Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway aka NC&StL, NC&Stl.L, ncstl,  




1915 Bridge Wreck

It Happened at Johnsonville, 1915

From the "NC&StL Bulletin", May, 1955:

      "The NC&StL draw bridge down at Johnsonville has had many ups and downs over the years.  That is to be expected since it is that kind of bridge.  In the old days, steamboats with high stacks; later tugs, and during times of high water on the river, even barges themselves and houseboats made it necessary to open the span, sometimes quickly.

      The old bridge -- and we are referring to the old one in use prior to the present modern one now in use -- has had its share of downs, as records prove.

      Recently, in moving some old files from the local NC&StL freight office located between Broad and Church Streets, Nashville, a number of old photographs turned up.  One of these graphically portrays a rather significant down for the old bridge suffered some thirty-odd years ago.

      In 1915, month and date not noted (* note: now known to have occurred August 5, 1915), a steam shovel was being moved from Eva over to Johnsonville.  According to Mr. Freelin Frazier, NC&StL Asst. to the General Manager, the "A" frame on the shovel failed to clear the overhead bridge superstructure on the draw, or actually a swing, span.  The photograph best describes the result.  Rail traffic was rerouted in the Nashville division north to Danville on the L&N for a month as the swing span was salvaged and repaired.

      Frazier recalled that a man and his wife (last name O'Donnell), who were in the camp car of the work train, shown partly submerged in the photograph, were drowned.  Their 9 year old daughter, however, lying on a mattress, was saved due to the fact that the mattress floated long enough to be reached.  It seems the old bridge had one too many downs."  


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