Colored Passenger Excursion Train Wreck, South Carrollton, KY
June 5, 1892, an excursion train was pulling a baggage car and three coaches filled mostly with African American vacationers along with some white passengers. An hour after leaving the Owensboro station, the train ran head-on into the regular north-bound passenger train of the O&N Railroad [Owensboro & Nashville]. The collision occurred near South Carrollton, KY. Four people were killed and more than 25 were injured on the excursion train. Passengers on the O&N train were shaken up but not seriously injured, except W. P. Scott, editor of the Central City Republican newspaper. Scott was injured when he fell and two men fell on top of him during the collision. The engines of both trains were completely destroyed. The injured persons were taken to Russellville, KY for treatment. The train collision was the worst that had occurred in the region and it was the first collision on the O&N Railroad line. The excursion train was referred to as a "Colored Excursion Train," though there were also white passengers on the train. The occasion for the excursion train is not known at this time.
Killed were Hugh P. Barclay, Jr., the white fireman; Henry B. Easley, the colored porter from Russellville; and Bud Greenwood and Henry Fields, both colored men from Owensboro, all were on the excursion train. The injured were Jerome Helm from Owensboro who lost both of his feet; Ed Lipscomb lost a leg that was crushed, and R. Blacklock (colored) from Owensboro, suffered a crushed leg; Albert Burderer, John Wood (colored), R. W. Barr (colored), and Frank Buckner (colored), each had a broken or fractured leg, as did the following men from Owensboro, Henry Webster (colored), Wood W. Griffin, and Amos Smedly (colored); Jim Bell (colored) from Owensboro had a broken leg and a broken ankle; Mary Morton (colored) from Owensboro, had an ear cut off; Thomas Moorman had a hurt leg; Joe Bell (colored) from Owensboro, and Will Scott had internal injuries; Willie Sanders hurt his back; Jim Fewman, the brakeman, had a sprained ankle; Eva Orr (colored) from Owensboro, hurt her head; Willie Clark from Owensboro had a bad cut to the head, and so did C. H. Caldwell, the baggagemaster from Russellville, and W. H. Powell from Drakesboro; Pat F. Fahey, from Russellville, was the engineer on the excursion train, he suffered cuts on his arms, legs, and face, and he had a dislocated shoulder (may also have had a broken leg); Eugene Gasser (colored) from Owensboro, was bruised; Henry Bowers, a traveling salesman for the Falls City Cracker Company in Louisville, was also bruised; Annie Webster, Eva Martin, and Will Clark were slightly injured. Three of the injured would later die, including John Wood who had a broken leg that was amputated the day of the train wreck.
The accident occurred due to human error. The excursion train conductor and engineer misread the time-table changes. The new time schedule had been distributed early Sunday morning, June 5, 1892, and the changes were to go into effect at 7:00p.m. that day. The start of the new time-table was misread as 7:00a.m. by both the excursion train conductor Oscar Rogers and the engineer, Pat Fahey. The mix-up led to the excursion train failing to stop at the Stroud Station that would have allowed the O&N train to pass. The excursion train was traveling from Owensboro to Bowling Green, KY, having left the Owensboro station at 8:25a.m., which was the wrong time. The regular north-bound passenger train from Russellville to Owensboro had left Russellville on time at 7:25a.m. The excursion train was running at full speed in preparation to get over an upgrade and the conductor could not see the oncoming train. The regular north-bound passenger train conductor saw the smoke of the excursion train and had almost come to a complete stop when the two trains collided at 9:30a.m. The collision happened one mile outside of South Carrollton at the mouth of a cut. With the excursion train being the smaller of the two trains, upon colliding, the baggage car of the excursion train was driven back into the passenger car, then the two trains went over the embankment. The engineers of both trains and the fireman on the O&N train were able to jump off their respective trains before the impact. For more see 'Fatal Collision in Kentucky," The Record Daily Union, 06/06/1892, front page; "The O & N wreck," The Bee, 06/09/1892, p.3; and "Colored excursion train leaves death in its wake," The Breckinridge News, 06/08/1892, p.2.
*excursion train=a chartered train used for a special event
*Owensboro & Nashville Railroad was originally the Owensboro and Russellville Railroad, chartered in 1867 and constructed in 1869, then re-chartered in 1875 and named the Evansville, Owensboro, and Nashville Railroad. The company went bankrupt and was sold. In 1877 it became the Owensboro and Nashville Railroad. For more see "Owensboro & Russellville Railroad" by Lee A. Dew in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, by J. E. Kleber, p.701.