On this day in 1907, Athens residents who had been hospitalized in Macon after surviving a Central of Georgia Railway train wreck on May 20th, returned to their homes. The announcement ran in the Weekly Banner:
According to news reports, other Athenians injured in the wreck were A. C. Bishop (shoulder), F. H. Bowden (cuts on head and left shoulder), A. B. Harper (left hip), H. L. Garabald (general shake-up), R. L. Bramlett (right leg and shoulder), J. W. Baker (bruised on head), and J. W. Fox (sprained left knee).
The No. 18 train from Athens was 20 minutes from it's next stop in Macon when it derailed at a speed of 30 to 35 miles per hour (reports vary). On board were approximately 50 passengers, including a special coach with a delegation of Odd Fellows members from Athens and area towns en route to the week-long state convention in Columbus. After being checked by doctors, those passengers not hospitalized continued on to the state convention.
The wreck was described in the Macon Twice-A-Week Telegraph:
As the engine struck the curve two miles south of Hillsboro the rails turned, probably caused by the weight of the engine coming around the curve. The locomotive, however, was over the rail before it had turned sufficient to throw it and so escaped. The three coaches were hurled about ten feet from the track, the first and last being badly smashed and the second, somehow, miraculously escaping damage and being laid intact against the embankment at the side of the track.
It was first thought impossible that the coaches could be so completely wrecked and yet no one have met their death, and all were greatly relieved when it was verified none had been killed. This was all the more miraculous as the train was unusually crowded because of the Odd Fellow's party.
The morning after the wreck, a short Atlanta Georgian and News update noted that "no cause is known for the Hillsboro wreck other than it was a derailment on a sharp curve." In 1907, train accidents were fairly common across the country, and this particular accident had too few injuries to garner much media attention.
The Independent Order of the Odd Fellows began in England, and were established in the United States in 1819 in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1851, they became "the first national fraternity to include women" with the establishment of the Rebekah Degree. They still exist today, with 10,000 lodges in 26 countries, working toward their mission "To visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan."
- Weekly Banner, Jan. 1906 - Dec. 1908 on Microfilm in the Heritage collection.
- Athens Historic Newspaper Archive collection in the Digital Library of Georgia.
- Macon Telegraph Historic Newspaper Archive collection in the Digital Library of Georgia.
- Atlanta Historic Newspaper Archive collection in the Digital Library of Georgia.
- Central of Georgia Railway Album by W. Forrest Beckum, Jr. and Albert M. Langley, Jr. in the Heritage collection.
- Central of Georgia Railway Steam Locomotive and Trains by James H. Goolsby, Jr. and Albert M. Langley, Jr. in the Heritage and general collections.
- 1909 Athens City Directory in the Heritage collection.
- 1904 Athens City Directory in the Heritage collection.
- Inside Secret Societies by Michael Bensen in the general collection.
- Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam, available through PINES.
- Station to Station by Steven Parissien in the general collection.
- Zephyr: Tracking a Dream across America by Henry Kisor in the general collection.
- Great American Rail Journeys by John Grant in the general collection.
- Making Tracks: An American Rail Odyssey by Terry Pindell in the general collection.
- Tom Mouse by Ursula K. LeGuin in the children's picture book collection.
- From a Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson in the children's picture book collection.