From the college boy who leaped from a car before it reached the station to the local man who passed out on the tracks, Wake Forest once was known for a surprisingly high rate of railroad accidents. But none was more memorable than the December 16, 1928 crash of Seaboard’s Fast Flyer.
The southbound passenger train plowed into the side of the local drug store on South White Street (known today as the Powers-Barbee Building) and we have images of the aftermath.
The story appeared in newspapers across the United States.
Wake Forest, Dec. 17–One man was killed and the rear of a local drug store was demolished Sunday in a spectacular wreck of the southbound Florida Limited, fast New York to Florida train of the Seaboard Air Line.
The 12 car steel train was running through this little village town at about 25 miles an hour in a thick fog shortly before 8 o’clock, when at a grade crossing near the railway station it struck a light coupe driven by Charlie Lynam, of Wake Forest, killing him instantly. The engine jumped the rails and plowed into the rear of the three-story brick building occupied by the drug store, 100 yards away.
When the huge locomotive struck the building the walls crumpled and the forepart of the train was buried in the debris. Engineer J.Y. Bryan and his fireman escaped without injury but W.E. Burchett, a baggage man, suffered a sprained ankle in leaping from the train. No one was in the drug store building at the time.
No passengers were hurt, although two day coaches and the baggage car were derailed.
Lynam, employee of a local cotton mill and the father of nine children, was instantly killed. His automobile was tossed 50 yards from the crossing–a total wreck.
Traffic over the railway line was halted for the remainder of the day but officials said they expected to have the tracks cleared by night. The engine remained buried in the brick and mortar of the building and it was believed that its removal will require several days.
Thousands of spectators motored to Wake Forest to see the wreck throughout the day, the roads leading into town were almost choked with the streams of automobiles. Near the scene, traffic was at times unable to move.
Passengers on the train were transferred to another train after a delay of several hours and sent on to their destinations.