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.”
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.”
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.
- 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.