggy night and there was concern that the crew of train 8 may have missed the signals south of the point of impact, which showed approach and stop and proceed. The speed tapes in the lead engine showed that the crew of train 8 did make the appropriate speed reductions ia several locations south of the accident location, and did blow the horn properly for a nearby grade crossing. The speed tape did show that the train was being operated 95-96 miles per hour when the emergency brakes were activated.

The ICC took strong exception to this as it had instituted an order on June 17, 1947 which limited passenger train speeds to 79 mph in areas where there was no automatic train stop, train control system or continuous cab signal system. Despite this order, it noted that more than 25 % of the passenger trains operated between Jesup and Savannah regularly exceeded this speed limit. The ACL was then in the process of installing automatic train stop south of Florence, but at the time of the accident, only 79 miles of track between Florence and Mt. Holly were in service. At that time, the railroad projected that the installation would be completed to Jacksonville by 1957.

ICC noted that 507 passenger trains operated between December 1, 1952 and February 28, 1953 exceeded the 79 mph speed limit. 47 of those trains exceeded a speed of 100 mph. In one instance, a train was operated at a speed of 108 mph for 10 miles and 100 mph for 25 miles. In another instance, a train operated at 99 mph for 42 miles. ICC concluded that the train speed contributed to the accident's severity, but that the cause was the crew of train 8 failing to operate in accordance with signal indications.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), July 26, 2000.

The ACL E-3 500 was destroyed in a wreck at Fleming Georgia on January 17, 1953. Basically, the unit was at the lead of ACL Train 8 along with units 546 and 521, when it rear ended Southern freight Extra 6237 North. The ACL train was operating at a speed of about 96 miles per hour, when it passed a block signal at "Approach",the flagman of Extra 6237 North, a second block signal at "Stop and Proceed" and only applied its brakes some 30 seconds before it hit the caboose. Both crewmembers in the lead engine were killed. The ICC went into some detail about the ACL's disregard for the ICC imposed 79 mph speed limit on that section of track. I have a copy of the ICC report if you like. Give me your snail mail address. There was considerable E-mail exchange on the issue of speed limits and train speeds in another section of this Forum, under the heading of "Informations on Florida Trains" some months back.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), July 26, 2000.

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