N&W in 1910--More fatalities

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Thu Jun 10 20:57:50 EDT 2010

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
December 23, 1910

Horrible Accident Results in Death of J. A. Snyder and H. H. Rowzee
Caboose in Which Two Men Were Asleep Set Afire by Overturned Stove and Both Burned to Crisp Before Bodies Could be Reached

The little village of Arthur, a railroad station on the Norfolk and Western about twenty-five miles west of Roanoke, was the scene of a horrible accident yesterday morning when about 3 o'clock, a fast freight train running out of Bristol, plunged through an open switch into a siding into which a slow freight train of coal cars running from Bluefield had just gone to permit the fast freight to pass. The engine of the train, No. 1005 [Class M1, 4-8-0], crashed into the caboose of the slow freight in which Conductor J. A. Snyder and extra Conductor H. H. Rowzee were lying asleep. The impact of the engine was so heavy that it crushed the caboose, overturning a red hot stove, which immediately set fire to the car and as the conductors were unable to get out from the wreckage they were burned to death before their bodies could be removed.
Hurried investigation into the cause developed the following facts, which seem to be about correct: The operator at the tower, it is stated, forgot to close the switch after the slow freight had gone into it to wait for the fast train and the main line was thus closed against the flying train. The engineer, when he saw what was about to occur, tried to stop his train, but reports received here state that as the train was making nearly thirty-five miles an hour, it was impossible to slow it down sufficiently to prevent the smash and the resultant death of the two men [Also contributing to the difficulty in stopping, the fast train was on a 1.3% descending grade.]
The fire which started in the caboose quickly spread to a car ahead and yesterday afternoon the cars were still smouldering away.
The remains of the men were recovered from the wreckage as soon as it was cool enough to handle and taken on No. 16 last night to Roanoke where they were prepared for burial. It was impossible to recognize the remains except through the relative size of the bodies.
Conductor Snyder was well known in this city, where he was married some years ago to Miss Bessie Garrett, a sister of A. E. Garrett, the well known engineer. He is survived by his widow and two children who are eight and four years old, respectively. Mr. Snyder has been with the Norfolk and Western for about twenty years and was well known all over this section.
His remains will be brought to this city on No. 1 today, and the funeral party will proceed at once from the depot to Bland Street Church where the funeral services will be conducted by Rev. Frank Y. Jackson and Rev. H. W. Mahie.
A telegram to W. J. Hutton last night from T. A. Gregg, one of the grand officers of the O. R. C., asked that as many conductors as possible be at the train when it arrives, to represent the order at the funeral.
Mr. Snyder was a member of the O. R. C., division No. 324, the Eagles, and Summit City Lodge, No. 144, I. O. O. F. Representatives from these orders left last night for Roanoke and will accompany the remains to this city. Those who went as delegates are. J. I. Trice for the O. R. C. and J. I. Mangus, for the Odd Fellows.
Mr. Rowzee had been with the Norfolk and Western for nearly ten years and was an extra conductor. On the second of November he was married to Miss Marie Reeder and went to live at 1423 Patterson avenue, in Roanoke, next door to 1425, where Mr. Snyder lived with his family.
The news of the wreck caused considerable excitement here yesterday, where Snyder was well known. On account of the fact that the accident occurred on the Radford division, it was very hard to get details from official sources, although word of the wreck had been sent to relatives of Mrs. Snyder who live in this city.
[Both conductors lying asleep? Who could have witnessed them asleep? Also, there is no mention of a rear brakeman. These conductors were the seventh and eighth N&W employee fatalities reported by the Bluefield newspaper in December 1910, all occurring west of Roanoke. Incidentally, both addresses cited on Patterson Avenue in Roanoke where the conductors lived are vacant lots today. Mail Listers will remember that just seventeen days before this accident at Arthur a telegraph operator was killed while crossing the tracks to go to work in the station at Arthur.]

Gordon Hamilton
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