I am making progress. Finally!
The first time I heard the story of the Great Nashville Rail Disaster, my imagination was captured by the tragic tale. Now, four years and hundreds of research hours later, the events surrounding the incident still captivate me and I am compelled to tell the following story.
March 21, 2011
Shortly after 7 am on July 9, 1918, Mary Daugherty Kennedy’s quiet life was shattered when news arrived that two powerful steam locomotives on the Nashville Chattanooga & St Louis Railway line had crashed in a corn field less than five miles from her Nashville home. The head-on collision caused the deadliest rail disaster in U.S. history and claimed the life of Mary’s beloved husband, veteran engineer David Kennedy. A hasty investigation conducted by government and railroad officials soon determined that engineman Kennedy was responsible for the calamity. Despite being “stone deaf,” and disregarding the nervous depression she suffered following the shock of her losing her husband, Mary Kennedy set out to restore his name. She spent the next two years in a legal battle that eventually landed her in front of the Tennessee State Supreme Court.
This tragic tale, set against a backdrop of wartime urgency and human error, unfolds in the midst of the racial and societal divisions of the early twentieth century, when segregation and cultural mores helped decide who would perish and who would survive this cataclysmic event.
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