Freight train tumbles into Potomac after derailment on bridge in Harpers Ferry

A CSX freight train crossing the Winchester and Potomac Railroad bridge near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, derailed Saturday morning, sending empty cars into the Potomac River. The derailment site can be seen from downtown Harpers Ferry. CSX confirmed in an email message to WTOP that the derailment happened about about 2:30 a.m., no one was hurt and no hazardous materials were on board.

#Breaking Video: CSX FREIGHT TRAIN DERAILMENT in #HarpersFerry on the Winchester & Potomac Railroad Bridge @ 3:30AM, NO injuries, locomotive remained on track.

Recovery crews are working to secure dangling train cars #BreakingNews @nbcwashington @TomLynch_ pic.twitter.com/fhflDZNb9f -- Brad Freitas (@Chopper4Brad) December 21, 2019

Due to the bridge's unique location, police and fire departments from West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and the National Park Service responded to the incident. The train was heading east, carrying cargo across the Potomac between Harpers Ferry and Washington County in Maryland.

The locomotive itself did not derail, but seven empty cargo cars did. Two wound up in the river. In its message, the freight rail operator noted: "CSX will work swiftly and safely in the cleanup and to restore the area." The cause of the derailment is being investigated while crews work to move the toppled cars.

The National Park Service in Harpers Ferry reports that the walking path across the Potomac, which is part of the bridge, will be closed indefinitely due to the damage, as well as access to an outlook in the park known as The Point. John Brown's Fort is also closed due to safety concerns.

Drone photo of today's freight train derailment in Harper's Ferry. Photo credit: Tim Drone. pic.twitter.com/3MgPm2Kelk

-- Neal Augenstein (@AugensteinWTOP) December 21, 2019

That path across the river, known as the Goodloe Bryan Memorial Footbridge is part of the well-known, and well-walked Appalachian Trail, so hikers seeking transport across the river will have to request a shuttle until the bridge is repaired.

WTOP's news partner NBC Washington first reported on the derailment.

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