The T&T Wrecks

Dates and Events on the T&T

Including the Bullfrog Goldfield RR, Tecopa RR and the Death Valley RR

 

Date & Location
(first reported by:)
Description
 
?
 

Broadwell Lake/Crucero

(Gower, H.P.)
Track Car vs. Northbound Train
 
Joe Scott and 4 Mexican section hands were speeding southwards after a long workday. With a blowing wind against them, they had put their heads down and despite 8 miles visibility, didn't see the northbound train until they piled up on the front cowcatcher of the engine.
Two hands were killed. When questioned by W. Cahill as to the cause of the accident, Joe reportedly said "I don't know, I was knooked oot!"

 

?

Tecopa

(Gower, H.P.)
Track Car vs. Switch
 
After a summer cloudburst had washed out the track below Tecopa, Bill Hinchfield (Traffic Manager) ordered out the section forman's track car to take him down to the scene. From there he was to walk around the break and be transported on to Ludlow. Scott Russell, also waiting for the now cancelled afternoon train, accepted Bill's offer to ride with him. Turning in his ticket, Scott joined Bill and they set off south. Unfortunately the track car split a switch at Tecopa. Both were seriously injured when thrown 'head over heels' down an embankment.
Scott was one of those 'ruffians' who 'jumped' an improperly patented Borax claim, the Clara Lode, near Ryan.
The T&T worried about the new 'claim' that Scott would file for 'damages'. They need not have worried, despite lawyers entreaties he refused to file a suit and the T&T paid his medical bills. An Antagonist and a Gentleman.

 

?

Gerstley

(Gower, H.P.).
Collapsed Culvert
 
A floodwater weakened culvert collapsed after the engine and tender of a northbound (mixed?) train had passed over. The following oil car and a refrigerator car went into the ditch. The cars disintegrated completely and as the reefer was carrying fresh meat and vegetables, the wreck was often referred to as the "Big Salad".
Note: This is NOT the wreck of Aug. 9, 1908.

 

1907, Oct. 1

Bonnie Claire

(Myrick, D.F.)
Open Switch
 
The northbound train ran into an open switch 'ditching the entire train'. Possible sabotage has been suggested as a cause, as on the same day a six-day strike of the B.G. and the T&G was staged.
The strikers offered to man a relief train but the company held out for a wrecker/work train. As a result, the rescue train left the next day, with the 107 passengers on the wrecked train having to spend the night aboard.

 

1908, Aug. 9

Gerstley

(Myrick, D.F.)
Culvert Washout
 
With heavy rains in the Eagle mountains, a portion of the roadbed was damaged 11 miles to the south, just above Gerstley. The southbound "Alkalai Express" powered by B.G. #13, hit the washout with the engine and tender flying across and landing in the dirt. The baggage car went into the washout, remaining upright. The first coach turned over on its left side.
The engine was hauled to Ludlow and rebuilt into B.G. #11.
 
Article from the "Tonopah Daily Bonanza" -- August 11th, 1908

 
{Pictured as a T&T Ghost}
 

1910, Dec. 29

Hicks (Bailey's) Hot Springs

(Myrick, D.F.)
Boiler Explosion
 
Running north of Beatty B.G. #12's crown sheet let go and her boiler exploded. The remains of the frame and wheels were towed to Ludlow. She was sold 'as is', rebuilt and later ended up as SD&A # 20.
 
Articles from the "Tonopah Daily Bonanza" -- December 29 and 30, 1910

 

1913, July 7

Noonday Mine

(Metscher, A.)
Runaway
 
With a new engineer aboard, TCM's engine "got away" and left the tracks on a curve about 1.5 miles below the Noonday Mine. This is one of the steeper parts of the route with several sharp curves.
Two verbal accounts say it was on returning from the mine and the engineer couldn't control the heavier load.
 
Article from the "Tonopah Daily Bonanza" -- July 8th, 1913

 
{Pictured as a T&T Ghost}
 

1915, Feb. 15

Morrison

(Gower, H.P.)
"Number #9 in the Ditch"
 
