Of probably great interest to many persons in the Twin Counties, especially in the Galax and Fries areas, is the story of the train wreck near Fries which occurred on Friday, November 16, 1928.
Three persons were killed, and nine were injured in the Norfolk and Western wreck at Fries Junction. The story, as reproduced from the Gazette of Thursday, November 22, 1928, follows:
Crash of a freight train runrning at a high rate of speed into the rear of passenger train number 57 while backing into Fries Junction at noon last Friday, November 16th, resulted in the death of three, the serious injury of three and lesser injuries sustained by six more. The cause of the wreck is being investigated by the Interstate Commerce Commission and no statements were given out by N. & W. officials at Galax.
Lee Manuel, 39, Pulaski, passenger brakeman.
William Dillon, of Betty Baker, passenger.
Gladys Carpenter, Ivanhoe, passenger.
Mamie Carpenter, 14, sister of Gladys.
Captain Fred Hall, Pulaski, freight conductor.
Jack Isom, 16, Galax, passenger.
Sam Lyons, Ivanhoe, passenger.
J. M. Waldren, Roanoke, freight fireman.
Arthur Hale, Salem, R. F.D. No. 2, passenger.
G. E. Will, Roanoke, freight engineer.
B. O. Webb, Pulaski, ex-press messenger.
Jacob Kegley, Pulaski, Fireman
The injured were placed on the baggage coach of the passenger and brought to Galax where they were met by the ambulance and rushed to the hospital. Neither Captain Hall, whose chest was crushed, nor Mayme Carpenter, 14, sister of one who was instantly killed, was expected to recover. The Carpenter girl suffered a fractured skull and internal injuries from the crash but was very much improved at eleven o'clock this Wednesday morning and hopes for the recovery of each of the injured was held by hospital officials.
Wreck on Curve
The crash occurred on a curve near Fries Junction and the freight engine plowed through the passenger coach, splitting it and leaving the sides of the wooden coach on either side of the engine which did not leave the rails. Lee Manuel, Gladys Carpenter, 18, passenger, and William Dillon were instantly killed on the passenger coach. Dillon, it was said, was on the rear of as the coach when the crash occurred and was said to have started back through it when of he caught sight of the on-coming freight engine. He was too late. The bodies of the of victims were badly burned by escaping steam, it was learned at the C. L. Smith undertaking parlor here where the bodies were embalmed and prepared for funeral. Officials of the N. & W. Railroad ordered that no expense be spared in caring for the injured and in burial services of the dead.
Crash at Noon
The crash occurred at 12:01 p, Friday. The freight was travelling fast in order to make the Fries Junction before the passenger train arrived. Reports of the cause are being investigated by N. & W. officials and the Interstate Commerce Commission. Report of the disaster was made soon after it happened by C. L. Baumgardner, station master here. He declined to make comments on the report sent in to Roanoke headquarters to the public, stating that such reports are made from other officials.
First Passengers Killed Since 1921
Friday's victims in the wreck at Fries recorded the death of the first passengers to be killed on the entire N. & W. since May 2, 1921, it has been announced from general offices of the Railroad Company.
Wills, engineer on the freight, said he had eight minutes to make the siding, estimating that he would have four or five minutes to spare. Only one passenger train is operated on the branch, this making a round trip daily between Galax and Pulaski. At the Fries Junction spur, the train the main track and backs up
to Fries on each trip.
G. E. Wills, engineer and James W. Waldren, fireman of the freight, were able to leave Galax on the same train that carried the body of Lee Manuel, passenger brakeman, to Pulaski. Wills suffered from shock and Waldren from scalds on the neck and one arm.
Had Dreamed of Wreck
When Manuel left home Friday morning to go out on his run he told his wife that he wished he did not have to go as he had dreamed of a wreck, but that he would have to go. W. B. Wyatt, Pulaski agent of the Norfolk and Western was also disturbed in his sleep the previous night by a dream of a bad wreck on the line and the difficulty in getting to it.
Neither Manuel nor William Dillon who were riding the platform on the lookout as the train was backing to Fries, had a possible chance of escape, the trains meeting on a sharp curve. Had either train been a minute or two earlier or later the accident would possibly have been avoided, as with the exception of the collision point, on either side the track was straight, affording an extended view.
Crowds Gather at Scene
News of the crash spread quickly throughout Grayson and Carroll Counties and crowds visited the scene of the wreck from a distance. A crowd gathered at Galax when the dead and injured were brought here shortly after the wreck.
Conductor W. H. Whitmire, of Pulaski, was in charge of the passenger train.
Last rites of William R. Dillon, employee of the N. & W, Railroad who was killed in the train wreck near Fries Junction Friday, were held at the family cemetery at Ganbetta at one o'clock, the Rev. Alexander Cox, officiating. The funeral services were in charge of the Galax Chapter of Odd Fellows of which he was a member. The services were attended by a large group of relatives and friend.
Funeral arrangements were in charge of H. W. Boaz and Rev. J. R. Johnson. The body was cared for by the C. L. Smith Undertaking Parlor.
Pall bearers were Charles Whittington, John Lampkin, Posey Martin, William Jennings, Dolphis Vaughan and Walter Hanks.
He is survived by his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Dillon and several brothers and sisters.
The deceased was a member of the A. M. O. S. degree of Odd Fellows. He was thirty eight years old and unmarried.
Roanoke, Va., Nov. 20 - Two Interstate Commerce Commission investigators yesterday were in session here with employees and officials of the Norfolk and Western Railway, following their visit Sunday to the scene of the train wreck at Fries Junction on the North Carolina branch of the rail
way, where a freight and a passenger train crashed Saturday, killing a brakeman and two passengers on the passenger train and injuring nine others, three of whom may die.
No local announcements of the findings of the commission investigators were announced yesterday, and Norfolk and Western men said that the report of the decision of the commission probably would not be announced for a week or ten days.
All members of the two train crews who are able, were in attendance at the hearing to give what information they could. Officials of the Norfolk and Western who were at the scene Sunday were: J. E. Crawford, general manager; J. T. Carey, general superintendent; R. A. Smith, division superintendent; J. W. Robinson, train master; H. S. Walker, assistant train master, and W. B. Wyatt, agent at Pulaski.
Pulaski, Nov. 18. (Special)
Funeral services for J.Lee Manuel, passenger brake man who was killed in the train wreck at Fries Junction Friday afternoon, were conducted at the Baptist Church here at three o'clock this afternoon. Services were in charge of Dr. Tillman D. Johnson, pastor, assisted by Rev. Paul P. Martin, of the Methodist church and Rev. Robert King, of the Presbyterian Church. Burial was at Oakwood cemetery.
The services at the grave were conducted by the Pulaski Lodge of Odd Fellows and Lovely Mount Lodge, Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, of Radford. An unusually large crowd attended the funeral.
The deceased leaves a host of friends to mourn his death in Grayson and Carroll counties where he was well and popularly known,
The Galax Gazette , Thursday February 18, 1965