Danville, Virginia
The Wreck of the Old 97
The wreck of the fast mail train #97 on November 22,
1903 was made famous by the hit record from the
1920s - "The Wreck of the Old 97."  

My grandparents Mark Daniel "Dan" Jones and his
wife Annie were taking a nap in their house a few
blocks from the wreck. Annie was pregnant with my
mother Marie.  When they heard the train whistle
screaming, Dan told Annie, "Something's wrong!"  He
stepped out of a low window and was crossing
Claiborne Street, when he heard the noise of the
crash and saw the dust cloud.  

The third man to reach the wreck, Dan Jones helped
to rescue any survivors.  He said when they pulled out
some of the dead, the skin rolled off the bones
because of the steam.   

I grew up next door to my grandparents. When my
grandmother died, this picture was in her keepsake
trunk.  In the detail at left, Dan Jones is the young
man sitting left of the sheriff (note the sheriff's badge
and billy stick).

For more information about Dan and Annie Jones and
the rest of my family, see our
Family section.
The poster above shows Engine 1102 that pulled the Old 97 train. The engine was new from the
Baldwin Factory in Philadelphia. This picture shows the engine after it was restored from the
wreck damage and was used until 1930. The poster is printed on high quality photo-type paper;
measures 16 in. x 20 in. See all our posters at
Southside Books.
The picture above was taken after the engine had been set upright so
it could be removed. The railroad gave the scrap wood to neighbors
for firewood.
shortly after the crash. The ladies are in their finest Sunday outfits.