Spirits of the Camp Creek Disaster—Georgia

Once, McDonough, Georgia was a quiet hamlet. It has now been enveloped by Atlanta’s sprawl and is not so quiet any longer. About thirty miles from downtown Atlanta, McDonough was the scene of the infamous Camp Creek Railroad disaster which is sometimes noted as “Georgia’s Titanic.”

Camp Creek shortly after the train crash, 1900. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Rain had been falling for most of the month of June 1900 and it was beginning to affect the railroads. On the evening of June 23rd, Old Number 7, carrying 48 souls, was bound for Atlanta, but waited at the station in McDonough for another train to arrive from Columbus. When word reached the station that that train was stalled by a washed out bridge, the Old Number 7 was told to book it towards Atlanta. Before pulling out, the train’s engineer remarked, “We’ll either be having breakfast in Atlanta or in Hell.”

Henry County Courthouse and the McDonough Square. It was here that the bodies of the victims were laid out. Photo 2007, by John Trainor, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Red Ball Freight sped ahead of the Old Number 7 and cleared the trestle over Camp Creek, a creek that’s usually mild-mannered, though it was swollen this night. The engineer of the No. 7 never could have seen the portion of the trestle that was now missing, having just been washed away and the train plunged into the raging waters of the creek. While some of those aboard died in the initial impact, some drowned and others died in the ensuing fire. Of the 48 souls aboard, only 9 survived. Rescuers pulled the bodies from the wreckage and were laid out in the McDonough town square until they could be taken to one of the two funeral homes, B. B. Carmichael’s or A. F. Bunn & Company. The nine survivors were put up in The Globe Hotel on the square.

As the citizens of McDonough recovered, the spirits from this horrendous disaster have remained. Spirit activity has been reported on the McDONOUGH SQUARE, possibly related to the bodies laid out there. The DUNN HOUSE/GLOBE HOTEL(20 Jonesboro Street), where the survivors recovered was moved just off the square, and now houses businesses. A weeping woman has been seen and heard in the building; someone possibly related to this accident. The building that once housed B. B. Carmichael’s Funeral Home, which handled many of the bodies, is now THE SEASONS BISTRO (41 Griffin Street). While it is regularly home to diners, there are also spirits in this building. A pair of diners in the restaurant saw a man preparing the body of a female in the area that now serves as the women’s restroom. When one of the diners described the man, the restaurant’s owner was shocked to realize that the man was B. B. Carmichael.

Sources

  • Beck, Carolyn F. “McDonough.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 20 June 2013.
  • Walker, Caprice and Dan Brooks. Haunted Memories of McDonough, Georgia. McDonough, GA: Bell, Book and Candle Used Book Store, 2006.
  • Wells, Jeffrey C. In Atlanta or in Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.
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6 Replies to “Spirits of the Camp Creek Disaster—Georgia”

  1. the Globe hotel was my mother’s family’s home for almost 150 years.I and my coursing in fact are the first generation to not have been born and died in that home. The crying woman is my great great grandmother Fannie Dunn, she lost several brothers in the war and was the only girl. It was a extremely hard time for her,.. The city took the hluse after my great brother died the same days as Elvis
    in July 1979, my great grandfather Cephus Bell was the manager of the local bank and the city allowed the taxes to back up about 20 Years. With the intention of taking it, my mo. and her sisters just couldn’t pull the $ together to save the house. A fact that really bothered my mom, But she was in her early 20s at the time and working as a florist in Atlanta. I have heard so many ghost t
    story’s about the home. My mother said that the ghost tho were mostly family, she nor anyone in my family ever related and ghost activity to the train disaster. The globe hotel (post war name) is a part of me. 4 generation of my fore mother’s put ever ounce of blood sweat and tears in to that house, my grandmother was born there. Also we are or should I say were related B.B. Carmichael and I remember Cam Carmichael and we drove down there often. It was town house/ offices then we eat snow cones on the porch and always talked to grama Fannie. thanks for the memory

  2. Hello, we just moved to Peeksville Road. My birthday is June 23rd. I’ve been hearing people and seeing things in my house. Just this morning I kept hearing someone walking very load but nobody but myself was awake. I’m wondering if we are close enough to the crash that there would be such activity at my house. I’m a firm believer in numbers and coincidences. How weird that my birthday is the same day and I’ve been having these experiences. I’m wondering if we are on old war grounds or something. The energy is so strong here.

    1. Hi there, I looked up the proximity of Peeksville Road and the crash site. It doesn’t appear that these two points are close enough that you would be sensing activity relating to the crash. As for the Civil War, I know that there was fighting in Henry County during the Atlanta Campaign, so that could be a possibility. You may want to do some research on the history of the property to find out what factors could contribute to the activity.

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