South Bloomingville Railroad

Dust in the Attic

Columbus & Southern Railroad Line

Bloomingville RR

1898 Map
Columbus& Southern Railroad Line From
Circleville, Pickaway County, Ohio to Kingston,
Hallsville, Adelphi, Laurelville and to South Bloomingville.

The Train Wreck on January 12,1907


Photo From the " Laurelville Centennial" Book.
Donated by Teresa Wine Stevens.
The Book was Given to her by her Grandmother Gladys Forrest Wine

The Following  Information was Donated by Don Shaw from Paper's his Mother
Mrs. Lucille (Guy) Shultz Shaw Owned.

The Columbus & Southern Railroad
Compiled by Walter North

During the last part of the 19th century a financier by the name of Wilbur of Boston,
Massachusetts planned to build a railroad to operate between Columbus, Ohio
and Wellston, Ohio by way of the Salt Creek Valley.
For some reason the plan was changed and a railroad was build that operated between
Wyandotte, Ohio and South Bloomingville, Ohio.
Wyandotte, which consisted of one building (the railroad station), was the northern
terminal and was located between Stoutsville, Ohio and Amanda, Ohio and intersected
the Old Cincinnati and Muskingum Valley railroad (now the Pennsylvania Railroad).
South Bloomingville was the southern terminal although the road bed was constructed
as far as Ash Cave.
The construction Superintendent was Conrad Stevenson and the Contractor was
a J. G. Reeds.
The total length of the line was 22 miles.
It was a friendly little railroad and it was not necessary to go to a station to get aboard. The
train could be flagged down any place along the line.
The equipment consisted of a locomotive, passenger coach, baggage car, and caboose.
Also a limited number of box cars, coal cars and gondolas.
Its chief source of revenue was received from the transportation of lumber which produced
in Benton Township, Salt Creek township, and parts of Laurel and Perry townships in
Hocking County and adjoining townships in Pickaway and Fairfield counties. It also served
as an outlet for produce which was produced at a small factory located at Laurelville, Ohio.
The line had a fatality during its period of service to the public.
During the flood of January 12th, 1907 a group of people boarded the train at South
Bloomingville to see the flood waters. On the return trip just below Haynes Post Office
where the trestle spanned Pine Creek the waters of Big Pine were running full force. The strain
of the flood waters plus the weight of the locomotive was too much and the trestle collapsed.
The fireman and the engineer made it to safety but George Justice, who was riding in the
cab of the locomotive, failed to escape and was drowned.
The engineer on the run was Jose Thomas, the fireman was Jack Norris, conductor Clove
Denton and the brakeman Otis Eveland.
One of the passengers on the trip was Clarence Edwards and known as the Poet
Laureate of Benton Township.
He wrote the following Poem:

Wreck on the Columbus & Southern Railroad

'Twas January the twelfth, nineteen seven,
That a wreck occurred on the Columbus & Southern.
A party from Bloomingville, happy and gay,
Had boarded the train to go away.
Each intending to have a time,
Thinking that happiness wasn't a crime.
When a scene transpired that changed their tune,
And sorrow and sadness came all too soon.

As the train to the Salt Creek bridge drew near,
Many aboard were filled with fear.
For the water was high and a wreck was expected,
As the bridge all knew had been sadly neglected.
With a deafening crash it leaped to the ground;
The fire and steam and ashes flew,
And consternation seized all of the crew.

The people inside the cat -hole flew,
And some got stuck and some got thru.
Some jumped out at the open door,
And some of them cried and some of them swore.
For all were scared and knew full well,
That each had escaped a watery hell.
Save one poor fellow who drifted away,
And lost his life on that fateful day.

As I gazed at the wreck in that muddy stream,
It seemed to me like a gone by dream.
It didn't seem real to me at all,
That I had gone down in that terrible fall;
But I knew I was there and I'll never forget,
The frightened faces of those I met;
So comrades farewell I'll bid you goodbye,
Let's all be thankful we did not die.

