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1946 Wreck - #661 NE of Jefferson, TX

PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:41 am
by 661Wreck
Bob Vernon here -- Archeological Steward with the Texas Historical
Commission and chairman of the Cass County (TX) Historical Commission.

I'm researching a T&P freight wreck northeast of Jefferson, Texas, that I
remember visiting o/a my ninth birthday, and I wonder if you or some of
your colleagues might want to join in my research efforts.

Dave Bland of the Red River Valley Historical Railroad Society sent me
a PDF file of the ICC accident report on the wreck, which occurred on
November 8th, 1946.

I have no morbid interest in train wrecks per se, but this one is special:

1) I personally witnessed the site within hours of the wreck. (It was a
real mess - the entire 20' deep cut was filled side-to-side with
"accordion-folded", jackknifed freight cars -- with the debris of the following cars piled
atop them. The engine (#661, a 2-10-4 "Texas") rolled over more than 90 degrees
to the left when a rail broke, and it landed on its left side/top and
plowed into the earth -- up to the steam dome... I still remember
marveling at those huge drivers -- that were much taller than I was --
sticking up into the air!

2) The cut where the wreck occurred was abandoned and the (short-radius)
curve was bypassed to the north by a new cut and longer-radius curve --
possibly to restore service quickly following the wreck. If that is the
case, the usual detailed cleanup and rebuilding was probably not done, and
the old cut may constitute a significant archeological site.

At present, my work in archeology [official Texas spelling, BTW] is as a
cartographer -- locating and mapping in early pioneer trails, traces and
roads. I have created several graphics including:

1) The current "DEM" (Digital Elevation Model -- or "hillshades") map layer
of the area -- which clearly shows two parallel cuts remaining at the
curve where the wreck occurred.

2) A modern, natural-color satellite image of the site, "draped over" the
DEM -- showing that the current railbed bypasses the old cut and sharp
curve (and wreck site).

-- if anyone is interested, and is willing to show me how to share them with the forum, I am willing to post them (and others) here..

I am interested in any information on the incident that may be found --
especially photos of the wreck and of #661 and T&P records of the recovery/cleanup work and the
re-routing of the main line. I am also interested in re-visiting the site,
(which, I assume is still railroad property) to perform an acheological assessment, but have no idea as to whom
to contact to obtain permission to do so. Any ideas?

As a materials scientist, I am also interested in finding a piece of rail
(the ICC report says the railbed (including rail, ties, spikes and
ballast) was totally destroyed for a length of 360 feet inside the cut,
and that the rails **shattered into numerous pieces**, (which were not all
recovered). The accident was attributed to a broken rail -- related (IMO)
to an evident metallurgical problem (brittleness/low ductility) with the

Please let me know if you or any member of your organization is interested
in / willing to work with me on researching this incident/site.

If we acquire sufficient historical/archeological information on the
incident, I will work to have a Texas Historical Marker erected on nearby
TX highway 49 -- commemorating the event.

I am also working on a "PowerPoint-style" presentation to share with
railroad-buff organizations.

I look forward to corresponding/talking/working with you and members of your


BobV / 661Wreck

RE: 1946 Wreck - #661 NE of Jefferson,

PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:41 am
by gbaileytx
Good luck trying to get information on the Jefferson wreck. I'm trying to track down info on a wreck near Monahans in '46 or '47. My father, a T&P brakeman, was on the scene a short time after the wreck and took pictures. I may still have them, and am searching.
If I learn anything about the wreck on your end, I'll let you know.
George Bailey, ex- T&P operator
El Paso

Re: 1946 Wreck - #661 NE of Jefferson,

PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:45 pm
by tom stamey
I have a photo of the wreck North of Jefferson Tx. made from the air and it shows a lot of the wreck and the two wreckers sent to clean it up. Send me you email address to [email protected] and I will send you the picture.

Tom Stamey

Re: 1946 Wreck - #661 NE of Jefferson,

PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 4:03 pm
by tom stamey
I tried to up load the picture but got a message that it could not upload the attachment. Don't why as I used the smallest size for it to load. If the moderator will send me his email address I will send the picture to him and maybe he can get it to download.

Tom Stamey