• How can I find info about a railroad death?

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by 130MM
Andy M wrote:I hope I'm not posting a topic in the wrong sub-forum. My apologies if I have.

I'm working on a family history. I believe that in the very early twentieth-century my great-grandfather worked on a railroad as either a conductor or a fireman. (I only state what I believe to be true as I am not knowledgeable about railroads.) I say this because I was told that he died on the job when the boiler of the engine exploded and blew him off the engine and onto some rocks near the rail bed. It was said that he had extreme burns, but I don't know if he died from the burns or other traumatic injuries. This incident, I believe, happened either in east Tennessee, southwest Virginia, or western North Carolina. My great-grandfather's name was MacEwen "Mack" Vance. His wife's maiden name was Mary Beaver (here come the jokes), and she lived on to re-marry at least one after his death.

Is there some kind of database (railroad-related or any other kind) out there where I can find out the facts and circumstances of his death? I know that the information that I've shared is small, but that's all that I can provide.
Often, but i don't know if it was always, the ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) would investigate boiler explosions.

Try this:

http://www.archives.gov/research/guide- ... 4.html#top

  by 2nd trick op
The Interstate Commerce Commission didn't begin investigating rail accidents until 1911, and boiler explosions, which likely were a bit more common in that day, didn't arouse the curiosity that, for example, a mistake by a dispatcher, operator or train crew would,

One possible source wouuld be an archive of the Railway Age, the most prominent industry publication to this day. The only collecton of bound volumes in a public library of which I personally am aware is in Omaha, Nebraska, but I've also encountered copies in the engineering libraries of several major universities, so an inter-library loan service might be able to alert you to one nearby, In the early years of the Twentieth Century, Railway Age published summaries of accidents reported on an informal basis.

Nevertheless, even the alternative above is a longshot. The morgue of local newspapers is likely your best source.