A true story of a train tragedy in San Antonio (2023)

A True Story of a San Antonio Railroad Tragedy



Have you heard the legend of the San Antonio railroad tracks?

If you're from San Antonio or its suburbs, you've probably heard about the track history of the San Antonio Railroad. The story goes that in the 1930s, a school bus full of children was tragically hit by an oncoming train. And legend has it today that if you neutralize your car at the scene of an accident, your car will be slowly pushed down the tracks (by the ghosts of dead children) to safety. You can also sprinkle baby powder or baby powder on the back of the car and some say you can see the tiny footprints of children's hands.
Sadly, this story is just a San Antonio legend. This train wreck never happened in San Antonio, it happened in Salt Lake City, Utah. Below is a newspaper clipping:

“On December 1, 1938, a school bus was heading north toward Jordan High School during a severe winter storm while a freight train loaded from Denver and Rio Grande was heading north toward Salt Lake City, according to reports. posted on the city's website.
The driver stopped the bus near the level crossing at 10200 South and 400 West. He opened the door to look through the thick fog, but did not see the "Flying Ute" train approaching with over 80 cars traveling at over 50 miles per hour.
At 8:43 am, the bus slowly passed along the tracks. Upon seeing the bus, the train crew immediately slammed on the brakes, but the collision was inevitable.
The collision claimed the lives of 23 children and the bus driver. The 15 survivors faced lifelong physical injuries and emotional scars.
After the horrific accident came the level crossing laws, mechanical level crossing arms and national regulations that are still in effect today - including requiring bus drivers to not only stop at level crossings, but also open the doors and driver's side windows to see and hear oncoming trains. According to the city's website."

How did a story like this from across the country make its way into the history of San Antonio?Some say this is because news of the school bus tragedy made headlines in San Antonio newspapers and has slowly turned into one of our city's legends over the years. Or maybe a thrill seeker or two made up the story and it ended up gaining traction.
Whatever the reason, the Haunted Railroad Tracks are just a legend and never happened in San Antonio.

A true railway tragedy

On March 28, 1920, a train accident occurred outside of San Antonio, in a small town called New Braunfels. It was Easter Sunday and the Smiths were on a spring drive in their Model T. They left their home in New Braunfels to visit family in Seguin. As they crossed the train tracks, they were hit by a train traveling at full speed. The carriage rolled on and on as the train dragged and tore it to a stop. A mother, her daughters and a toddler were killed instantly, but the son-in-law driving the car survived another day before finally succumbing to his injuries. Below is a newspaper clipping from the San Antonio Express News:

“Train erases group of 6 drivers
Mother, her three daughters, a son-in-law and a granddaughter died when Flier crashed into Hit's car. Car hit right in the middle. Dead: Mrs. K. W. Smith, 54, 330 Mission Street; Mrs. William Alex Garrett, 30, 330 Mission Street; Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Krueger, both 28 years old, 405 Bull Street; Katherine Adele Krueger, her 3-year-old daughter, Miss Mary Smith, 24 years old. Fatally injured William Alex Garrett, 31 years old.

All corpses are lowered into the graves at the same time. The little Krueger girl will be buried in the same grave with her mother."

A true story of a train tragedy in San Antonio (3)

Daughter and son buried together after their car was hit by a train.

This event happened 96 years ago today. So the next time someone asks you about the tracks on the Haunted Railroad, tell them the true story of the Smith family and their tragedy.

Sisters Grimm ghost tours visit this site and many others on their haunted ghost bus tour


04/11/2017 07:23:05

I was nervous going there but it turned out cute because the kids don't want us to end up like them 😇😇


yellow valley

04/11/2017 09:41:10

Claudia, didn't you read the article? This never happened. Or at least not anywhere near San Antonio.



