ACL Records? : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Thanks to the forum members who have identified a wreck for me - on August 17, 1905, Engineer D. L. Reig drove an ACL excursion train into an open draw at the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River at Bruce, Virginia, resulting is the loss of at least 15 lives.

I'm following this up in news, book, and journal accounts. I have been referred to the excellent book by Robert B. Shaw, A History of Railroad Accidents (1978), which has two paragraphs on this accident. Unfortunately, Shaw doesn't give specific references to his sources, so I don't know where his information comes from. He does mention, in general terms, that the ICC began publishing Accident Bulletins in 1902 and in these published brief reports on all major accidents since September, 1901. I gather that the Accident Bulletins are much less comprehensive than the formal reports that the ICC began requiring in 1910.

Anyhow, it seems to me that the ACL must have done its own internal investigation and that records of it might survive.

Where might such records be found?


-- John Garst (, November 17, 2004


A new source coming up are the records of the State Railroad Commisioners who reported on the accidents in their annual reports published in book form in June of each year. The Virginian Commissioners reported every year from 1877 and listed wrecks by operating railroad. The problem is that these have been so little used that they lie un-catalogued in State archives and do not appear in indexes. Ohio has moved to index its State Commissioners reports and make copies available through City libraries. I am pleased to say that the Northwestern Library at Evanston Illinois has formed a list covering most US States. Virginian records are there for all years except 1878 and 1888. Note that in 1902 the reporting transferred to the Virginia State Corporation Commission whose records I have yet to trace at all. Feel free to ask for more details.

-- Ray State (, December 24, 2004.

John, ACL and other railroads did investigate just about every accident of any consequence, and some kind of written report was always made. Unfortunately, to our knowledge, none of these railroad- generated reports for ACL or the other lines we cover survived in any systematic fashion. Scattered examples do exist that employees saved or that were in a few file collections that didn't get destroyed, but the quantity is very small. I can't think of but maybe half a dozen that I've seen in our archives, if that many.

-- Larry Goolsby (, November 17, 2004.

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