Women and men surrounding the railroad wreckage beneath a trestle bridge
Credit: Howard Gregory
Original Author: Unknown
Created: September 1903
Medium: Photograph

Women and Men Surveying the Wreck of the Old 97

Well-dressed women and men cluster around the wreckage of a deadly train accident that occurred on September 27, 1903, when the Southern Railway freight train called the Fast Mail (or “Old 97”) sped off the tracks of a trestle bridge outside Danville, killing eleven people, When it crashed, the Old 97 was en route from Monroe, Virginia, to Spencer, North Carolina. The train was behind schedule and engineer Joseph A. "Steve" Broadey reportedly increased the locomotive's speed well above the norm. As the train descended the curved tracks approaching the Stillhouse Trestle, Broadey was unable to reduce speed, and the locomotive and all four cars went off the tracks and hit the rocky bottom of the shallow creek below. Newspapers across the country ran stories of the wreck, and crowds flocked to the scene.