Tag Archive for: BNSF railroad

NEMiss.News Sherman MS train crash site



Robert Max Sheffield, age 14, a student at New Albany High School, was one of three people killed when their vehicle was struck by a Burlington Northern/Santa Fe (BNSF) train.

NEMiss.News NAHS student Max Sheffield killed in crash

Max Sheffield


The collision between the train and a mini-van occurred at 5:41 p.m., Monday, December 19, in Sherman in Pontotoc County.

Also killed were Robert “Ted” Sheffield, age 51, and Sharon Sheffield, 52. A fourth passenger in the vehicle, seven-year-old Eliszabeth Sheffield, was critically injured and was flown by helicopter to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. She was reported in “stable” condition Tuesday afternoon.

The Sheffield vehicle was trying to cross the BNSF tracks on Third Avenue in Sherman when it was struck by the Memphis-bound train.

The railroad crossing is protected by flashing lights and alarm bells but does not have a “cross bar” that lowers to prevent motorists from crossing the railroad right-of-way.

Witnesses reported that there have been other fatal accidents at the same rail crossing.

Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!



Buffalo supermarket shooter pleads guilty to terrorism, murder charges. White House working to avert railroad strike. China: Rare antigovernment protests over lockdown policies





Buffalo supermarket shooter pleads guilty to terrorism, murder charges

Payton Gendron, the 19-year-old gunmen who carried out a mass shooting in May at a Topps supermarket in Buffalo, NY, has pleaded guilty to all state charges against him. There 15 total charges, including murder, attempted murder, and domestic terrorism motivated by hate. The last charge comes with a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Gendron still faces dozens of federal charges, some of which carry the possibility of a death sentence.

Gendron killed 10 Black people at the supermarket and has admitted that he was motivated by racism. In fact, several days before the incident, Gendron drove 200 miles from his home in Conklin, NY, to a majority-Black neighborhood in Buffalo to identify a location where he would be likely to kill as many Black people as possible. During the pandemic, Gendron became indoctrinated online into a white supremacist ideology known as “white replacement”.

In light of many deadly mass shootings this year, including several just in the past two weeks, President Biden is once again calling on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban during the December lame-duck session. However, to pass such a measure, Senate Democrats would need to find 10 Republicans to vote with them, which is unlikely. 

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


White House working to avert railroad strike ahead of holidays

President Biden said last week that his administration is working with railroad companies and unions to avoid a possible railroad strike. Federal officials helped to broker an agreement in September which at least delayed strike talks until after the midterms. Since then, three of the 12 major railroad workers unions have voted to reject terms of that deal.

The unions could call a strike as soon as Dec. 9. If they do, the US freight rail system will grind to a halt, stopping deliveries of food, gas and other vital goods. Congress has the power to force an end to the strike by imposing the terms of the contract proposed in September. Biden is hoping to broker a more favorable deal that the unions will accept to avoid a strike.

Although the proposal came with a hefty wage hike over the next 5 years, workers have pointed out the raises barely keep up with inflation. Also, the deal included no paid sick days and did not address workers’ grievances over unpredictable work schedules. Click here for a 3-minute video where railroad workers explain their reasons for rejecting the deal.

Record profits despite supply chain problems

Workers are especially angry with the stinginess of the proposed contracts since the industry has reported record profits during the pandemic. The companies have increased their profits in part by laying off workers, increasing the burden on those that remain. Instead of reinvesting in the company or hiring more workers, the companies have used those profits for stock buybacks to increase pay packages of their executives.

In February, billionaire Warren Buffett, owner of Berkshire Hathaway (parent company of major railroad company BNSF), told shareholders that BNSF had earned record profits in 2021. Buffett, noted for his philanthropy, also recently donated $750 million dollars to charities run by his family. 

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



China: Rare antigovernment protests over lockdown policies

Cities all over China erupted in massive antigovernment protests over the weekend due to China’s Zero COVID policy. Premier Xi Jinping’s pandemic policy has caused huge cities of millions of people to go into strict lockdowns when even a few COVID cases are detected. People are forbidden from leaving their homes for days or even weeks. The lockdowns can come with no warning, leaving residents no time to gather adequate food and medicine. Lockdowns in major cities have also had a major economic impact.

Despite the draconian lockdowns, COVID numbers are still rising. Today, China broke its record for daily cases with 40,347 new cases. Rather than rethinking the policy, the government has responded with lockdowns in more cities with even more restrictive measures.

The protests were sparked by an incident in the western province of Xinjiang last week. Ten people died in an apartment fire because the entrances were locked to keep residents from going outside. The demonstrations have been growing and spreading across the country. Police have been out in force engaging in violent clashes with peaceful protesters. Demonstrators are now openly calling for Xi to resign. 