05/07/2020 20:25:34

I'm on the tracks here today, but when I took the car outside, there were handprints on the car and the car started to move slowly.


joe garcia

24/03/2022 20:34:27

They leave handprints and the car turns along the tracks if it never happened there then something happened because it applies to the marks


21/11/2020 07:54:37

I was at the racetrack with my uncle today. I was really excited that our car could stop. Instead, my uncle had to start it, and then it started to move. I have a feeling he moved it himself.


bomb detective

05.10.2022 15:36:45

They don't leave handprints and the car doesn't drive, lmfao. Went there, did that, big surprise.

Joseph R. Tarango

01/02/2018 04:26:14

I was taken to this railroad crossing in San Antonio in 1981. The driver put the car in neutral, engaged an automatic transmission, and slammed on the brakes. What we never understood was when the car was moving like it was being pushed. When the driver released the brakes, the car jerked a little too fast and slowly rolled over the railroad tracks. Whatever it was, I'm pretty sure it wasn't gravity propelling the car forward. If they were spirits of children or adults, may they rest in peace.


Levi Sorensen

12/09/2018 11:13:55

Did you read the article? It's optical illusions, I live in SLC and people used a level, it went down.



29/08/2019 10:26:10

Not everything you hear is true, so what leads you to believe that what the article says is true. You live in SLC, I live in San Antonio, TX


29/08/2019 10:46:45

In the 1920s, there was a school bus accident that happened before the SLC accident. Make your discoveries, people go to the library and do research

Kimberly Carrshortcut

28/05/2020 21:24:44

I just heard this today, my husband works for an airline and the guy who flies with him did exactly that a few months ago so it's true... pray for the spirits...



13/02/2018 14:39:05

I think kids or adults are cool with pushing us across the tracks so we don't end up like them, but we shouldn't always make them push us along the tracks, you should just try it once and next time just drive over the railroad tracks



06/04/2018 02:16:09

You obviously haven't looked it up. There are no articles or reports about this tragedy in San Antonio, but it happened in Utah. Obviously you have not read the above article correctly.



10/06/2018 20:30:20

I think they're talking about the footprints of the kids that supposedly pushed you off the rails.

Giovanna Rodriguez

20/07/2018 09:24:50

It doesn't matter that something or someone pushes you in the end

Jessica Perdue

16/05/2018 16:45:06

As of today, May 16, 2018, I found myself on track. I work with the railroad directing traffic while the U.P. fixes the tracks so that no one hits the work vehicles and vice versa. Today was my first time on the legendary circuits and I didn't have the opportunity to experience the illusion of ghosts taking me to safety; I was the one who protected people!



29/10/2018 09:42:50

Obviously you didn't read the whole article. Since the bus accident didn't happen in San Antonio, it was a family that got hit by a train and everyone else. It happened in New Braunfels.


joe garcia

24/03/2022 20:38:22

I myself am from San Antonio, Texas and if anyone who has never been to San Antonio is in doubt, drive past the tracks and see for yourself, put your vehicle in neutral and it will go the other side Pushed from the tracks. ... Don't believe everything you read in newspaper clippings....until you hear it from the locals who live there


22/04/2022 13h03min57s

it's true send a picture

roger's bonfire

02/03/2019 06:37:13

Now there was a dead 15-year-old girl who was taken there by her mother and younger sister. Her mother murdered her and took her to the "alleged" haunted area. So if you get a weird "feeling", maybe it's the 15 year old girl.
Not the kids, 🤔



16/04/2019 00:47:18

Leave these poor children who are tired of pushing.


27/12/2020 12:05:10

Ya leave her alone!!
You're tired!


Susanne Mahula

19/07/2019 18:31:41

There's another train wreck in San Antonio that didn't address where the legend may have come from. On April 22, 1934, my mother, Ruth Clark, and her sister, Susie Clark, were picked up in the Church truck to go to Sunday School. Also in the truck were the 3 Book children along with the driver. As it stopped at the intersection in front of Probant, the cowboy from the oncoming train caught the van and stunned it under the train. The results were frightening to say the least. 4 children died that Sunday morning. My mother's sister, Susie Clark and all 3 children from the books. My mother survived, as did the driver. Mom is now 99. She doesn't like to talk about it anymore. It haunted her all her life. We've heard the story our whole lives, and in the back of my mind, I've always wondered about the legend of the haunted trail. Facts and circumstances change over time, but sometimes there's a basis somewhere.