Author: Clarence C. Edwards

Another flood in March of 1907 did a great amount of damage. The combined damage
caused by the two floods cost the C. & S R.R. one trestle, damaged to seven miles of road
bed and damaged eleven small bridges and culverts.
After everything had been repaired it appears that this was the last time the C & S Railroad
was in top shape. As the road bed and equipment deteriorated and the locomotive would
developed small leaks and the crew would carry their own "stop leak" which consisted
of wheat grain purchased from the Laurelville Grain and Mill Company, which was owned
at the time by Elijah Delong.
If the leak was too serious, the crew would have to draw the fire and leave the outfit set.
And merchandise or mail, along with the passengers would be taken through on the shooter
They tell this on the crew: When the rabbit season would come in, they would carry one or
two shotguns or rifles in the baggage car and then two of the crew would watch on either
side of the track for rabbit sitting in the grass. If they spotted one, they would stop the t
rain, shoot the rabbit, toss it into the baggage car, and drive on and watch for more rabbits.
Sometimes they would be aided by passengers.
The General Sup't. was L. F. Anderson who had engineered the construction of several
railroads including the "Hump" at River Rogue.
Robert White of 200 North Street, Logan served as brakeman for five years. He has in his
possession an annual pass, keys for the switcher, and a picture of the wreck.
This railroad ceased to operate in 1916.

Compiled by Walter North

From the Book

Taken From the " Laurelville Centennial" Book.

Wreck Haynes

The Train Wreck, January 12, 1907 at Salt Creek
Donated by Rodney Buskirk and Wendall Frazier.

Train Poem

A Copy of the Poem by C.C. Edwards
Donated by Rodney Buskirk and Wendall Frazier.
My Sincere Thanks to Rod and Wendall for donating the Pictures.


Incorporated January 31, 1899. This company is the successor to the Columbus, Lancaster and
Wellston Railway Company, which was sold at United States Court sale October 1, 1898.
Line extends from Lancaster Junction, Ohio, to South Bloomingville, Ohio, 34 miles.
Source, Ohio Railway Report of 1902, by the Commissioners  of Railroads and Telegraphs

The Logan Republican Newspaper
Thursday-January 6, 1938

Former Section Hand Recalls South Bloomingville Railroad

Railroads during the halcyon days at the turn of the century was recalled
recently by J. J. Johnson, Benton township, who once served as a section hand on
the line which extended from Lancaster to South Bloomingville. Others joined Mr.
Johnson to give the  basis for this story.
That railroad was known first as the Lancaster & Hamden line. Then it was
changed to the Wellston, Columbus & Southern road and finally the Columbus
& Southern line which it bore at the time of its abandonment. It started at
Lancaster and reached the headwaters of Salt Creek, which stream it followed as
far as South Bloomingville. It touched Amanda, Laurelville, South Bloomingville and

Tarlton. Builders had a vision, which if turned to reality, would have carried the line
southward until it penetrated the coal fields of Jackson county which would have
taken some of the business from the river division of the Hocking Valley railroad.
While trains never ran any further than South Bloomingville, the grade continued
down the valley for a distance of four miles. A part of the old embankment now is
used as a right-of-way for Route 56 near the Scenic Inn. When the hills were
reached the problem of tunneling through them presented a task which the backers
of the road did not care to undertake so the line never was completed as planned.


If the road had continued to its planned destination, it would have reached
Hamden and Jackson as  other stations.
Mr. Johnson recalled a wreck which occurred on the line in 1907 when a trestle
gave way allowing the locomotive and baggage car to crash into Salt Creek. A
victim of that wreck was George Justice, who was drowned when thrown into
the swollen waters of Salt Creek.
The Benton township man was on the train when it  wrecked. He witnessed the
drowning of the victim and reports that some of the train crew made strenuous
efforts to rescue Mr. Justice, but without success.
Another incident occurred while he was working as a section hand. The crew
had completed work and had run their handcar onto a switch to allow the
passenger train to pass. The foreman forgot to close the switch, so the train ran
into the handcar with enough force to derail the engine.
Traveling then was done at the speed of about 20 miles per hour. The foreman
suspected he would be fired for his failure to close the switch, so he quit. Later
company officials restored him to his job.
At several points along the railroad the track paralleled Salt Creek closely while
on the other side of the track it would hit the hills and bluffs. It was policy of the
railroad builders to lay track with the slope toward the hills, so if the train left the
track it would hit the hill instead of crashing into the stream.



Preceding daylight for two hours on Saturday morning last, the elements were at the worst ever known, remembered by our oldest inhabitant. For January 12th, it was indeed remarkable weather. The heavens was ablaze with forked lightening, thunder crashed and rolled in tones of the loudest thunder. Wind prevailed to the high extent, hail as large as small chicken eggs fell in some places; but here in smaller size. but with terrific force for probably an hour. And the rain, well it was worse than rain-- almost in sheets, poured down constantly and made rivers of small streams and gulfs of the larger bodies. The wind and hail and rain, did much damage to the unsheltered stock and to the corn in the fields.

Many of the smaller bridges along the road and pikes were washed away and the larger ones weakened materially, while road beds in many places was made almost impassable.

