Danville, VA "Wreck of the Old 97" Train Wreck, Sept 1903

Wreck of the Old 97

All the dead men were killed instantly, it is thought, and all were greatly mutilated. The skin and hair on the engineer and fireman were torn off by the impact of the steam from the engine.
Several thousand people were soon at the scene of the wreck and removed the bodies from the debris. No one on any of the cars made an effort to jump and the bodies of all those killed were found in the wreckage of the different cars to which they belonged.
Ladies who drove out to the wreck from Danville fainted at the sight of the bodies, some of which were crushed to a ghastly degree.

Six Crates Canaries Came Out Untouched
It seemed miraculous that any one should have escaped, for each car falling with the engine bounded from it and completely collapsed after striking the rocks at the foot of the trestle.
All the express in the express car was practically destroyed, except six crates full of canary birds. None of the birds were hurt though the crates were in the thickest of the debris.
All unofficial opinions that have been ascertained agree in giving only one cause for the wreck - the high speed of the train on the sharp curve. No. 97 was running about an hour behind time; it is thought that the engineer being unfamiliar with the road, did not take into consideration the danger of coming on the curve with such great velocity.
The mail bags in all the mail cars were torn open and the letters and packages were scattered, but it is believed none is lost. Fire which appeared in the wreckage shortly after it occurred was quickly extinguished by the Danville fire department.

Third Bad Accident To The Mail Flyer
In loss of life this is one of the most serious wrecks that has occurred on the Southern, and it is the third time that the fast mail has been almost entirely demolished.
Within the last twelve months the same train ran into a large rock on the track near Lexington, N. C., the engine ruined, cars gutted and several lives were lost.
A few months ago the fast mail struck a freight train head on near this city and was again almost demolished.
On account of the wreck all traffic on the Central and Northern divisions of the Southern will be affected. It will take several days to repair the damage to the trestle. The Southern is arranging to run its southbound trains over the Norfolk and Western from Lynchburg via Burksville to Danville, new trains being made up at that place.
The wreck seriously interfered with the telegraph service in the south. The Western Union Telegraph Company had a large number of wires along the track and these were carried down. Men and material were dispatched from Richmond to restore them.

Children Were Playing Beneath Fated Trestle
The one car that remained intact broke through the trestle at the final plunge, making a gaping hole and delaying traffic on the road. The wires north of the city are all down.
No. 97 is the fastest train on the road and was coming into the city at a rate of between 50 and 60 miles an hour.
There were many eye-witnesses to the tragedy. The tracks at this point is lined with houses on either side and _______ on and children in many instances.

The Atlanta Constitution Georgia 1903-09-28