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
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."