Up to the noon hour Saturday the Columbus and Southern Railroad had escaped much damage from the high waters. This road skirts the banks of Saltcreek for more than half of its length and there are many small bridges and larger trestles on the line.

Mr. Anderson, the general superintendent, had all his section men out on the line as soon as daylight came, and every precaution taken to prevent accidents or loss of property. The superintendent boarded the train north and gave all the water crossings his personal supervision. He remained on the train south to South Bloomingville, and although the waters were high and mad in the race for the Scioto River, nothing of a serious nature was noted. Engineer had orders to slow up at the approach of each bridge and to cross as careful as steam would permit.

Such was the condition of affairs when train No. 4 left South Bloomingville at 1 p. m.. for the afternoon trip north. On board the train was Superintendent Anderson, Conductor Huffman, and Brakeman Denton. In the cab was Josiah Thomas engineer, Sack Morrison fireman, and a 17 year old boy named George Justice, who had formerly been in the employ of the road helper. This boy had no right to be on the engine, but it is suppose he made himself at home on the strength of his past connection with the road and the intimate acquaintance with the train crew. 

The train proceeded, uninterrupted, at the usual speed until Pine Creek trestle was reached, then the engineer slowed up and passed over safely. Forty rods up the road was another trestle spanning some back water that emptied into Saltcreek. This trestle is about 100 feet in length, and engineer kept the steam down during this time intending to continue this slow pace over the latter. The water here was 15 feet deep on this day.

 Onto the second trestle crawled the 30 ton engine, and no sooner had the ponderous machine struck the wooden supports when it began to careen to the west, and before one-half of its length spanned the trestle works, over it went into the fifteen feet of water, falling completely on its back, and being entirely gulfed by the swift running waters. The tender went the same way bottom side up, and followed by the passenger coach, which from the crew contained  just 17 passengers. The coach, after tearing up the track for one and a half  of its length, toppled down the grade, which at this point is quite high, fifteen feet at least, and fell over on its side, the forward half of the coach landing in the creek to a depth of eight feet - the rear half resting up on the bank about two feet from the ties.

 At this juncture the scene became indescribable. Many of the passengers, including two ladies and a baby child, were in the forward part of the car, and these became frantic. Anderson, the Superintendent, and Denton, the Brakeman, were on the rear platform when the car went over. The men jumped to the east and escaped with but slight bruises. Anderson, being an old railroad man, knew just what to do, and after the coach settled, climbed back into the car and reached the forward end in time to save the infant child of Mr. and Mrs. Harley Karshner, from drowning, in the car, the coach having filled with water. Mr. Anderson hearing the screams of the mother reached the child just as it was sinking in the water for the third time, and rescued it. He also assisted in getting Mrs. Karshner from the car, slightly injured, but crazed with excitement. Mr. Karshner suffered severely wrenched limb and was unable for a time to render his wife and child, but little assistance. It was thought at first that his limb was broken, but fortunately it proved to be only strained and bruised. The baby was jerked from its mother's arms when the coach went over, and the poor woman struggled valiantly in the waters screaming for some one to save her babe. 

Elsworth Chilcote, of South Bloomingville, who has been almost helpless for years, from sickness and dropsical disease, was thrown violently  about the car, but helped out but little the worst for the experience, and cool as the coolest.
Mr. A. Patterson, traveling for a company in Chicago, and whose home is at Mt. Vernon, Ohio, was knocked around like old boots amid the seats. His hand and shoulder was injured slightly and had abrasion on his head and one hand from broken glass. He waded though water waist deep and reached the rear door of the coach, from which he jumped 14 feet to the terra firma. In his report of expense account to the house this week, will be included 10 cents for a pair of cotton socks. In his interview with the News reporter near the scene, he expressed himself as feeling overjoyed- akin to his feelings when he received word a year ago that his salary had been materially increased. He had read about the defeated candidates taking a boat up Salt river, but he could not tell the boys about his bath in a passenger coach lying in Saltcreek.

Elmer Russel suffered a bad cut on his hand, from which blood flowed freely until the Doctor's arrived and rendered the required assistance.

Miles E. Brown, another passenger from Bloomingville, found himself in water just under one of the coach windows. With his fist he broke the glass in the window and climbed out on the coach and into the water of the creek, from which point he was rescued. His act cost him great loss as the glass cut great incisions in is hands and head, and he is now resting at his home cared for by family and Doctors. It was feared that he would bleed to death before the Doctors arrived, and he fell into several faints from loss of blood. He is gaining strength slowly, and will be all right in a few days. He is a rural mail carrier.

