Four O'Clock Factoid is a daily feature on Track Twenty-Nine helping to get you through the workday with a bit of useless knowledge.
The Wreck of the Old 97 was a train crash that occurred September 23, 1903. Southern Railway's Fast Mail was a train bound for Spencer, North Carolina. It was already late when it left Washington, and at Monroe, Virginia the engineer was instructed not to be late arriving in Spencer. The typical average speed taken between Monroe and Spencer was 39 mph, but in order to be on time, the train would have to average at least 51 miles per hour. At Danville, Virginia, the train left the tracks on the trestle over Cherrystone Creek, traveling at over 50 mph. Nine people were killed in the wreck, which inspired a well-known ballad of the same name.