08/23/2021 14h38

I agree. See my review below...



27/10/2019 15h02min53s

I was on track and I don't remember it happening right away. We sat on the tracks for a good 5 minutes, the car idling and our foot off the brake, before starting to move forward. It's not a smooth transition across the track either, it's elevated so the rear tires have to roll over a bump to complete the crossing. We wash the back of the car well before we leave. When we arrived, we covered the back of the car with baby powder. Not just where there are small handprints, but also small footprints on the bumper.


25/12/2019 06:58:15

The story is true, I name the people who exposed it full of shit


19/03/2020 12h58min23s

I am truly sorry for these children who lost their lives in this tragic event. I really want to try this myself.


27/12/2020 12h06min34s

I felt really bad too!!


To rub

27/11/2020 22:54:27

I read the article that says the accident didn't happen here in San Antonio, but these lanes are haunted by some ghosts. I did all the baby powder and it worked. That's so sad whoever it is but everyone has to tear them apart. You have to find your way home.


27/12/2020 12:09:07

Let them RIP find the wet house there (NOT chring to copy)


27/12/2020 12:10:40

i felt really bad for her


08/04/2021 15:12:44

Ghosts are real let me see


Stephanie Mulligan

26/05/2021 15:10:07




08/23/2021 13h53min23s

Well, as a JOURNALIST, I can assure you that MANY, MANY articles are/were false, were printed in conjecture at best, and it's a field that thrives on the credo: "If it bleeds, it leads!" Therefore, in no case deny the bank that this happened in SA. When in doubt, SEARCH LIBRARY SA for more information - I did this years ago and found evidence at the time! I've personally investigated as well, and this area of ​​SA is an intriguing place - including the existence of ghost dogs and a mysterious black train passing through an area otherwise thought to be unused. Our cars responded in the same way as those being pushed along the tracks, and interestingly, the (newer) residential area has streets said to be named after the victims of the bus crash. Much of this area actually showed ongoing evidence of haunting - not just the location of the RR tracks. There are AT LEAST 3 areas with confirmed sightings and more.



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Has a train ever crashed into another train? ›

The Hinton train collision was a rail transport accident that occurred in Canada on 8 February 1986. Twenty-three people were killed in a collision between a Canadian National Railway freight train and a Via Rail passenger train called the Super Continental, including the engine crews of both trains.

What is the oldest train crash? ›

1830. September 15 – United Kingdom – William Huskisson becomes the first widely reported passenger train death. During the ceremonial opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, while standing on the track at Parkside he is struck and fatally injured by the locomotive Rocket.

What state has the most train accidents? ›

There were 273 crossing fatalities and 763 crossing injuries in 2022 across the U.S. Approximately 85% of all 2022 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred in these states.
UPDATED 3/1/23.
24 more columns

Did trains derail in 1800s? ›

Train wrecks were shockingly common in the last half of the 1800s. Train travel was quite safe in the first half century of the 1800s. Trains didn't go very fast and there weren't many miles of track laid down. But around 1853, the number of train wrecks and people killed on trains suddenly rose sharply.

What is the deadliest train in America? ›

The Brightline, pictured here at the West Palm Beach station, is known as the deadliest train in the United States, averaging one death for every 37,000 miles traveled. Being the deadliest does not mean Brightline has the highest body count.

Why did the train stop at the first? ›

The train stopped the first time when a herd of buffaloes began to cross the railway track. Was this answer helpful?

