Friday, March 23, 2012

The 1913 Guyandotte Bridge Disaster

On January 1, 1913, the C & O No. 99 fell into the Guyandotte River when the bridge collapsed.  Seven were killed in the wreck.  This poem, later a song, was written about the disaster.


It was New Year’s morning, Nineteen hundred and thirteen,
Engine eight hundred and twenty went down with fire and steam.
It was on this sad morning at about eleven o’clock,
The C & O Bridge at Guyandotte began to tremble and rock.
When the train reached Guyandotte the engineer was there,
Ed Webber was his name, he had dark and wavy hair.
He pulled his engine to the bridge, but the flagman he was there.
He held out the red as if to say, “You may cross here if you dare.”
Ed sat in his cab window so peaceful and so fair,
He did not know that on the bridge that death awaited him there.
Fireman Cook walked across the bridge and stopped on the other side,
He did not know that Webber was taking his last ride.
Rufe Medders was the bridge forman, a kind good-hearted man.
He stood there giving orders and signals with his hands.
His crew was working on the bridge, but this I think you know,
A-working for their families and for the C & O.
Brakeman Williams gave the signal and the engine started on,
But when she hit the trestle, he that Webber was gone.
The bridge trembled for a moment, and then went tumbling down,
They heard the engine crash below with a sad and mournful sound.
Conductor Love looked across the bridge, then turned and bowed his head,
He knew that faithful Webber was numbered with the dead.
Thirteen men were on the bridge, and when the bridge went down,
Six of them were rescued, while seven of them were drowned.
Ed Webber was the engineer, a brave and faithful man,
He went down with his engine, with the throttle in his hand.
  His body was recovered and placed beneath the sod,
We trust that he is resting with our Savior and our God.
Ed Weber left a loving wife and eight little children dear,
May God protect and comfort them while they remain down here.
Were those men religious?  This I do not know,
But when our Savior calls us, we surely have to go.
God bless their families, their dear old mothers too,
God bless their brothers and sisters, as they journey onward through.
Now all of us that see this song, be good and be true,
For God has said in his own words, that death will visit you.

There is a reprint of an article describing the wreck in the Cabell County Archives.

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