In 1915, #9 was the daily northbound mixed train. The practice at the time was to stop the train at the Morrison Wye and then back empty box cars up the Acme spur.
The engine apparently would back up the end of track, spot the empties, pull out and then reverse into the 'siding' and pick up the full cars. Again backing into the EOT, it would pick up the empties, and re-spot them in the siding for future loading. They would then proceed down the grade with the loaded cars.
Against all orders, the Conductor and Brakeman released the brakes on the standing cars to allow them to roll out onto the main track of the spur. When they applied the hand brakes, the cars wouldn't stop due to the heavy dew on the rails.
The engineer observing the situation, followed quickly, bumping the cars in an attempt to engage the automatic couplers. Instead this action sent the cars flying down the 1.5 mile steep grade.
The engineer then opened up wide and chased the cars down the track and made connection after a quarter mile chase. Unfortunately despite full braking and reversing the Johnson Bar, the tracks were so slick that they couldn't reduce the speed.
At an estimated 50+ MPH ("the next mile went by in less than a minute"), the front cars and the locomotive and tender hit the upper part of the Wye, then flipped over into the center of the Wye right in front of the startled passengers.
While the Conductor and Brakeman had jumped off on the upper part of the grade, the Fireman waited too long and hit the rocks, later dying of his injuries. The engineer was on the tender trying to set the hand brakes when the train turned over. He was thrown back into the cab. Despite the maiming and burns he suffered, he returned to an engine job within a year!
Pictures from the Hendrick Collection are in Myrick. pp.568
 
Article from the "Tonopah Daily Bonanza" -- February 18th, 1915

 

1921, Jan. 14

Dumont

(Sprau, D.T.)
Head-on Collision
 
A head-on between a mixed train and a work extra resulted in the death of three employees and the injury of three employees.
This accident was caused by the work extra being operated against an overdue superior train without orders and without proper flag protection, for which the conductor and engineman were held responsible.
Extract from I.C.C. #7/01/21 - Complete ICC Report #760

 

1927, March 16

Death Valley Junction

(Gower, H.P.)
Boiler Explosion
 
Harry Gower writes: "The morning train once pulled into D.V.J. with its usual flourish and coming to a stop with screeching brakes, the locomotive blew up with a town shattering roar, killing both men of the engine crew."
Another writer commented that it was a common practice to 'short water the boiler' to build up more steam and thus achieve a faster run when coming into D.V.J.
 
The engine involved was the T&T second #6 which had been acquired from the LV&T upon its demise. It was repaired and sold to Six Companies for work on constructing the Boulder Dam. - Myrick
 
The train was a northbound that arrived in DVJ about 8:00 AM. The engineer was 19 year old J. J. Floyd and the fireman was Charles Taylor. - Bill Metscher

 
Newspaper Reports
 

1929, Aug. 5

Soda

(Sprau, D.T.)
(Gower, H.P.)
Washout at Bridge 36-A
 
Train No. 25 departed from Ludlow at 5.40a.m., 10 minutes late, passed Soda at 7.35a.m. 30 minutes late, and was traveling at a speed estimated to have been between 20 and 25 miles per hour when it derailed near mile post 36, due to bridge 36-A having been washed out.
The engine came to rest with its front end on the north embankment, with the tender in reverse position to the right of the engine, both being badly damaged. The first four cars were scattered in various positions in the creek bed, considerably damaged; the fifth car was derailed to the left, on the south embankment, and the remaining equipment was not derailed.
The employees killed were the engineman and fireman.
Extract from I.C.C. #41/03/29 - Complete ICC Report #1549
 
While riding in the day coach on the northbound mixed, the train came to a sudden jarring stop, throwing Harry Gower over the seat in front of him. The Conductor, Bill Trenkle, went tumbling down the aisle. Recovering, both went forward to find the engine and tender in a "V" shape, dropped into an arroyo.
At the inquest, it appears that the Engineer, Frank Quinn and Fireman Ed Tagg had been looking back to check the progress of the train across an undermined culvert. Neither saw the arroyo ahead with the bridge completely gone, leaving only the hanging rails and ties.
The engineer was buried in the mud having been thrown down beside the drivers of the engine. The Fireman was trapped by a bent waterpipe against the boiler. The Conductor and Brakeman went to help the Engineer, while Mr. Gower freed the Fireman with a board from one of the wrecked cars. Both engineer and fireman died at the wreck.
Additional account (paraphrased) from Harry Gower's - "50 Years In Death Valley" - page 50

 

1942, Dec. 21

Baker

(McCulloch, J.A.)
Automobile vs. Flat Car
 
The accident took place about 8 PM at the intersection of Highway 91 (the old designation for I-15) with the tracks of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad Company near Baker. The roadway was dry and the night was clear and cold with the moon shining. The automobile was being driven by John Wolbert. The passenger and owner of the car, James M. Roe, was killed.
His mother, Edith J. Grover, sued Sharp and Fellows, the company dismantling the T&T.
Excerpt from 66 Cal.App.2d 736

 

 

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