N&W in 1908 -- Burning trestle

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Sat Oct 4 22:32:59 EDT 2008

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
August 29, 1908

Passengers on No. 24 Between Cincinnati and Portsmouth Had a Thrilling Experience
Mr. 24, the fast Norfolk and Western passenger train between Cincinnati and Portsmouth, came dangerously near being wrecked in crossing a burning trestle near Batavia, Ohio, Wednesday night.
The scene was the Duckwald trestle, a mile west of Batavia, and flame was leaping four or five feet into the air when the passenger train tearing along at the rate of fifty miles per hour rounded the sharp curve. There is a down grade here, and to stop the train before reaching the trestle was impossible. The train accordingly plunged right ahead and reached the other side of the bridge in safety.
Engineer Henry Davis brought the train to a stop and together with Fireman Frank Miller, and Conductor Mike Gleason gathered up fire extinguishers and rushed back to the trestle. They found the sleepers, as the timbers lying lengthwise underneath the cross ties are known, burning for a space of six feet. Thirty minutes later and the timbers would have been burned up. The train crew then summoned a section gang, which was stationed at the trestle to guard against the fire breaking out anew.
It is thought that hot coals that dropped from a westbound extra freight which had cleared the trestle just a short time before ignited the timbers. The passenger train was five minutes late and the trestle fire had just received a fair start. Had the train been later, doubtless an awful disaster would have been the result. Engineer Davis saw a reflection ahead, but thought crossties alongside the track were burning, the curve hiding the trestle from view.
Gordon Hamilton
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