Freight train-oil tanker wreck in Fayetteville in 1939 : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

When I was el3ven years old a southbound ACL freight train ran into a gasoline tanker truck in downtown Fayetteville, NC about three blocks south of the ACL depot around midnight of 6 May 1937. About all I can remember is that a tremendous fire broke out and the wooden sewers burned underground and were still being repaired years later. I remember the truck driver lost his life and a policeman on duty at the depot described the scene as "the backdoor of hell". I have several history books on Fayetteville and none mention this particular wrecy. I would like to find a detailed description of this wreck and its effect on the ACL, the town and the people involved.

-- Claude C. Howard (, March 07, 2001


Thanks again Michael and I'm sorry I don't have any ACL wreck photos but as a signalman I alwqys had a pick and shovel instead of a camara. In 1949 or 1950 John Maultsby's camp cars were parked at the freight depot in Dunn, nc and during the night a southbound diesel plowed through a tractor trailer full of canned tomatoes at the crossing next to the depot and sheared the trailer away from the cab and carried it a mile or so southward. The truck driver said he didn't feel a thing. The engineer and fireman dropped to the cab floor as cans of tomatoes and windshield glass hit the wqll behind themand no person in the sleeping cars awoke. Next morning when we awoke a large crowd was milling around picking up cans of tomatoes. we worked south that day and l9oked the engine over and the only thing that didn't cave in was the front coupling. Both sides were concave inwards. Later another unit towed the damaged unit by us flat wheels and all. With all those red tomatoes that made a gory picture but there were no injuries. The only train wreck pictures I have are four pictures of the aftermath of the wreck of Southern's 97 jumped off the tresle in Danvile on 27 September 1903 and carried 13 trainmen to their deaths. Each picture is about 8 x 10 (in black and white of course) and shows many local people standing amid the wreckagein their sunday best.

-- Claude C, Howard (, March 09, 2001.

A copy is on its way to you. A somewhat similar accident occurred on the ACL at Dillon in 1954, where a tanker truck was struck by a passenger train. I will have a full listing in a future "Lines South" article on ACL wrecks. Again-I am requesting photos of any ACL wrecks which may be floating around out there-especially those in the 1940- 1959 era.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, March 09, 2001.

Thank you Michael for the information and I would like to see the ICC report. My snail mail address is PO Pox 315, Supply, NC 28462.

-- Claude C. Howard (, March 08, 2001.

The particular wreck you refer to occurred at around 1:32 am on May 6, 1939 at the Russell Street crossing. The train involved was Extra 1668, a northbound freight train from Pembroke NC. The driver of the truck was killed as were the engineer, fireman and headbrakeman. The truck was destroyed, and the ensuing fire damaged the engine, 27 cars, several adjacent automobiles and three houses in the northwest corner of the crossing.

The crossing was not provided with any means of protection.

The ICC found that the accident was due to the truck being driven directly in front of the train at the grade crossing. It also recommended that stop signs or crossing signals be installed due to the heavy traffic over this crossing.

I have a copy of the ICC report, which has some detail as to what happened, and has statements from named witnesses.

Give me your address and I will be happy to send you a copy.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, March 08, 2001.

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