Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Cowcatcher

Due to his hometown of Cayce, Kentucky, train engineer John Luther Jones was known to his fellow conductors by the slightly-misspelled nickname of Casey. He was known, thanks to the popular ballad which bears his name, for his death in 1900, when he famously stayed at the brake while his train collided with another, immobile train on the tracks ahead. Less known is an incident from about five years earlier, when Casey noticed a group of children playing on the tracks ahead of his moving train. He yelled at them to move, but one little girl was paralyzed with fear at the sight of the oncoming locomotive and remained on the tracks. Jones instructed his engineer to brake, but upon realizing that the train wouldn't stop in time, he climbed out onto the cowcatcher and held on with one hand. Leaning ahead of the train, Casey Jones swept the little girl off the tracks with his free hand, just as she was about to get struck. The girl was terrified, but unharmed.

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