been the location of some spectacular train
wrecks in the old days of railroading. One of
them had a side incident which enters the realm of the supernatural.
Mohler's Curve lay a mile below Alderson, and
the stretch of
track was a treacherous one. The date was
October 4, 1881. The time
was 1 o'clock in the morning. Through the
darkness roared Engine 112,
pulling a heavy freight train. Coming from the
opposite direction thundered Engine 110, also dragging a train of
Somehow, the night signal operator in the tower
failed to hold the west bound train until the
eastbound had passed. The
two behemoths pounded toward each other on a
single track. When they
met head on in a terrifying roar of escaping
steam and crashing steel,
it had happened too fast for the crew of Engine
110 to jump. The engineer and fireman both died.
The impact smashed both locomotives to
of twisted metal, piled cars 50 feet high, and
spread destruction over
several hundred yards of the railroad
right-of-way. A brakeman was
found alive under a mound of 500 crossties. Some
trainmen were hurled
50 feet through the air by the impact, yet
miraculously survived. Several were killed outright, however.
Now for the supernatural happening, often
related by J. H.
Hoover of Alderson, head brakeman on the
eastbound freight pulled by
Engine 112. He was sitting on top of a car some
distance back in the
bright moonlight. He looked across the
bottomland toward the river, and
suddenly, out where there were no tracks, but
where such a thing could
not be, there stood a phantom locomotive with
headlight burning, and on
the engine side the numerals "110".
Brakeman Hoover made his way to the front of his
train and told
the engineer and fireman what he had seen. He
said he believed the vision to have been a warning.
A few moments later he saw the gleam of
approaching headlights as Engine 112 went into Mohler's Curve.
Then he jumped and
rolled down the embankment, an instant before
the two trains crashed
together. A short time after, he was able to
climb back up to the tracks
and view the wreck. He was certain of the number
he would see on the
westbound engine, and he was right. The number
was 110. "Then and
there," said Brakeman Hoover, "I quit