What was the worst train disaster? ›

The Quintinshill rail disaster was a multi-train rail crash which occurred on 22 May 1915 outside the Quintinshill signal box near Gretna Green in Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
Quintinshill rail disaster
CauseSignalling error
11 more rows

What was the worst train wreck in history? ›

The Great Train Wreck of 1918 occurred on July 9, 1918, in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Two passenger trains, operated by the Nashville, Chattanooga and St.
Great Train Wreck of 1918
11 more rows

What are the worst train disasters in history? ›

Queen of The Sea, Sri Lanka

The Queen of The Sea train crash in Sri Lanka, caused by the Indian Ocean Tsunami which struck in December 2004, is regarded as the worst train disaster in railroad history after it caused the death of over 1,700 people.

Where is safest to sit on a train? ›

"The safest spot in a train, during an accident, is the center of the train," said Mann, who was the principal author of the Federal Railway Safety Act in 1970. "Because if there is a front-end collision or a rear-end collision, the damages will be greater at those locations.

Where is the safest part of a train to sit? ›

Sit in the center-most train car

When choosing a seat on a train, try to get one in the center-most car, or one of the central cars. This will put you as far as possible from the most common points of issue for collisions or derailment, namely the front and end of the train.

Is Amtrak safer than driving? ›

Trains are statistically much safer than driving.

Did train toilets empty onto tracks? ›

The traditional method of disposing human waste from trains is to deposit the waste onto the tracks or, more often, onto nearby ground using what is known as a hopper toilet. This ranges from a hole in the floor to a full-flush system (possibly with sterilization).

When did trains get toilets? ›

Since passenger service began on July 4, 1828, sewage systems in trains have evolved from chamber pots to electrically operated flushing toilets.

Did old trains have toilets? ›

Yes, they sure did. Early toilets ranged from a Hooper Toilet, which was a hole in the floor (drop chute), to primitive flushing systems. The waste was dropped to the track bed. For sanitary reasons, when the train was in the station, the toilets were locked.

What is the most famous train ever? ›

As the world's most celebrated train, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express carries passengers across Europe in the style of a bygone era. The memory of the glamorous carriages, sumptuous cuisine, and personal service will stay with you forever.

What caused the deadliest accident in Amtrak history? ›

An Amtrak train headed to Miami derails near Mobile, Alabama, killing 47 people on September 22, 1993. The accident, the deadliest in Amtrak's history, was caused by a negligent towboat operator and foggy conditions.

Why do trains stop and go backwards on tracks? ›

“Depending on the length of the train, as well as the length and number of tracks at a rail yard or customer facility, the train may have to move back and forth as it shoves cars into one track, backs out, and then moves forward to drop off or pick up cars on an adjacent track.”

When a train stops suddenly passengers in the running? ›

Inertia of rest stops the train and takes the body forward.

Why is there an engine at the end of a train? ›

As wireless technologies advanced in the 1960s, freight railroads began adding extra locomotives to the rear of trains to give them enough power to climb steep hills. This is how distributed power was born.

How common are train deaths? ›

Train Accident Statistics

Trains are estimated to kill 1 person every 100 minutes. Each year nearly 1,000 people are killed in train related accidents.

How many train deaths are there a year? ›

The ratio of railroad-related deaths to nonfatal injuries and illnesses is about 1:6. In 2021, of the total 893 deaths, 26% occurred at rail-crossings. Of the 3,216 nonfatal occupational railroad injuries and illnesses reported in 2021, 66 were attributed to highway-rail crossing incidents.

What is the most deadliest train in the world? ›

Here is a list of the ten most dangerous train routes around the world:
  • Outeniqua Choo- Tjoe Train.
  • Aso Minami Route.
  • The Death Railway.
  • Chennai Rameshwaram Route.
  • Tren A Las Nubes.
  • Pilatus Railway.
  • Maeklong.
  • Landwasser Viaduct.
Oct 7, 2022

Which is the biggest accident in the world? ›

Nuclear and radiation

Mayak nuclear waste storage tank explosion. 270,000 people were exposed to dangerous radiation levels.

What are most railroad fatalities caused by? ›

94% of all rail-related fatalities and injuries occur at railroad crossings or due to trespassing. Sadly, almost all of these deaths and injuries are preventable. Trespassing along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America.

