The Echols Train Wreck.
The four pictures that are shown are pictures taken of the Echols Train Wreck that happened near Tunnel Hill. The time frame would have been in the mid-forties. I have more questions about the Echols Train Wreck, pictured on this web page, than I have information or answers. History seems to get lost unless there is a constant reminder and information written somewhere that will tell the story. After all, history is just happenings or events that occurred in the past. I am most certain that some of the people looking at these pictures and reading the text will be more knowledgeable of the Echols Train Wreck that I. Thus, anyone reading this, please feel free to come on back at me with any information you have concerning the wreck.
Oh Well, I have the pictures, and the script started for the page, thus will tell you more than I know. What follows will be a recollection of memories of the wreck. I did not go to the scene, but seems like I can remember Oakley Bratcher, Manse Jones, Mr. O'Brien, and other section gang members going to the scene to start the clean up process. Now, I am wondering if there were not two train wrecks that occurred near the tunnel. one occurring in the mid-forties and the other one in the eighties. Oh well, I would not be surprised if more than one wreck occurred. Anyway, following is a brief write-up of what I can remember.
Trains don't like to go up and down hills. They just operate better if on level or near level land. When railroads were built at the turn of the 20th Century, the ideal course for the railroad bed would have been on level land. Rockport, as well as Echols, are located on ridges some hundred feet above the Green River and for any railroad to cross Green River, in the Rockport area, these ridges presented minor problems. The ridge in the Rockport area was forty or so feet high at its' lowest point and that point was selected for the railroad bed. A little digging, building a bridge across the railroad bed and that problem was solved. Smooth and mostly level conditions existed until the Echols area. Now, a ridge of mostly solid rock and about one hundred feet high stood in the way of a level railroad bed. The decision, at the time, was to dig a tunnel through the rock in the Echols area. Once built, the tunnel unofficially became a dividing line between Tunnel Hill and Echols. Further toward Rockport, the ridge area became Pumpkin Ridge, but all of that is another story.
. I have four pictures in this presentation and I am hoping they will work for you as a "Slide Show". The first two pictures are of the "U S Post Office Railroad Car", one a close-up shot and the other, a distant picture showing some of the crash site visitors. In the other two pictures, Mrs. Gladys Boyd is standing in front of the Steam Engine in one, and the final picture shows a jumbled mess of some of the railroad cars. Hopefully, the "The Slide Show" will continue to switch back and forth as designed. Pictures are from the Boyd Collection and provided by Hilma Stewart. Thanks all.
I think the cause of the wreck was a bad rail section. Where there was breakage or separation, I do not know. This area was about as bad of a place for a wreck as could be found. In about any other place, the wrecked and damaged cars could be just pushed off to the side and allow train traffic to continue. At the entry to the tunnel, there was just not any "Push" room and every car had to be cleared before traffic could continue. Working day and night, the mess was soon cleaned up and train traffic between Louisville and Nashville continued.
Rockport and Echols have seen many years where railroad trains were busy plying the tracks from Horton to Martwick or Louisville to Nashville and even from Chicago to Atlanta. What was once a busy enterprise has seen a decline in railroad transportation. Businesses and times just will not stay constant. The "Railroads" are at about rock bottom and much further decline in operation may take the railroads the way of the horse and buggy. Let us hope a return to the "Glory Years" are in the making for the railroad. A wish for the "Steam Engine" would just be a futile wish, as it is gone forever. May our great-grandchildren be made aware of such monster machines. Thanks for looking.