July 9

This Day in History

Disaster

Jul 9, 1918:

Trains collide outside Nashville

Two trains collide outside Nashville, Tennessee, killing 101 people, on this day in 1918. Despite the high death toll, the story was mainly ignored by the national press.

It was just after 7 a.m. when the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis line's Train No. 1 arrived at the Shops station. It was carrying a large contingent of workers heading for their jobs at the munitions plant in Harding, Tennessee, the next stop on the line. The train's engineer was supposed to wait for an express train to pass through the Shops station in the opposite direction before heading to Harding.

Instead, the engineer headed out after a freight train passed by, a terrible mistake. Train No. 1 had reached about 50 miles per hour when the express train appeared before it suddenly, traveling even faster. There was no time to brake. Both trains engines exploded on impact. The first two cars on each train were thrown forward and collapsed on each other. Everything and everyone in these cars were destroyed.

In addition to the 101 people killed, another 100 people were seriously injured. Despite the magnitude of the disaster, many newspapers across the country did not even cover the story, most likely because the vast majority of the casualties were African Americans.

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