Remembering The Deadliest Train Crash In U.S. History

How The Red Cross Assisted 100 Years Ago

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It was just after 7 a.m. of July, 9 1918. On the railroad, two passenger trains operated by the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway headed straight toward one another at speeds believed to reach 50 to 60 miles an hour. 

At 7:20 a.m., as both trains navigated a portion of the single tracks called Dutchman's Curve, the locomotives collided head on. The impact derailed both trains and destroyed several wooden cars. 

"One of the first, large disasters that we responded to was the train wreck," said Sarah Basel with the Tennessee Red Cross. 

Founded less than a year before that crash, the Nashville Chapter of the American Red Cross was ready to help. "We responded immediately, which is something we'd do if this were to happen today," she said. "They provided canteen services to those who were responding."

Red Cross volunteers also helped search for victims and worked to contact the family members of victims. Through a span of one hundred years the American Red Cross mission has remained the same. "Prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies," Basel said. 

More than 100 people were killed in the train crash, another 171 were badly injured. "I know the volunteers, even a hundred years ago, would've had training in place for what are we going to do when there's a disaster? What kind of services are we going to provide," explained Basel. 

The Nashville Chapter of the American Red Cross has not seen a disaster on the same scale as the Dutchman's Curve train crash and thankfully so, but if one should occur they're ready. "We're ready to go and we're ready to respond if we to have one," said Basel. 

If you'd like more information on the Tennessee Red Cross or how you can volunteer click here.

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