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At least four men died as a result of the collapse – the locomotive’s fireman, who staggered out of the tunnel but died a short time later; Mason, the engineer, whose body was removed from the tunnel after a lengthy rescue effort; and two railroad laborers whose bodies were never recovered.
However, there has always been a suspicion that more — perhaps many more — were entombed in the tunnel. Griggs doubts there are more than 100, as some have claimed over the years, but he finds it “certainly plausible” more than two are buried there.
“Because if you were an African-American from Georgia … and you came here for a job, your family never expected to see you again,” he said. “You could have walked in the tunnel and the tunnel collapsed … and nobody would have missed you.”