June 28, 1959
A train carrying a butane tank derails; the resulting explosion kills 23
The train was traveling on a trestle bridge over the Ogeechee River when it derailed. It plunged into the river and exploded, killing and injuring swimmers and fishermen. According to the Associated Press, “A house a city block from the low trestle was destroyed by the enveloping flames.” The AP also quoted one of the rescuers, Robert W. Morris, who described the scene: “Some of the people never made it out of the water. And some that did got as far as 500 yards away before the fire overtook them. I never saw so much fire. Everything was on fire.”
It was later determined the train derailed after its weight compressed the train tracks. Also, a lack of guardrails on the trestle contributed to the extent of damage caused by the disaster.
The body of the victims, a young child, is shown here on the front page of The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, AL) June 29, 1959.
WARNING: graphic content
“Burn victims lie dead on the bank of the Ogeechee River near Meldrim, Georgia, when they were killed in the explosion of a butane tank that jumped the track of an overhead train trestle.”