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By Larry G. Aaron

With speedy Mail teach No. ninety seven an hour not on time, locomotive engineer Steve Broady, based on legend, swore to place her in Spencer on time" or "put her in Hell." via eyewitness experiences and courtroom stories, historian Larry Aaron expertly items jointly the occasions of September 27, 1903, at Danville, Virginia, whilst the previous ninety seven plummeted off a forty-five-foot trestle into the ravine lower than. With extra twists and turns than the railroad tracks on which the outdated ninety seven ran, this publication chronicles the tale of 1 of the main well-known teach wrecks in American heritage, in addition to the talk surrounding "The break of the outdated 97," that the majority well-known ballad, which secured the outdated ninety seven a spot in the annals of yankee folklore."

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Between his tasks have been speaking with yardmasters and telegraph operators concerning orders influencing the scheduled run, making sure that principles and methods have been continuously and signaling the engineer whilst to begin and prevent the teach. This photograph of conductor John Thomas Blair initially seemed within the Danville check in. Blair was once buried in Danville at eco-friendly Hill Cemetery. Flagman James Robert Moody (February four, 1873–September 27, 1903). He changed general group member Walter Averett Aaron at the day of the destroy. picture courtesy of Howard Gregory. On educate ninety seven, the flagman used to be James Robert Moody, age thirty, from Raleigh, North Carolina. He used to be born on February 24, 1873, to Albert H. Moody and Bettie Pleasants. In February 1898, Moody married Hattie Loretta Williams. The couple had 3 ladies: Kittie Blair Moody, who died an analogous 12 months she was once born; Edna Van Moody; and Lois Irene Moody, born in April 1903, simply 5 months prior to the ruin of teach ninety seven. ahead of Moody labored for Southern, he had moved from task to activity. He have been a protect on the country legal, then labored on the submit workplace after which labored for the Seaboard Air Line Railway. As flagman, Moody used to be basically chargeable for maintaining the rear of the teach in case it was once stalled or another way needed to cease at the tune. utilizing lanterns, flags or small explosive units (called torpedoes, which the wheels of one other teach may detonate to warn the team of approaching danger), the flagman signaled different trains coming his approach while his used to be stopped. Moody used to be a replacement flagman that day on outdated ninety seven simply because one among my ancestors, Walter Averett Aaron of Spencer, have been reassigned. Aaron left on educate 37, which departed Monroe prior to previous ninety seven that Sunday. one other railroader who was once speculated to be on previous ninety seven was once D. Frank Ingram. He did not convey, and the teach left with out him. in keeping with Fred Ingram, proprietor of Crossroads eating place in Gretna, Virginia, and grandson of Frank Ingram, his grandfather used to be approximately 20 years outdated and dwelling at a boardinghouse in Lynchburg while he was once specified to commute to Monroe to board outdated ninety seven. Fred Ingram instructed me, “My grandmother Mary, who by no means ever lied approximately whatever whatever, acknowledged my grandfather had had an excessive amount of to drink and that’s why he ignored the educate. ” Had Ingram been sober, he may have died with Broady and the others. Clarence Goodloe used to be a mail clerk who used to be no longer assigned to the educate yet had deliberate to be at the educate whilst it left Washington, D. C. , that day. His grandson, Edwin B. Lawless III, shared the next with me: In 1903, he was once a railway mail clerk, and his ordinary run was once from Washington to Chicago escorting gold, which was once being shipped to the Philippines on the time. After a number of runs, he might have numerous days off, and he could shuttle to Danville to determine my grandmother, Sally Burton, to whom he was once engaged for approximately eighteen years. As a railway mail clerk, Granddad was once allowed to journey any teach that carried mail, so on his days off he could take ninety seven from Washington to Danville.

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