Fourteen miles west of Wilmington, North Carolina lies the small railroad station of Maco.
One rainy night in the spring of 1867, the conductor, Joe Baldwin, of a train was tidying up the rear coach as it approached the homestretch into Wilmington. Holding his lantern in front of his body, he prepared to step forward into the next car when he realized there was no car ahead! Somehow his coach had come uncoupled from the rest of the train and was quickly losing speed.
Knowing another train was following close behind, he raced back through the car, pulled open the heavy door and began to swing his lantern back and forth, back and forth, as the huge, fiery eye of the approaching train grew larger and larger. The heavy fog and dark night thwarted his signaling attempts, and with a terrific impact, the two trains collided. In the collision, the conductor's head was severed from his body.