Chinese media has not acknowledged the protests and censors have been eliminating any mention of them on Chinese social media sites like WeChat and Weibo. Nevertheless, the ranks of the protesters are growing with each passing day.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

NEmiss.News Vehicle hit by train while bypassing safety barrier.


A passenger car, which tried to drive around a safety “boom gate” at the Highland Avenue crossing, was struck by a train early yesterday afternoon, July 12.

The Burlington Northern/Santa Fe (BNSF) train, which was travelling at a relatively low speed, knocked the automobile on the tracks into the second vehicle, which was waiting in line.

NEMiss.News Vehicle hit by auto struck and pushed by train

The BNSF train knocked the white Toyota into this smaller sedan, injuring the driver.

There was significant damage to both cars and injuries to persons in at least one of the vehicles.

New Albany firemen had to free a person trapped in the second car. That person had injuries, the seriousness of which are not known.

New Albany Police Chief Chris Robertson said the woman driving the white Toyota sedan tried to drive around the boom gates. She was ticketed for disregarding the safety devices.

Witnesses to the accident said the safety devices protecting the crossing, consisting of flashing red lights and boom gates (sometimes called  “boom barriers”) were functioning properly when the incident occurred.

The engineer was able to stop the train a short distance beyond the collision point.

By 5 pm in the evening, July 12, BNSF crews had repaired and replaced the damaged safety equipment.

During 2021, 893 people nationwide died in rail crossing accidents. That was a 20% increase over 2020.

Across the United States, about 60% of accidents involving trains and motor vehicles occur at crossings protected by flashing red lights and boom gates, such as the one at Highland Avenue in New Albany.

NEMiss.News BNSF tracks under Hwy 15

New Albany public safety officials were dispatched, Sunday May 8th, to a railroad overpass from which a man was threatening to jump onto the railroad tracks.

The man was on the Highway 15 overpass across the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad tracks just south of Calvary United Methodist Church.

New Albany Policy Department (NAPD) Chief Chris Robertson told NEMiss.News that New Albany police officers and an ambulance crew from Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County went to the scene where a distraught man was prepared to jump onto the tracks about 25 feet below.

They were able to persuade the man to come off of his perch over the tracks. An NAPD officer accompanied the ambulance crew to Baptist Hospital where the man could be calmed down and possibly be directed to appropriate psychiatric treatment.

NEMiss.News BNSF overpass at Snyder St. 4-14-22


Work to replace the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad overpass at Snyder St. in New Albany made dramatic progress Thursday, April 14, 2022.

BNSF construction crews closed Snyder St. to traffic and started the work more than two months ago. Parts of the bridge being replaced were said to be more than a century old.

More than 20 trains a day normally run on the tracks through New Albany. Thus, construction crews had to work around the schedules of the freight trains.

Construction crews worked for several weeks replacing elements of the bridge while the trains rumbled by.

NE:Miss.News New overpass being constructed

New overpass tracks under construction

There was some grumbling by motorists for whom the work seemed agonizingly slow. Those accustomed to using Snyder Street to cross the railroad right-of-way had to use other routes.

On Thursday, however, several million dollars-worth of BNSF equipment and a few dozen workers were busy at the site.

All of the decking and tracks had been removed by mid-day, and no trains rolled through New Albany.

NEMiss.News BNSF workers using man-powered tools

“Man-powered” tools at work on Snyder St.

Men worked fabricating sections of rail with 10-pound sledgehammers. Several pre-fabricated sections of reinforced concrete were hauled into place by a big crane that ran on the tracks east of bridge. In one of the photos with this story the crane can be seen trundling a multiple-ton concrete fabrication called a “headwall” toward its place in the bridge structure.

When the sun went down about 7:30 p.m. the work continued with powerful lights.

Before midnight Thursday, Mr. Buffet’s freight trains could again be heard thundering through New Albany.

There is still work to be done to complete the Snyder Street overpass. None of those working Thursday would give us a guess as to when it would be completely finished.

NEMiss.News BNSF crane does heavy lifting

BNSF crane does heavy lifting

It is safe to say it will be sooner than it was early in February.

BNSF is one of the largest freight railroads in America. It operates on 32,500 miles of track in 28 U.S. states. It employs 35,000 people.

The railroad is wholly owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. of Omaha, Nebraska. The legendary Warren Buffet, now 91 years old, is the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.

The vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway is Charlie Munger, who celebrated his 98th birthday New Year’s Day.

All the folks we saw working yesterday were somewhat younger.

The president and CEO of BNSF is Kathryn M. “Katie” Farmer, the railroad’s first ever female president. She is a mere child, just 52 years old.

