The Wreck of the Old 97

It was a still September morning in 1903, punctuated only by the occasional ringing of church bells and the chatter among citizens of Danville as they strolled home from their Sunday worship services. Like normal, the Southern Railway train, known as the Fast Mail, was heading into Danville from Monroe, Virginia, en route to Spencer, North Carolina. Only, on this particular Sunday, it was running faster than usual. Much faster than usual. As it reached the Stillhouse Trestle near Danvilles Highway 58, it sailed off the tracks, plummeting down an incline and collapsing into a dusty, metal-clanging heap as people from all across town rushed in to help dig for survivors. The Wreck of the Old 97 story was quickly made famous by a top-selling country tune. Today, local historian Lawrence McFall details the events that led up to one of the most famous train wrecks in history.
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