Close Encounters of the Haunted Kind
Volume 257 Jot 'Em Down Daily News June 23, 2012
Close Encounters of the Haunted Kind
Copyright 06-23-2012 by RFL
Today’s News or is it Yesterday’s news today. Anyway the "Worlds Greatest Modeler's" home town newspaper, The Jot 'Em Down Daily News, Brings you the next in a series of original Alabama train stories
My Wife and I often make the trip from Birmingham to Irvington Alabama to visit our children and grandkids. We had lived in the area for about 30 years and over time became familiar with most of the local Train legends.
The one we became personally involved with concerned rumors of a haunted double track railroad crossing. It was located on Padgett Switch road, just off of highway ninety, outside of Theodore, Alabama.
You could not see a train approaching because of a sharp curve about 100 feet east of the crossing. If you saw the movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. In it was a scene where a truck is stuck on the tracks and the electrical lineman has a close encounter with some kind of UFO. Well that’s the railroad crossing I’m referring to. The story of the haunted railroad crossing may have been the reason Spielberg chose that particular crossing. At night even with lighted cross bucks it’s still a dangerous set of tracks to cross.
On January 12, 1951 at 7:30 PM a school bus with 10 children on board, 6 girls, 4 boys, and Ms. Mary, the bus driver. They were on the way home from a school play. The bus stalled on the double track railroad crossing. This was before lighted cross bucks were put up in 1977. Prior to that there was just a metal sign saying Railroad Crossing and it was considered a very dangerous crossing.
A late night nonscheduled heavy coal train was rounding the curve. The engineer saw the bus and the fear and terrified looks on faces of the bus driver and the children. The engineer could do nothing. It was just too short a distance from the curve to the crossing to stop in time.
The train was going too fast to get the children off the bus. The bus driver and all 10 children were killed, the train did not even derail and took over 4.5 miles to come to a complete stop.
On our last trip we pulled up by the gas station near the crossing and parked. I watched another vehicle start across the tracks. It stalled right on the westbound track. There was a family in the car. My wife and I were both a little nervous. After about two minutes we heard a series of warning blasts from a diesel trains horns. We watched to see if the car would get off the tracks. It did not move.
Just as I got out too see if I could help, the car started rolling. The father and Mother looked freaked out. The two girls were looking all around to see what was making their car move. My wife and I saw nothing pushing the car. After what seemed like an eternity, (but was actually less than a minute, tops) the car stopped rolling and it had been completely moved off the railroad tracks. The train roared on by, its horn wailing into the night as it thundered down the track.
After the train has passed, we both got out of our car and walked over to the stalled car. We offered to push their car on to the shoulder of the road. When we got around to the back of the car we saw a lot of dust on the car’s trunk, that’s not scary. But what was scary, were the little sets of children’s hand prints all over the back of the car. Now, that was very spooky.
Afterwards my wife and I jumped back in our car. And I drove us back to our Sons house as fast as I could.
This is all she wrote for this edition of the "Jot 'Em Down Daily News." The next edition will be out soon with our next train story. Anyway the "WGM" hopes you enjoy this series of train stories.
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