NEMiss.News BNSF night shift work

BNSF crews working night shift at Snyder St.
Photo: Joe Wilson







Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!


NEMiss.News Trail Life Honor Guard at City Board

An honor guard of the New Albany Trail Life youth group opened the Monday, March 1, meeting of the New Albany Board of Aldermen,

Clay Hardy, the Trail Life chapter leader, introduced the group, which marched to the front of the meeting chamber with the flags of the United States and the State of Mississippi. They then led the aldermen and others at the meeting in recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Trail Life is sponsored by New Albany First Baptist Church. The church had sponsored a Boy Scouts of America troop for many years, but switched to the Trail Life organization. Hardy said the change was made because church members disagreed with the “the way Boy Scouts of America was going.”

Many Boy Scouts of America (BSA) troops have switched to the Trail Life organization, which was “founded in 2013 in response to changes in the membership policy of the BSA to allow the participation of openly gay leadership.” (You may follow the link at the end of this article learn more about the history of Trail Life and the controversy that launched it.)

Ward 4 Alderman Will Tucker presided at the meeting in the absence of Mayor Tim Kent, who is recovering from knee surgery done about a month ago.

New Albany Lights, Gas, and Water (NALGW) Manager Bill Mattox asked the board to approve a resolution calling on the state legislature to pass a bill to let NALGW provide high speed Internet service to its customers. He asked the board to approve a payment of $38,000 to Roberts Construction for work it has done to convert the old Fred’s building to space for the New Albany Police Department and NALGW.

Maddox also asked the board for authority  to enter into negotiations with Night Hawk AMI of Dallas, Texas to provide AMI service for city utilities. AMI is an integrated system of smart meters, communications networks, and data management systems that enables two-way communication between utilities and customers. All of Mattox’s recommendations were unanimously approved by the board.

City Code Enforcement Officer Eric Thomas told the aldermen that the zoning board had approved a sign ordinance variance for Med Plus on Park Plaza Drive and a conditional permit to Ivan Giddings for occupancy of a house at 1310 South Central Avenue.

The work Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) is doing on its overpass over Snyder Street was on the board’s “update agenda.” However, the board had no sound information about when that project would be completed and Snyder Street again open to traffic. Some BNSF workmen have responded to inquiries by saying it would be “up to two months” before the work is finished.

The board went into an executive session closed to the public at the end of the public meeting.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the New Albany Board of Aldermen will be at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 4 at city hall.

Info on Trail Life:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_Life_USA


NEMiss.News BNSF working at Snyder St. Underpass



Work continues on the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe (BNSF) underpass in downtown New Albany.

Fair weather after Thursday’s rains allowed the BNSF construction crew to make significant progress on the project.

This photo, shot by our friend Joe Wilson Friday, shows some excavation work underway at the site just north of Bankhead Street on Snyder Street.

NEMiss.News Snyder St. railroad underpass



While using an acetylene torch to cut through a steel I-beam, a railroad construction worker accidentally set fire to a creosote timber this afternoon, February 14, 2022.

NEMiss.News Oxyacetylene torch at Snyder St.

The oxyacetylene torch unit that set off the fire. Oxyacetylene burns at temperatures above 6,000 degrees F.

Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) is re-placing old wooden pylons and beams at the Snyder St. railroad underpass in New Albany with steel. The foot-wide I-beams have been driven into the earth by a big impact hammer mounted on a crane. Shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, February 14, a workman was cutting one of the I-beams with an acetylene torch, which started a fire in one of the decades-old timbers.

BNSF workmen nearly succeeded in putting out the fire with a fire extinguisher, but “ran out of water.” Fortunately, a unit of the New Albany Fire Department (NAFD) arrived within a minute or so of receiving the 911call and finished putting out the still smoldering fire.

There were no reported injuries to construction workers or firemen.

NAFD Fire Chief Mark Whiteside said the quick work by BNSF personnel and quick follow-up by the fire department avoided what could have been major damage to the underpass and even to nearby buildings.

NEMiss.News New I-Beams at Snyder St. railroad bridge

Close up of new I-beam support pylons at the underpass.

Ordinary railroad ties and many other railroad structures are made of pine or fir, which has been infused under pressure with creosote. Creosote is used to prevent insect and other damage to the wood. It is a highly flammable material distilled from coal tar and plant sources. It can burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt steel.

Work on the old overpass bridge is expected to continue for two weeks or more. There was no indication that the small fire Monday would delay finishing the work.

More about the bridge project: https://newalbanyunionco.com/work-finally-underway-to-rebuild-the-snyder-street-railroad-bridge/

Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

NEMiss.News BNSF workers at work on Snyder St. bridge


Many have observed that Snyder Street under the railroad bridge is closed to traffic.

