Haunted Places and Spooky Spaces: New Market Train Wreck

Haunted New Market Train Wreck 10122017

Even though the muggy heat of Summer has overstayed its welcome, the calendar assures us that it is, indeed, Fall. With the changing color of the leaves comes ever earlier nights; so enters the season of all things spooky. For those who love the unsettling tension of an October sundown, Elizabeth Lane, feature writer for the Jefferson County Post, is returning with a second season of our reader-favorite “Haunted Spaces and Spooky Places” series. Join us as we delve into the local places where things go bump in the night (and sometimes in the daylight).

Many this time of year decide to explore haunted corn mazes, embark on hayrides, and some even attempt to brave spooky houses. Few know that over a hundred years ago, a horrific accident would shape the history of a small town and our community at large, one that would put even the scariest haunted houses to shame. The infamous New Market train accident would leave many shaken and leave lingering questions that are still unanswered to this day.

On September 24, 1904, one of the deadliest head-on railroad accidents in United States history occurred. The incident occurred between two trains at exactly 10:18 am on the morning of the 24th. The Carolina Special from Chattanooga was pulling 9 cars, three of which were passenger cars. They were returning from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at the World’s Fair. The locomotive they would collide with was named Westbound Number 15. The train was pulling three passenger cars, as well.

The accident would occur on a railroad track that was adjacent to a stream on the property of Henry Clay Whitaker, a local civil war veteran. Whitaker would be one of the first people on the scene of the crash because he happened to be working on his property, and could only watch horrified as the trains were to collide.

The crash could be heard for miles around. Initially, it was reported that the incident took the lives of 64 people, along with both train engineers, and that more than 100 others were injured. Upon later research it was decided that 113 people were killed and over 205 were injured at the scene. 44 people that were seriously injured later died not long after the wreck, with the overall total of people affected at 318. The deaths were not only numerous, they were particularly gruesome. The wooden passenger cars were said to have been completely splintered in seconds.

Haunted New Market Train Wreck 2 10122017

To this day, it is still unclear as to why the second train did not make its scheduled stop in the town of New Market. It is reported that the train blew by the stop at an unusually high speed, putting it on its fatal path with the Carolina Special. At the time of the accident, both trains supposedly reached maximum speeds of 110 to 112 miles per hour.

People who walk along the railroad where the incident happened claim to be left with an unshakable eerie feeling. There is something about walking in the presence of such a catastrophic event that leaves many within the community unsettled, to say the least. A sense of dread or tension has been reported by those exploring the area.

Local legends express that something might just be lingering after all this time. It is said that locals sometimes can hear random train horns and other inexplicable sounds throughout the morning. Could it be the Westbound 15 and the Carolina Special trying to warn each other after all this time of their fate? Whatever the explanation, the New Market Train accident would rattle the core of a small town and the country in a way largely unfamiliar to a younger America.

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer

Jefferson Farmers Co-op 08112014