Is it safer to face forward or backward on a train? ›

Safety experts recommend rear-facing seats because passengers will be pushed into their seats instead of thrown forward, resulting in less injuries.

Are you safer on a train or a plane? ›

1. They are safer. There's some debate over whether planes or trains are safer, and it all depends on how you measure it. If it's deaths per billion miles flown, then planes win, but planes fly a very long way.

Is it better to sit backwards or forwards on a train? ›

Be strategic about where you sit.

The optimal seat to prevent motion sickness is a seat in the middle of one of the first train cars. Be sure to choose a forward-facing seat, and if you're riding a double-decker train, stay on the bottom level.

Where do train drivers go to the toilet? ›

The Conductor and the Engineer are both in the cab of the lead locomotive on an over the road freight train. The conductor is free to get up at any time to use the restroom. The engineer is the person at the controls who is actually operating the locomotive.

Is sitting backwards on a train safer? ›

Safety experts also recommend choosing a rear-facing seat, because a person sitting there is less likely to be thrown forward during a collision. Trains are more likely to hit something side-on than head-on or from behind, according to the FRA.

What's the safest car on a train? ›

But if you are still concerned about safety -- or if you're just curious about which part of the train is the safest place to sit in the event of a derailment or crash -- science has an answer for that too. On a passenger train, your safest bet just may be to sit in the middle cars, or one car behind the middle.

Is it rude to talk on Amtrak? ›

Our advice, don't be a loud talker. By all means chat it up (not if you're in the quiet car… obvi), just do so quietly. All the space on Amtrak trains is a bit intoxicating in all the best ways.

Can you shower on Amtrak? ›

Each room includes a big picture window, fresh towels and linens, and an in-room sink, restroom, and shower.

Can you walk around on Amtrak? ›

Room to Roam

Enjoy the spirit of a road trip without the hassles. Instead of being confined to a cramped, uncomfortable seat for your entire trip, a train lets you get up to stretch your legs and walk around to other parts of the train. That's not even an option when you fly, ride a bus or drive a car.

How do they get a derailed train back on track? ›

With simple wagon derailments where the final position is close to the proper track location, it is usually possible to pull the derailed wheelsets back on to the track using rerailing ramps; these are metal blocks designed to fit over the rails and to provide a rising path back to the track.

Why can't you flush train toilets at stations? ›

Because where a Hopper toilet is installed, the waste is disposed of straight onto the tracks. An East Midlands Trains spokesperson said: "Our HST's still have the old fashioned toilets which do drop stuff onto the track via a mixture with some disinfectant - hence the sign saying not to flush in the station."

How often are train toilets cleaned? ›

Turnaround cleans are undertaken once a day when a train reaches its terminus, including deeper toilet cleans and rubbish collection. Heavy cleans are carried out regularly, with the whole fleet deep cleaned every eight weeks.

Do trains have cameras in toilets? ›

He went on to clarify that while some stations do have some CCTV within the “toilet area,” which might involve the entrance ways and perhaps the sinks, that there are no cameras near any toilets – especially not on the trains themselves.

How did people go to the bathroom on trains? ›

Historically, commuter train lavatories would use toilets that drain straight onto the track, through a chute at the bottom of the toilet. This was known as a 'hopper toilet'. They ranged from a hole in the floor to a drop chute toilet and are still used in many parts of the world today, especially on older trains.

How did people go to the bathroom on trains in the 1800's? ›

Early toilets ranged from a Hooper Toilet, which was a hole in the floor (drop chute), to primitive flushing systems. The waste was dropped to the track bed. For sanitary reasons, when the train was in the station, the toilets were locked. Railroads throughout the world still dispose of waste that way.

Where does pee go on a train? ›

Most trains don't have sewage tanks so anything in the toilet is dumped straight onto the tracks.

