Yes you wouldn't think it's possible for a train ON LAND to hit a boat on the WATER but Texas is one of the few states that can say "yes it's possible and it happened HERE". One might think that's impossible to do but there is ONE way for a train to destroy a boat and it happened in Brownsville, Texas back in 1980.

Let's meet the boat that's the center point of this story, the Arctic Star

Originally built in England, the HMS Royal Scotsman was built in 1936 as a passenger ship that was used in to transport people & goods between Scotland & Ireland. During World War II, the ship would be used in combat before being withdrawn from service in 1947.

The Royal Scotsman would see new life when it bought by L. Ron Hubbard. Yes...THAT L. Ron Hubbard. It would be renamed the MV Apollo and would be bought by the Church of Scientology.


The boat would be bought AGAIN by the Zanzibar Shipping Company in 1978. It would change its name to the Arctic Star & while awaiting on...what to do with the ship, the Arctic Star would, for now, be stationed in Brownsville, Texas.

On September 16, 1980, the Arctic Star ship would be hit by a freight train while in Brownsville

A Missouri Pacific Railroad locomotive #2199 was loading freight cars on a siding at the pier where the ship was stationed. 18 loaded box cars were being moved around on the pier but 7 of them decided to have a mind of their own. They broke away, sped down the pier, jumped the barricade and SLAMMED right into the side of the Arctic Star.

Thankfully no one was hurt in the accident but the Arctic Star suffered significant damage & was unfit for usage on the sea. The story made news headlines & a costly court case was filed shortly afterwards to determine who would pay for the damages.


The ship was scrapped in 1984 and the train locomotive is still in use by Union Pacific today.

There's much more to the story and History in the Dark did a great job of including more detail in a YouTube video.

Of course this isn't the only story relating to ships & trains; there was the barge that slammed into the Pelican Island Causeway in Galveston earlier this year. (Heck there was even ANOTHER incident of a train hitting a boat on the Mississippi River in 2022).

The moral of the story is keep your eyes open around train. You never know when a rouge freight car wants to take a little joy ride...

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