Mr. Johnson, another rural carrier for South Bloomingville was on the train. He escaped by jumping from the side door in the baggage compartment. He seemed to be looking for something, and when he felt the coach bumping the ties he leaped to this door and through it he went, Jumping a distance of 14 feet to the railroad grade. In the jump he strained the muscles of his legs slightly.

Mrs. Bray, who lives beyond South Bloomingville, was the one other lady passenger. She escaped with shaking, slight bruises and a consequent fright.

 Mr. Anderson, the Superintendent, got a bump on his head that hurt some, but he cannot tell from what source it came. 

The most thrilling scenes connected with the accident occurred to the occupants of the engine.

 Engineer, Josiah Thomas, as soon as the engine struck the trestle works, realized that there was going to be something doing, and when the engine began to leave the rails and topple toward the creek, he leaped from the box and with the momentum of the engine was thrown far out into the creek and away from the engine cab, which turned completely upside down.

 Thomas found himself the next instant, struggling with the current and huge waves made by the engine falling into the waters. He passed under a portion of the wreckage and was forced under the forward end of the coach and came out from the other side. He looked for an opening and noted the friendly arms of a sycamore tree extending out over the water and right in the path he was taking. To grasp this was his aim and he succeeded nicely, remaining there several minutes until rescued by J. J. Johnson and Claude Denton. Other than a wetting he was unhurt and none the worse. He has been making regular runs every day since.

Jack Morrison, the fireman, was not so lucky. He was caught by some parts of the engine and thrown out in the water on the engineer's side. His head struck against some of the machinery, cutting an ugly hole in the same and causing the loss of some blood. His left shoulder was also badly strained, but he has recovered nicely and resumed his work on Wednesday evening.

The most unfortunate circumstance of the wreck, and the most horrible story is yet to be told.

George Justice, a lad in the 17th year, was "beating his way" in the engine. His home is at South Bloomingville and he had been employed by the company, but was discharged two months ago, on account of his youth. He begged the engine crew to let him ride to Laurelville as he wanted to buy medicine for his mother who was sick. When the engine went over, this boy was sitting on the fireman's box, and as the fireman made his jump he grabbed the boy and tried to pull him along. But how Justice got away from the wreck and into the water we cannot learn as the fireman's story does not connect rightly. The boy was seen out in the raging current and he was crying for help. J. J. Johnson and Claude Denton were attracted by the cries and made every effort to aid him. They noted that strength was failing the boy as he battled with the swift waters. The two men, realizing that to go into the water after the boy would be futile as the current was so swift and could not possibly catch up with him, and then the effort meant probable death for them. They ran down the track as fast  as they could, but then could not keep pace with the lad, who was fast exhausting. They cried to him to swim towards the shore and maybe they could reach him. He answered that he couldn't. Again the water washed over his form and when he came up he ws near the mouth of the Pine, and here the waters of this stream was rushing madly into Saltcreek. Where the two currents met, the boy gave up and went down for the last time, swallowed completely by the swollen streams. The two helpers ran across the trestle work that spans Pine creek and to a distance farther of 40 rods, and seeing nothing more of the poor boy, returned to the scene of the wreck in time to rescue the engineer from his perch on the sycamore limb.

In the excitement which followed, no effort was made to follow the creek and seek after the body, as most persons spoken to about the matter expressed it that there was no boat within miles and the swift water would probably carry the body down the creek for many miles. "Oh, what a night that poor mother spent?"

It was 1:30 0'clock when the telephone bell in Dr. Hemminger's office begin to ring. In responding the Doctor found Manager Anderson at the other end of the line. The manager briefly stated the accident and urged the Doctor to hurry ti the scene. Same occurred with Drs. Cain and Turner of Laurelville, and in five minutes time these professional men were on the road, driving to the limit of their animals' endurance. Soon news flashed to every quarter and in an hour after the accident occurred every road leading to Haynes Post office was covered with vehicles and occupants. On arrival at Kitchen's store and the hospitable home of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Mettler, the Doctors found the injured and in one hour all had been treated and attended to properly.

The Mettler home was thrown open to the injured and water-soaked passengers, and every member of the family and neighbors rendered valuable assistance in relieving the unfortunates. When the Doctors came, professional relief was given to those in need of some. Mr. Anderson, the manager, was everywhere, directing relief and giving encouragement and advice to those who were giving aid. No more qualified person could have been in charge of this unfortunate situation than Mr. Anderson. He was a man of twenty year's experience as he has been in a number of accidents and bears several scars consequently he knew just what to do to wasted no time in doing it. Everything he could do for the relief of the others was planned and one regardless.

