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Casey Jones Accident Report

I should note that the report below differs from later accounts of the accident by Sim Webb, Casey's fireman at the time. An account of the accident by Sim, recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis in the 1950s, states that no flagman was present and no other warning was given that the main line was not clear.

Subject: Collision of trains l and 83, Vaughan, 4-30-l900

Mr. J. T. Harahan
Second Vice President

Dear Sir:

Referring the 478 report No. 26 of the Water Valley District, Mississippi Division, and various telegrams from Asst. Supt. Gilleas covering case of passenger train No.l, engine No. 382, Conductor J.C. Turner, Engineer J.L. Jones, running into rear of freight train No. 83, engine Nos. 870 and 87l, Engineers L. Markette and C. W. Marchison, Conductor B. Hoke, at Vaughan, Miss., 3:52 A.M., April 30, l900, in which Engineer Jones of No. l was killed and the following persons injured. Settlement of various cases having been effected as shown by amounts opposite names:

Reports received to date indicate that Engineer Jones of the passenger train, who lost his life in the accident, was alone responsible for the accident as train No. 83 which was obstructing the main track at Vaughan sawing by train No. 26 was properly protected by flagman, who had gone back a distance of 3000 feet, where he had placed toropedos on the rail; then continued north a further distance of 500 to 800 feet, where he stood and gave signals to train No. l; which signals, however, were apparently not observed by Engineer Jones: nor is it believed he heard the explosion of the torpedoes as his train continued toward the station at a high rate of speed, notwithstanding the fact it was moving up a grade; collision occurring at a point 2l0 feet north of the north passing track switch. It is also stated that Engineer Jones of train No.l failed to sound the whistle for the station when passing the whistle board.

Jones entered the service of this company as fireman in March, l888, was promoted to position of engineer in February, l890, since which date his record has been as follows:

Engineer Jones was promoted to position of engineer in February, l900, and had a reasonably good record, not having been disciplined for the past three years. He had been assigned to passenger service between Memphis and Canton about 60 days before collision occurred and at the first opportunity thereafter Supt. King had talked to him about the importance of the trains to which he had been assigned, instructiong him to use good judgement, especially in stormy weather; to keep close lookout for signals at all times, particularly in approaching and passing through stations and yards; adding that the trains he would handle had been successfully handled by other engineers who were on the runs and that satisfactory time had been made. He particularly instructed Jones not to attempt to do any reckless running with the view of establishing a record of making fast time, or better time than the other men on the runs. Jones' work up to the time of the accident had been satisfactory.

Trains lst 72, 83, lst 26 and 2nd 26 were at Vaughan Station for No. 2; lst and 2nd 26 occupied the house track which was clear, and lst 72 and 83 occupied the passing track, which lacked about l0 car lenghts of holding the two trains. After sawing the two sections of No. 26 in at the south end, lst 72 and 83, while moving south on passing track to clear No. l at north end, stopped before going into the clear on account of air hose bursting on a car in lst 72, the rear of No. 83 fouling the main track.

Flagman J. M. Newberry of No. 83 who provided with the necessary signals had gone back to place torpedoes, also to signal Engineer on No. l to stop, and although he had a unobstructed view of the flagman for l l/2 miles, he failed to heed the signals, and the train was not stopped until the collision occurred. The explosion was heard by crews of trains at Vaughan Station by Fireman S. Webb (colored) on No.l, and by the postal clerks and baggageman on the train. Fireman Webb states that between Pickens and Vaughan Stations, after putting in a fire, he was called to the side of Engineer Jones, who lost his life in the accident, and they talked about the new whistle which had been put on the engine at Memphis; Jones stated that going into Canton it would arouse the people of the town. This was the first trip with the new whistle and Jones was much pleased with it. Fireman Webb states that after talking with Jones, he stepped down to the deck to put in a fire; and just as he was in the act of stooping for the shovel, he heard the explosion of the torpedo. He immediately went to the the gang-way on the Engineer's side and saw a flagman with red and white lights standing alongside the tracks; going then to the Fireman's side, he saw the markers of Caboose of No. 83. He then called to the engineer,Jones,that there was a train ahead, and feeling that the engineer would not be able to stop the train in time to prevent an accident, told him that he was going to jump off, which he did about 300 feet from the caboose of No. 83. Fireman Webb further states that when the torpedo exploded, train No. l was running about 75 miles per hour; that Engineer Jones immediately applied the air brakes and that when he left, the engine speed had been reduced to about 50 miles per hour. He also states that had he or Engineer Jones looked ahead, they could have seen the flagman in ample time to have stopped before striking No. 83. Train No. 25 was also flagged by Flagman Newberry and stopped where he stood, which was the same location from which train No. l was flagged.

Train No. l met train No. 2 at Goodman Station, No. l arriving at Goodman on time and taking the siding; it left there 5 minutes late, and at the time of the collision was 2 minutes late. Trains lst 72 and 83 would not have been at Vaughan Station for train No.l but for the fact that No. 83, while pulling into the siding to let No.25 pass, pulled out two draw-bars; which resulted in delay and prevented No. 83 going beyond Vaughan Station for the two sectiions of No. 26 and No. l.

As shown above, Engineer Jones was solely responsible for the collisiin by reason of having disregarded the signals given by Flagman Newberry.