Cowcatcher kills engine driver

George Kembery (also called Kimbery by the newspapers) was an off-duty engine driver who fell asleep on the railway tracks at the Bogantungan Railway station.

Image Sharyn Moodie 2022

This obviously wasn’t a clever place to sleep, especially at 3am on a Sunday morning when the goods train from Emerald was due.

The first anyone knew of his presence was when the driver, shunting into the station, heard a shriek. Kembery had been caught by the train’s cowcatcher.

Although he was able to crawl out himself, his injuries were serious enough that he was taken by special train to Springsure hospital (165k by road today but probably shorter by train in those days).

“Mortification set in” and he died several days later. Newpapers described his injured thus “He  had the flesh literally torn from his bones…the wounds at present contain so much cinder and other matter.

Morning Bulletin
Springsure hospital circa 1875. Image State Library of Queensland.

Kembery left a wife and children.

Bogantungan Railway Station today. Image Chris Ison.

In 1960 Bogantungan became the site of Queensland’s worst train disaster when the Midlander passenger service crossed the flooded Medway Creek. Water had weakened the pylons and the train came crashing down, killing seven and injuring 43. The accident happened at 2.30am, eerily close to the time Kembery was killed.

Kembery’s sinking headstone is found at the Springsure cemetery.

Sources: Morning Bulletin, Tuesday 29 April, 1890, p6

The Queenslander, Saturday 3 May 1890, p821

Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs General Advertiser, Tuesday 29 April 1890
The Capricornian, Saturday 3 May 1890 – Page 15

Medway Creek Rail Disaster, viewed at on July 30, 2022.

Springsure, QLD

Published by Sharyn Moodie

Travelling around Australia for work, I've found so many amazing headstones. But what is more amazing is the stories behind some of these deaths, and the way newspapers of the day reported them.

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