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Old Posted Mar 30, 2010, 5:23 AM
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Norfolk Southern Coal Train Derailment at Waterloo, Indiana

Norfolk Southern Coal Train Wreck
Waterloo, Indiana, March 26, 2010

Photographed March 29, 2010


All Photos Copyright © 2010 by Robert E Pence

On Friday, March 26, 2010, thirty-eight cars of a 126-car Norfolk Southern coal train bound for a power plant in Michigan derailed in Waterloo, Indiana. A local newscast said that the derailment had taken out the Amtrak station and all the cars parked there. I thought the station wouldn't be much loss; it's an asphalt platform with a doorless bus shelter and lights overhead on tall wooden poles.

I didn't want to venture up there in bad weather and then get yelled at by cleanup crews as I slogged around in the mud with a camera. Today (Monday March 29) turned out sunny and bright, so in late afternoon I headed for Waterloo. I discovered the Amtrak facility untouched, reaffirming my opinion that most local TV news personalities don't know anything about railroads. In my experience, they don't know much about anything.


When I saw the mountain of debris stretching eastward from Center Street, I immediately feared that the historic wood depot, moved and restored years ago, had been crushed and buried under tons of coal-gondola remnants.














The earth was torn up with deep ruts from bulldozers, and segments of ties and rails and fragments of ripped-apart aluminum coal gondolas had been pushed up into a mound of mangled metal and wood.








I felt great relief when I saw the historic depot still standing at the far end of the debris field.










How close do you want it? Parts weighing a couple of tons can travel for considerable distances when a train wrecks at speed. The boarded-up windows aren't a consequence of the wreck; Rehab work on the building is ongoing, and it looks like they may be installing insulation and preparing for new siding. On the back side, the bay has been covered with tyvek.


Business has resumed; both tracks are in place, but both eastbound and westbound trains are alternating on the westbound track.






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Last edited by Robert Pence; Mar 30, 2010 at 12:59 PM.
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2010, 6:42 PM
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What was the cause of the derailment?
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2010, 7:13 PM
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Wow, talk about a mess. Kind of amazing that the train station, historic barn, and all the trees miraculously avoided all that.
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2010, 7:53 PM
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amazing. thanks for posting
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2010, 10:19 PM
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Interesting thread! There is something venerable and haunting about train wreckage -- almost like an elephant graveyard. Thanks for sharing these excellent photos.
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2010, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
What was the cause of the derailment?
No official announcement has been made, but it's leaning toward a worn flange picking a switch point; there are crossovers exactly where the derailment occurred.

A local eyewitness quoted by news media said "a wheel came loose," which could mean a broken axle, but I'm waiting to hear something more definitive. If an axle broke, they'll find it during the cleanup. The eyewitness may be someone with no comprehension of trains or railroads, and most of our area media people wouldn't know the difference between a coal hopper and a pedicab.
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