November 9, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

The Wreck of the Old 97 (Disaster)

The Wreck of the Old 97 (Disaster)

Larry G. Aaron

Language: English

Pages: 160

ISBN: 1596298766

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


With Fast Mail train No. 97 an hour behind schedule, locomotive engineer Steve Broady, according to legend, swore to put her in Spencer on time" or "put her in Hell." Through eyewitness reports and court testimonies, historian Larry Aaron expertly pieces together the events of September 27, 1903, at Danville, Virginia, when the Old 97 plummeted off a forty-five-foot trestle into the ravine below. With more twists and turns than the railroad tracks on which the Old 97 ran, this book chronicles the story of one of the most famous train wrecks in American history, as well as the controversy surrounding "The Wreck of the Old 97," that most famous ballad, which secured the Old 97 a place within the annals of American folklore."

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was hurt in the chest. When he finished he went unconscious and died. They worked until 9:00 p.m. that night, also helping pick up the mail. Giles reiterated that he had always been a timid man, but that Sunday afternoon made a distinct impression that lasted his whole life. “As long as I lived I hoped I’d never see anything else like it.” Accompanied by his brothers on the hill a short distance from the trestle, six-year-old Ruel Bullington saw the wreck, recalling his experience for the

alone. Howard Gregory wrote that “both firemen [Buddy Clapp and John Hodge] were thrown out of the left side of the engine, scalded and mangled beyond recognition, dying instantly.” Wiley recalled in a Danville Bee article in September 1976 that Broady collapsed in Stillhouse Creek. “I helped pick the engineer up,” he said. The skin [and hair] came off his arm just like a chicken that’s scalded. Somebody came from the houses above, and two or three men helped me pick up the engineer and put him

recharge the brake line with air quickly, even with more cars than Broady’s locomotive pulled. Thus, regardless of how Broady ran the train, losing his airbrakes would not have been the problem. Terry Feichtenbiner challenges that notion, stressing that air reservoirs have specific recharging times, since only a certain amount of air can be pumped through the brake line at one time. Having a highly efficient steam pump doesn’t make that happen any quicker. Feichtenbiner also adds: In the worst

Virginia, a mile or so from White Oak Mountain. The present track continues on toward Danville and enters the railroad station from a bridge downstream of the original bridge that crossed the Dan River on September 27, 1903. Aerial view of the trestle area in March 2010, with a line superimposed over the image to show the path of track through the curve of the trestle and an “X” to show the location where engine 1102 landed. Photo courtesy of Hutch Hutcheson of Virginia MultiMedia. A lot of

deejays from around the nation were invited. Johnny Cash was there and explained to Luther why he changed the phrase “black greasy fireman” in his first recording of the song to “big greasy fireman.” It was in the late ’60s, during the time of the civil rights movement, and Cash told Luther he did not want to upset anyone with the words. The fact that different versions of the song appeared early in folk tradition is partly responsible for a legal battle that led to the ballad becoming the first

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