As a photographer for many of the Historical Society's holdings, I come across an item now and again that requires a personal second look. One such item was a yellowing copy of the Lawrence County News from 1965. The front-page was pretty much taken up with an account of a train wreck, and trains happen to interest me a whole lot. After reading the story and looking through the entire paper, I wrote a story for the Sumner Press.
When that issue of the Press got to my friend, Terry Ridgley in Tennessee, he wrote the following note:
“That was the summer before my senior year in high school, and I headed to Lawrenceville with my Yashica 35mm camera as soon as I heard about the wreck. [He lived in Robinson.] I took 12 photos (slides)....”
He gave me permission to use them, so here is my story and some of the photos Terry took.
Couple of Lessons from Bett by John Hamilton
I'm always a little amazed when I find out something I didn't know about the railroads that used to crisscross Lawrence County. Thing is, I guess, a fellow can't know everything even if he thinks he can. One person who knew a whole lot about this county and wrote more stories about it than I ever will was a woman named Bett Moore. For many years she was the editor of a weekly newspaper called the Lawrence County News.
Later she wrote for the Lawrenceville Daily Record. And even in her retirement in Florida, she would occasionally send a story. I'm pretty sure she is fondly remembered and often quoted by many people hereabouts.
I ran across her account of a railroad accident that happened in Lawrenceville in 1965. When someone called my attention to the incident and an article about it, I immediately thought the reference was to an accident 20 years earlier, at almost the same location, but with different results.
There were deaths on the earlier accident, none in the latter. But it WAS a big wreck.
Here's how Bett started her story: “Twenty-nine cars smashed beyond repairs, approximately 1,000 feet of rail and ties mangled and untold costs in property damage and cargo were the results of a derailment of the Baltimore and Ohio freight train in Lawrenceville Saturday morning.” The date was Saturday, August 7, 1965.
(continued tomorrow with photos)