On Saturday evening,  Mr. Vaughan organized a party to search for Justice's body. A number of volunteers brought a good boat, grappling hooks and ropes to the scene. On reaching Saltcreek however, the men were saved the trouble, as they learned the body had been recovered- found imbedded in a lot of brush caught in the roots of a tree. Mr. Cutright who lives close by, made the discovery shortly after daybreak, but did not disturb the body, fearing the law relating to such cases. The boy was found in an upright position, as if on his knees, his face resting downward on a root, which caused the only scar on the body. The right arm was imbedded in mud, and the left was partly raised. It looked as if the boy had been washed ashore, when yet alive, and was trying to climb the bank when he died from exhaustion, This is probable. His fingers were bent inward but not clenched. Other than mud, in the mouth, eyes, ears and nostrils, the body and features was natural, and the eyes closed. 

Joseph Egan and Peter Hettinger were among the first from Adelphi to arrive on the scene, and not  withstanding the protest of on-lookers, they carried the body from its resting place to the home of Mr. Cutright and when Undertaker Vaughan arrived, he took charge, under orders from kind-hearted Elsworth Chilcote. There was plenty of willing hands to assist the undertaker and the body was washed and placed within a new suit of underwear, and wrapped in sheets paid for by Mr. Chilcote, was placed on a push car and in this manner, conveyed to the home of the distracted parents in Bloomingville. 

The funeral occurred Monday afternoon at 2 o'clock, Rev. Bethel officiating. Interment in the cemetery across the creek. There was a very large attendance on the services and universal sympathy for the family was expressed by all.

The funeral expenses was raised by popular subscription, Messrs. Elsworth Chilcote and Postmaster Stone taking the initiative and contributors being citizens of Bloomingville and vicinity. The family consists of father, mother and two sisters and one brother. They are  very poor in fact that Mrs. Justice does washings to help maintaining the family. The neighbors say the deceased, considering his surroundings and the poor advantages he had, was a promising lad, better than most boys would be under the same circumstances. He was industrious and helped materially to support  the members of the family.



Border News Reporter's Pencil Notes:


No inquest was held over Justice's body.

The body when found, was just one-half mile below the scene of the wreck, and located on the same side of the stream.

In two hours after the occurrence, the crowds on the scene was estimated at three thousand and on the following day, Sunday the crowds numbered five thousand.

Don't pass judgment on the railroad until  you have all the facts. The trestle and grade was all right when the train went south in the morning and as the water was receding, isn't natural to think that there was less danger than later when it started north?

This accident may be termed a lucky one. Just imagine the result if the train had gotten entirely on the trestle before falling. Where would the coach have landed. In water 16 feet deep and imprisoned as were the passengers, how many would have escaped? Would it not have been a repetition of the Atlantic City disaster?

Through the kindness of Daniel Newhouse, the BORDER NEWS has been furnished with the photo of the wreck as it was last Sunday, and from which we will have a half tone made for publication in our next issue. Orders for extra copies should be sent in early. Mr. Newhouse is selling the photos at 20 cents each and has received several hundred orders. It is an exact counterpart of the wreck, and makes a valuable souvenir.

Messers. David Fast of Derby, Ohio, who carries an advertisement in the BORDER NEWS, in conjunction with George Burgoon of Laurelville, have contracted to remove the 35 ton Passenger coach from its wrecked position and place the same on the track. How the engine will be taken out is another matter to be considered. It is thought that it is badly wrecked and ill cost a large sum of money to be made again useful. The coach is not injured much as many would suppose, considering what it went through.



Whenever historians gather to talk about important events in the life of Hocking County, the 907 train wreck near Haynes is certain to be near the top of the list. Rarely has a single event touched the lives of so many. It grabbed the attention of the multitude of the grieving and the curious.
This story is repeated here word for word, as much as is possible, from the ADELPHI BORDER NEWS report a few days after the accident. Form or substance of that report have not been changed, in hopes that the reader might be able to witness the horror and tragedy that was felt by the folks in this narrative nearly a century ago. 

The passenger coach was recovered from the scene right away. The engine, however, laid on its back in the stream like a great wounded animal. It would be several weeks before a set of tracks could be laid down into the stream bed. The engine was then righted, placed on the tracks, and rescued from its watery grave. To the amazement of many, the engine returned to service soon thereafter. 

The Hocking County Historical Society has on display one of the trestle timbers that gave way under the weight of the train. It is amazingly still intact. It was retrieved from under the mud of the creek bed in 2002 by the present property owner. He graciously donated the timber and delivered it to the museum.

The Author

Produced by THE FINE PRINT in Logan, Ohio July 2003.




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