Waverly survivor recalls horrific day

Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Clint Edmonson was working as a 'car man' for L&N Railroad at the time of the explosion that killed 16 people and injured 43 in February 1978.

When Clint Edmonson of Chapel Hill was 34 years old, he was in his 11th year of working for the L&N out of Nashville.

He was a "car man" who worked to maintain and repair freight cars, as well as to assist when there was a wreck. It was hard, dirty work and until you built up seniority you got night and weekend shifts, but back then it was considered one of the better jobs to have.

Late in the evening of Feb. 22, 1978, Edmonson's crew was nearly through working a wreck in Gallatin when they got word that there had been a derailment in Waverly. They set off for the scene in their own little train: an engine pulling the 500-ton railway wrecker, plus the dining car, kitchen and bunkhouse for the men. At daylight on the 23rd, they could see what they were dealing with: a westbound L&N train had derailed near the center of the Humphreys County seat. Among the 23 cars that came off the tracks were two 30,000-gallon tanker cars filled with liquid propane gas

Edmonson and the group spent the day removing debris from the tracks and by 8 p.m. the way was clear and open to limited traffic.

See Wednesday's Tribune for the complete story.