Worst Rail Disaster in the State of Virginia Wreck of Old 97

In 1902 the the southern railroad was granted a 0000 government grant to haul mail.The idea was to move mail fast,there was a cash penalty of 0.00 for every thirty minutes the train was late. According to the railroad book of rules,fast mail trains had the right of way over all other traffic except,passenger trains.It is said that 97′ had airbrakes,the engine weighed 80 ton and had nearly 10000 HP It was on a hot autumn day,sept.27,1903 there had been some problems when 97’pulled into the station at Monroe,Va. one hour and thirty minutes late.At this point Engineer Steve Broady and two fresh firemen a white man and an African American took charge of the train.Mr.Broady a former engineer for Norfolk and Western a dating bachelor,age 33 from Bluefield,Virginia had just hired on with Southern Railroad. But unbeknownst to him that day everything would go wrong that could possibly go wrong! Not only did he have to make up an hour and a half,but engine 97’had a history of being unpredictable and had even caught fire and burned only months before,when it was put in service.He had 167 miles of some of the roughest rail route in that part of the state.He had only been on this route once before.And he wasnt real familiar with Engine ninety-seven.It is said that 97′ could do speeds in excess of 90 mph.That day they had over 50 catch stations where mail was put off the train and put on without ever stopping.As they approached these stations it was the mail clerks job to pick up
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