“It sounded like a bomb went off” – Train derails in Linden, Virginia

By Dan McDermott

LINDEN, VA (May 29, 2020)—A train derailed shortly before 9 am today near John Marshall Highway and I-66 exit 13.

According to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the train consisted of five locomotives and 12 cars, mostly empty.

There were no injuries reported, according the the Sheriff’s office, and there were no hazardous materials involved and no fire or explosion.

There was noise.

“It sounded like an earthquake. The ground shook. I was bringing in water from Costco,” said one neighbor. Another described it as sounding like a bomb. “There was smoke everywhere and the sound of brakes and metal.”

The cause is undetermined at this time and the incident is under investigation by the Virginia State Police and Norfolk Southern Railroad.

Traffic on the main roads in the area was flowing freely and several people stopped to walk around the beautifully landscaped area to get photos as word spread on social media. 

A helicopter circled overhead. “Do you think that’s channel 4 or 5?” one young man asked. “Maybe it’s the feds?”

There are ten residences in the area and the sheriff’s office says they notified all of them through the reverse 911 system and RAVE alerts. The nearby roads were Pickrell Drive, Keyser Wood Lane, Winona Drive, and Red Barn Lane.

All roadways are expected to be open again between 8 pm and 10 pm tonight.

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  1. Great photos and info. However 12R as it is known on NS had more cars than mentioned but they were pulled away by locomotives after the derailment. It is normally a big train ‘moving’ extra locomotives from one point to another some days, which is why it had 5 diesels this day. 14 cars derailed of probably about 90. Glad no one was hurt. NS prides itself in superb track maintenance. Note one of the last photos the track appears to possibly have been ‘washed out’ in those 2 days of storms we had that week. Thanks! JPW

    • That’s interesting! I was surprised how spread out the whole thing was. I agree these seem to be rare. It was great that no one got killed this day but I’ve often imagined the horrible PTSD the engineers must go through after a fatal incident, even when they are completely not at fault. They can’t just slam on the brakes. – dan

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