Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

The Halloween Derailment at Boylan, 1987

This was a Norfolk Southern train inbound to Raleigh early in the morning of Halloween 1987 from Linwood Yard over near Salisbury, NC.  I’m fairly certain it was NS Train #352.

Overturned millitary vehicles

Overturned millitary vehicles

derailed cars full of lime

Derailed cars full of lime

Anyway, the train had a couple of long flat cars loaded with military trucks that were placed toward the front of the train. Behind them was that load of wood and the hopper cars full of lime, the cars that are sitting at funny angles.

The curve at Boylan is a pretty nasty one by railroad standards – a 10 mph speed limit and at the bottom of a long grade that begins all the way back at the fairgrounds.  The feedback I got from the railroad guys was that the long flat cars should have been toward the back end of the train.  The weight of the hoppers and the rest of the train pushed on the long flats and simply popped ’em out of the tracks as the train crawled through the curve at Boylan.

Pandemonium ensued, and this is the mess that resulted.  The train geek underground telegraph kicked in and somebody called me about the wreck. I had just this one roll of Kodachrome in the camera and shot what I could as I was able to more or less go anywhere I wanted around the perimeter. There is no way that would be allowed now!

The small (120 ton capacity) derrick seen above, #903025, used to be based here in Raleigh. It came out pretty quickly to begin the clean up.

A much larger derrick (250 ton capcity, two photos above)  came over from Linwood Yard.

It took them most of the rest of that day to clean up the mess if my memory serves me.  I was also told that the engineer and conductor got 30 days unpaid leave as penalty for the wreck.

About the photographer: Craig Zeni went to high school in Raleigh and graduated from NCSU.  He started doing railroad photography in 1983 and has been at it ever since. You can view more of his railroad photography on his web site.

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