Bullitt County History

Bullitt County - 1882 Train Wreck

In October, 1882, a train collided with two mules just north of Shepherdsville, resulting in one death. The circumstances of this collision were described on page 4 of The Courier-Journal of 22 Oct 1882. It is transcribed below.

A Serious Smash-Up

A Freight Train on the L. and N. Road Runs Into a Couple of Mules, With Terrible Results.

Engineer Minott Killed.

A serious accident occurred yesterday morning on the main branch of the L. and N. road, attended by a loss of both life and property. Between 11 and 12 o'clock, as a long freight train heavily loaded with cotton, George pine and corn was coming north, it was thrown from the track at the north end of Shepherdsville, in Bullitt County, about ten miles south of this city. It appears that at the place at which the accident occurred, there is a cow-gap, or open culvert. In this gap two mules had become fastened in an effort to jump over it. Beyond the gap, there is a steep up-grade, and in order to make the run over it with a heavy train, it is necessary to run very fast, which was being done when the mules were espied in the gap. It was too late, however, to stop the train, which went thundering on to the gap, tearing the mules literally to pieces, and throwing the engine fifty yards from the track into an open corn field. The entire train followed, and was made a most complete wreck.

It was some time before any idea of the loss of life could be ascertained. For quite a while the front brakeman, Charles Cameron, was the only injured man found. He was cut on the head and badly injured on the thigh and hip joint. He lives on Fourteenth street, between Magazine and Chestnut, and was brought to this city and taken to St. Mary's and Elizabeth's Hospital. In the course of the search for those wounded, the engineer, George Minott, who lives in this city on Twelfth street, near Delaware, was found crushed in a shapeless mass under his engine. He was lying on his face with the back part of his skull crushed, his legs and arms were broken and the entire body was mangled. No other persons were injured. Minott leaves a wife and five children, on of whom is a babe. He had arranged to go to the Exposition last night with his wife and children, but instead his mangled body, cold in death, wasa brought to his widow and fatherless children.

The engine was completely demolished and the cars were total wrecks. The corn, cotton and pine were scattered all over the place. The track was torn up for a great distance. On the train, riding between the two front cars, close to the engine, was a negro tramp bearing the historic name of Henry Clay Miller. When the accident occurred he was thrown with the cars down the slight embankment, and was hidden from sight beneath the freight and broken cars, but did not receive a single scratch. There was also a white tramp stealing a ride on the train, but he also escaped safe from the wreck. The most miraculous escape of all was that of the fireman. It seems that he went over with the engine, and was in the worst of the wreck, but came out without the slightest bruise.

When questioned as to how he escaped he said he did not know how it was done.

"What did you do when the engine turned over?"

"I went with it, but how I got out, or how it is I am still living, I can not tell."

"What did Minott say when the engine struck the mules?"

"He said 'My God, John,' and that was all."

It is safe to say that the loss by this accident will be about $20,000.

Mr. McClintock, the road-master, got on the engine at Bardstown Junction, with the intention of coming into the city, but, looking at his watch, said the next train would get there first, and he would wait to get his dinner, which he did. He thus avoided an accident which would in all probability have caused his death.

The trains coming both ways were all delayed, ad the track was not cleared until about 8 o'clock last night. The remains of George Minott were turned over to W. W. Wyatt, the undertaker. No one who escaped from the wreck could give any satisfactory account of the accident. The whole thing occurred in so short a time that the parties had no time to think, but were hurled from the track with the train in a twinkling of an eye. Dr. George W. Griffiths, the railroad's surgeon, was telegraphed for, and went immediately to the wreck in a special car. He dressed Cameron's injuries, and ordered him to St. Mary's and Elizabeth's Hospital. Dr. Griffiths does not regard Cameron's injuries as necessarily fatal, but thinks they are very serious. The negro tramp was brought to the city on the special car, and turned loose on the town.

The Courier-Journal of 17 Apr 1883 reported that George Minott's widow, Catherine Elizabeth Minott was suing the railroad. The brief notice is shown below.

"K. E. Minott, widow of administratrix of George Minott, yesterday sued the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company for $50,000 damages sustained by the death of her husband. Plaintiff states that George Minott, while acting as engineer on defendant's road, was running a train from Shepherdsville to Louisville, when he ran the train into a mule in a cow gap, the accident resulting in his death."

Catherine Elizabeth Minott was born 14 Feb 1850 in Ireland. She died 30 Dec 1945 in Jefferson County. She never re-married following George's death.

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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 12 Sep 2020 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/train_mules1882.html