Where does toilet waste go on a plane? ›

On a long-haul 747 flight, travelers might flush the toilets around 1,000 times, creating roughly 230 gallons of sewage—that's a lot of waste! When the aircraft lands, a “honey truck” siphons out the waste and disposes of it into the airport's underground sewage system.

How many miles per gallon does a locomotive get? ›

Today's train locomotives are already quite fuel efficient, especially compared to trucks. In fact, trains can haul one ton of goods an average of more than 480 miles on just a single gallon of fuel, making them 3-4 times more fuel efficient than trucks.

When was the last Amtrak crash? ›

June 26, 2022: Three people in a car were killed when an Amtrak commuter train smashed into their vehicle in Northern California.

How do trains not crash into each other? ›

Trains cannot collide with each other if they are not permitted to occupy the same section of track at the same time, so railway lines are divided into sections known as blocks. In normal circumstances, only one train is permitted in each block at a time. This principle forms the basis of most railway safety systems.

What was the deadliest train crash? ›

The Maurienne Derailment – Between 800 & 1,000 Deaths

The single worst railway disaster in history, the Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne incident took place the same year as the previous disaster on this list.

Is it still possible to hop trains? ›

It continued to be widely used by those unable to afford other transportation, especially during times of widespread economic dislocation such as the Great Depression. For a variety of reasons the practice is less common in the 21st century, although a community of freight-train riders still exists.

Who were the Amtrak victims identified? ›

Authorities identified the passengers as Rachelle Cook, 57, and Kim Holsapple, 56, both of De Soto, Kansas, and Bihn Phan, 82, of Kansas City, Missouri.

Is it safer to fly or take a train? ›

The accidents may raise questions about the safety of train travel. While flying on an airplane is the safest mode of long-distance travel, according to the International Air Transport Association, trains are your best option on the ground.

Why do trains honk when they pass each other? ›

The horn's primary purpose is to alert persons and animals to an oncoming train, especially when approaching a level crossing.

Why do trains honk when passing each other? ›

Why do trains sound their horn? Federal law requires the train crew when approaching a road crossing to sound the horn at all public crossings for the protection and safety of motorists and pedestrians regardless of whether crossings with gates and lights are present.

How do train drivers know where to go? ›

The railways use a train detection systems which can tell signallers exactly where every train is and how fast they are going. There are also systems that can automatically stop trains if the driver doesn't take the correct course of action or passes through a red signal.

What is the most famous train crash? ›

The Great Train Wreck of 1918 occurred on July 9, 1918, in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Two passenger trains, operated by the Nashville, Chattanooga and St.
Great Train Wreck of 1918
CountryUnited States
OperatorNashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway
Incident typeCollision
CauseHuman error
9 more rows

What are the chances of dying in a train crash? ›

However, this is not true since modern trains have more rail safety features built to safeguard the passengers. Although fatalities are not as common, serious injuries in train crashes happen abundantly. According to Statista, you have a one in 243,756 chance of dying in a train crash as a passenger.

Who robbed the first train? ›

On October 6, 1866, the brothers John and Simeon Reno stage the first train robbery in American history, making off with $13,000 from an Ohio and Mississippi railroad train in Jackson County, Indiana.

Are there still hobos that ride trains? ›

Many hobos from this era have since “caught the westbound,” or died. A small number of so-called hobos still hop freight trains today. Unlike hobos of yesteryear, these modern freight train hoppers would not ride the rails to seek employment, but for the thrill of the journey.

What are train hobos called? ›

In 1920, 2,166 trespassers were killed. But railroad police couldn't avoid the hobo problem. Called "bo chasers" and "car-seal hawks," they adopted extremely aggressive tactics. They took it as their job to terrorize those who rode the rails, often by any means necessary.

What is a real life hobo code? ›

Popularized in the late 1800s and early 1900s, hobo code supposedly consisted of distinctive symbols to communicate vital information. They alerted other transient workers to trouble, such as an aggressive dog or hostile police force, but could also point the way to clean water or a hot meal.


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