Train Derailment

derail
When I was a kid, a train derailed on 100 Highway. People say “Hundred Highway” where I’m from and not One Hundred or Century Highway or anything fancy like that. The train derailed in a culvert behind a little row of shops that sat up by the highway as some sort of last resort before you drove into the country.

We heard about the train derailment because it was the big news. People were calling the house and discussing the wreck with my father. I guess they thought he had some superior knowledge about train derailments because his father’s business had been train salvage, pulling merchandise off wrecked trains and reselling it.

Dad determined we had to visit the derailment. My sister and I got in his car, and Dad drove down 100 Highway to the wreck. My first impression was “this mess is a whole lot bigger than I imagined.” We parked on the caboose end of the disaster, and by the time we got there, the rail authority had backed the functional cars off the train, down the rails, and returned them to the station. We found a path down to the bottom of the culvert, and walked the rails to the derailment. As we got closer to the wreck, the rails were twisted and hard to walk on. We were eventually alone at the deep end of the culvert with a trashed out boxcar and the pretzeled train rails. The boxcar lay sideways, splitting the culvert.

At the time, I remember wondering where are all the people? Where are the workers? Who is getting this boxcar off the tracks? I remember thinking maybe this wasn’t the smartest thing we had ever done. What if the car collapsed on us? Or what if some train didn’t know the rails were blocked and came roaring down upon us?

About that time, Dad must have sensed something too. He yelled, “Don’t touch anything.” I wandered to the backside of the boxcar, saw a loose railroad spike, picked it up and slipped it in my jeans pocket. I’m not really sure what happened after that. I think Dad had a bit of freak out. Somehow the eeriness of the situation must have settled in his brain because when I came out from around the backside of the boxcar, Dad was standing at the top of the culvert like Moses on the mount. Dad was 6’ 4”, mostly legs, and my sister and I were too small to scale the steep culvert. We ran as best we could back down the twisted rails to a place where we could climb out of the disaster.

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4 Responses to “Train Derailment”

  1. Great story. Wow, that was one train too close for comfort.

  2. Yeah. Did you see the conductor of the oncoming train jump out right before they hit.

  3. Somewhere in the hidden depths of my mind…I remember the train wreck. Didn’t get to see it like you but I remember the news. And definately know 100 hwy!

  4. Good ole 100 hwy. We’ve raced up and down that stretch a million times.

    Hey Connie, remember that bad derailment in Waverly in ’78 when that propane tank exploded. I was looking for some pictures of that but I could only find one of them, and the news reports simply say the tank exploded when the workers tried to move it. I distinctly remember the speculation at the time was one of the workers threw a lit cigarette butt down and that was the cause. I guess it was impossible to prove as that became ground zero. It devastated that poor little place.

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