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The City of Nashville and West Nashville
On July 9, 1918, two passenger trains on the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway collided head-on at Dutchman’s Curve in the small community of West Nashville, Tennessee. The collision remains today the worst train wreck in U.S. history. Immediately following the collision, local residents responded to the disaster with aid, many arriving before ambulances, doctors, and the railroad’s wrecking crew.
The first to arrive worked with their bare hands to remove trapped victims. Housewives provided ice, blankets, and bandages. Farmers and other residents made their trucks and automobiles available for transporting the injured. Bootleggers provided whiskey to relieve the pain and fear of injured and dying victims. Catholic Sisters of the Dominican Order and the children from a nearby orphanage offered respite and sanctuary to the slightly injured. The Nashville Chapter of the Red Cross responded to their first local disaster. As news of the calamity reached downtown Nashville, doctors and nurses rushed to the scene to provide medical assistance. At a time when segregation was an established way of life, aid was equally offered and race lines were ignored.
The actions and diligent efforts by Nashville’s citizens that fateful day mirrors the affection and esteem the local community held for their railroad. More than one hundred railroad workers and passengers died at Dutchman’s Curve. It is not known how many lives were saved by the valiant and heroic efforts of Nashville’s citizens.
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