On this day: the Wreck of the Old 97

On the 27th of September, 1903 the Old 97, a Southern Railway train, derailed at Stillhouse Trestle near Danville, Virginia.

Eleven were killed – nine immediately – and seven injured.

The crash inspired a ballad that would become famous in the United States, and would later become the focus of a copyright case.

The crash occurred because the train’s operator was running at high speed in order to stay on schedule. The train derailed and fell into a ravine. Some of the survivors attributed their luck to jumping from the vehicle before its plunge down the slope.

This photograph is believed to have been taken a few days after the disaster, as the train has been set back upright.

Wreck of the Old 97

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