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In Atlanta or in Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900 (Disasters)by Jeffery C. Wells
Synopses & Reviews
On June 23, 1900, Engine Number 7 of the Southern Railroad Company was making a run from Macon to Atlanta. However, for several weeks in the area, torrential rains had plagued the countryside. As the train pulled in to the station at McDonough, Georgia, there were reports that the rain had swelled some local creeks. One of them, unbeknownst to the engineer and railroad company, was Camp Creek, just north of the city of McDonough. When the train pulled out of the McDonough depot around 9:50 p.m. that evening, no one knew that the creek was now a raging river. The passengers were a bit nervous about making the trek in the awful weather, and when told of this by one of his crewman, the engineer is said to have remarked, 'We'll either be having breakfast in Atlanta or in hell'. When the train started across the tracks, the track gave way at the Camp Creek trestle. The train went crashing down in to Camp Creek, killing almost all the crew and all but 10 of the passengers on board. The scene was one straight out of a nightmare. The bodies were taken back to McDonough where the two local funeral homes were in charge of preparing remains. The coffins were laid out around the square for retrieval. Research have done has yielded some fascinating facts about the engine, specifically that it had been involved in several other crashes, killing more than 20 people before it made its way to McDonough on that fateful night. Also, the previous two engineers died strange deaths before the third, J.T. Sullivan, was killed in the crash on the 23rd of June. I have used local newspapers and eyewitness accounts to reconstruct the story. Images will come from The Atlanta Constitution, The Macon Telegraph, Henry County Weekly, and The Jackson Argus-Progress.
On June 23, 1900, the Southern Railroad Company's Engine #7 and its passengers were greeted by a tremendous storm en route to Atlanta, Georgia. Stalled for some time in nearby McDonough, travelers grew impatient as rain pelted the roof and wind buffeted the cars. When finally given the go-ahead, their resulting joy was short-lived: the locomotive soon reached Camp Creek- and disaster. After weeks of constant showers, the swollen creek had eroded the bridge supports. Under the train's weight, the bridge collapsed, and all but nine perished in either the fiery fall or watery depths. With the help of local newspapers and eyewitness accounts, Georgia historian and professor Jeffery C. Wells recounts this tragic tale.
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