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Monday, July 9, 2012

94th Anniversary of the Great Train Wreck of 1918

Dutchman's Curve

Dutchman's curve is the location of the deadliest train wreck in U.S. history, and it happened in Nashville. Human error on the NCStL line mistakenly thinking the tracks were clear allowed a train to proceed with another coming in. The two train engineers couldn't see each other as they approached around a curve and crashed into each other at full speed. At the time, it wasn't uncommon for passenger cars to be made of wood, and on impact the cars essentially disintegrated. All told, on the day of July 9, 1918, over 100 people died.

The exact spot the two trains collided is a little difficult to determine, but the wreckage covered a lengthy area. Today, the area is commemorated in a sublte way. As one of the Nashville Greenways, the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation added a Wayside along the Richland Creek Greenway at a location near where the wreckage had been.

The original railroad bed has been replaced with newer tracks that are built higher up. The small memorial is at a spot between bridge masonry abutments along the old line. These predate the Civil War and were built by the nearly forgotten Nashville and Northwestern Railroad. The tracks here used to cross Bosley Road, which is also long gone. A train wheel and a connector is embedded into the concrete here. A metal bar and some other miscellaneuos unsecured pieces were here the day I was. I suppose someone found them and just laid them there.

A few feet from the old Bosley Road Underpass is where the tracks cross Richland Creek. The modern bridge is about 15 feet high. The old pier remains here also. A pedestrian bridge crosses Richland Creek Also, and then it's only a few more feet to the memorial.

Dutchman's Curve

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