NEMiss.News Snyder St. overpass under repair

Snyder St. under railroad underpass closed to traffic

Burlington Northern/Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad is doing extensive work to replace structural elements on the bridge. Very large steel beams, appearing to be at least 50 feet long, have been driven into the earth on both sides of the bridge. The sound of a huge impact hammer, mounted on a crane boom several stories high, has echoed through the central part of New Albany.

NEMiss.News below the Snyder St. overpass

Splintered beams below the Snyder St. overpass

Friday, Feb 11, we observed that operation. The rig pounded the 50 feet of steel into the ground in about four hours, an impressive sight. Fabled “John Henry, the steel-driving man,” would have been put to shame by that modern outfit.

Shown with this story are several photos of the work and a brief video including sound showing the impact hammer at work.

NEMiss.News impact hammer driving beam

Only a four hour job for this beam with the correct tools.

Many of the old wooden beams of the structure have been badly splintered for a good while. Some have been been apprehensive or even avoided using the underpass, over which thousands of tons of loaded freight cars pass  every day. The need for work on the underpass has been an item on the agenda of the New Albany Board of Aldermen for at least two years.

NEMiss.News has not been able to get a reliable answer as to how long the work will take and Snyder St. remained closed. Estimates range from two to five weeks.

Some motorists, who use the underpass to avoid being stopped by trains as they go across the railroad right of way, have understandably grumbled a little about Snyder Street being closed.

Video of Snyder St. Bridge work: https://youtu.be/1gZEtCwUarY

Fire at Snyder St. bridge project quickly extinguished.

NEMiss.News Heritage Days classroom exhibit


Pioneer Craft and Folk Life Days & Festival is set for November 4, 5, & 6 at the Union County Heritage Museum.  The three day event will offer opportunities for all ages to experience the unique culture of North Mississippi including heritage crafts, music and hands-on fun in the Heart of the Hills, New Albany, Mississippi.

The event is free.

NEMiss.News Heritage Days Artisan, Jeanette Stone

Artist Jeanette Stone spins her tale of days gone by.

Heritage crafts people, including artists in weaving and quilting, blacksmithing, basket making, corn shuck doll artistry and much more, will demonstrate and exhibit crafts.  Thursday is set aside for the special needs adults and children from 9 till noon.  On Friday school children will experience rural life activities of the past including milking cows, making butter, building cabins, cross cut sawing, picking cotton, gardening, doctoring with herbs and much more.

If your group would like to attend, please call the museum and set up a time on the schedule.  Groups need to register for a time due to the need to keep from having too large a crowd at one time.

Saturday is family day with games and contests including corn shelling, stick horse races, sack races, egg and spoon race, storytelling. Live music will be a special feature throughout the day.

The new exhibit in the BNSF caboose will be opened. Singer and musician, Britt Gulley, is a featured performer.  He portrays the “singing brakeman,’ the late Jimmy Rogers, who is considered the father of country music; many of his original songs tell the story of the railroad.  Other performers will be heard throughout the day on Saturday.  Saturday’s events are from 9 til 2:30.  The games will begin at 10.

Visitors can enjoy the pioneer village, the garden and the Crossing on the Green Rail Park, as well as all of the exhibits and heritage craftspeople throughout the event.  The country story, the one-room school, the doctor’s office will be peopled with characters from the past.

The event is supported by a grant from Visit Mississippi.

Anyone wishing to volunteer for the event is asked to call 662-5378-0014.

Jill Smith, Director

Union County Heritage Museum

114 Cleveland Street

New Albany, MS 38652


New Albany MS train struck truck

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train struck a trailer truck at the Highland St. railroad crossing in New Albany shortly after 9:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 10th.

The engineer of the westbound BNSF train said the truck was stalled — “stuck there when we came around the turn from the east.”

New Albany MS truck struck signal apparatus

Before the train arrived, the truck had already struck the train signal apparatus and stopped in crossing.

Apparently the driver of the Werner Enterprises truck had already struck the railroad crossing apparatus while trying to make a near 130 degree turn from Highland onto North Central Avenue.

The engineer was able to stop the lead engine about 1,500 feet west of the collision point, immediately behind Windham TV & Appliance store.

New Albany MS engine of train stopped

The engineer brought the BNSF engine to a stop about 1500 feet west of the collision.

There were no injuries. Besides the damage to the railroad crossing mechanism, there damage was to the truck’s trailer and contents.

New Albany MS Werner truck moving away

The Werner trailer, its trailer doors missing, being escorted up North Central Avenue toward Bankhead St.

Emergency crews had mostly cleared the wreckage before midnight.