Yesterday: 1920 train collision

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 7, 2011

Bill Yates of Statesville brought these photographs to the Post. They show some of the wreckage after a passenger train and freight train hit each other head on at 4:55 p.m. Sept. 28, 1920, on the Yadkin Railroad line just east of the Salisbury town limits. The next day’s Salisbury Evening Post described it as the ‘most disastrous wreck’ in the history of the Yadkin Railroad, which extended 40 miles between Salisbury and Norwood. The collision killed the passenger train’s engineer, C.A. ‘Dad’ Sigmon of Spencer, and its fireman, H.A. Oakley. Bruner ‘Red’ Phillips of Salisbury, the engineer on the freight train, was able to jump from his cab before the collision and sustained minor injuries. Several others were hospitalized, and more than a dozen other people were hurt, but not seriously. The passenger train was going from Salisbury to Norwood, and the freight train was coming into Salisbury. After impact, both locomotives tumbled down an embankment, while baggage and express cars of the passenger train split in half and went down an opposite bank. The collision happened several hundred feet east of a trestle over Town Creek and just around a curve. Yates said the wreck was in the vicinity of today’s Salisbury Sports Complex. The photographs belonged to Yates’ grandfather, Will.

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