Near Floral City in Citrus County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
The Great Train Wreck of 1956
You are standing on the site of one of the worst train disasters in Florida history. The tragedy occurred October 18, 1956, on a dark and foggy morning in Pineola. At 5:12 a.m., people from five miles around were awakened when two freight trains collided head-on.
The trains, loaded with perishables and dry goods, were traveling on the same track, full speed at 49 mph. Realizing they were on a collision course, Dunnellon Dispatcher Braddock phoned Croom Station agent Cooper, telling him to get in his car and “go see what you can find.” Cooper and fellow agent Thomas raced 90 mph on an ungraded road to alert the engineers—but did not reach them in time.
At the sight of an oncoming headlight, the northbound train engineer slammed on emergency breaks as he yelled to his assistants to brace themselves for the crash.
An Ironic End
Four engines and 16 cars derailed. Four crewmen died, with fire engulfing the scene. Firefighters and hearses came from as far away as Tampa to offer assistance.
Ironically, this tragedy might have been averted if recently installed radios had been put to use. However, engineers had agreed to not use them until they received additional pay as radio operators. One of the casualties,
In Their Honor
We honor those who lost their lives in this tragic event:
Brakeman W.E. Snyder, No. 118, Section 2
Engineer B.J. Martin, No. 237
Fireman E.W. Vaughan, No. 237
Brakeman J.L. Phillips, No. 237
Engineer Otis Bridges and
Fireman William Hardee, Jr.
Erected by Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee.
Location. 28° 41.021′ N, 82° 16.369′ W. Marker is near Floral City, Florida, in Citrus County. Marker can be reached from South Istachatta Road (County Road 39) north of East Waller Lane, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is located on the Withlacoochee State Trail, a "Rails to Trails" bicycle trail, about one-tenth mile south of the trail intersection with South Istachatta Road. The marker is accessible only by foot or bicycle. Marker is in this post office area: Floral City FL 34436, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Battle of Wahoo Swamp (approx. 3.6 miles away); Historic Floral City (approx. 4.7 miles away); The Historic Duval House (approx. 4.8 miles away); Chinsegut Hill A Costly Florida War (approx. 8.6 miles away); Ft. Armstrong (approx. 9.1 miles away); On This Spot (approx. 9.2 miles away); Fort Cooper (approx. 9.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Floral City.
Also see . . .
1. Pineola, FL Freight Train Collision, Oct 1956. Pineola, Fla. (AP) -- Two Atlantic Coast Line freight trains raced down a straightaway stretch into a headon collision Thursday, killing 4 out of 10 crewmen aboard and injuring 4 others. "It's a scrambled-up mess," said John Purcell, an ambulance driver for the Garnet funeral home at Brooksville, who took the four injured men to a hospital. (Submitted on March 7, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Great Train Wreck of 1956. Pineola was the site of what has been referred to as "The Great Train Wreck of 1956." On October 18, 1956 a head-on collision between two Atlantic Coast Line Railroad freight trains occurred killing five crewmen. A signpost at the site of the crash on the Withlacoochee State Trail memorializes the event. (Submitted on March 7, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Categories. • Disasters • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 13, 2017. This page originally submitted on March 7, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 298 times since then and 39 times this year. Last updated on March 7, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 7, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 5, 6, 7. submitted on March 10, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 8. submitted on March 12, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.