Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Everyone Loves A Good Train Wreck!

By nature, humans are curious creatures. When in groups, our innate curiosity turns us into a herd of "Rubber-neckers". And nothing arouses our sense of curiosity like a disaster or tragedy - fires, traffic accidents, natural disasters, oh and train wrecks!

The term "train wreck" is often used these days to describe a disastrous and complete melt-down that occurs in a department meeting or in the boardroom. Survivors of corporate train wrecks tend to find the results humorous and even take delight in the victims' fate. It's definitely best to be a casual onlooker rather than be the engineer, conductor, or a passenger on these run-away corporate trains! "Train Wreck" is also currently being bandied about to describe run-away celebrities and sports figures who appear hell-bent on self-destruction and annihilation of their careers. (See - Paris, Lindsey, Britney, et al.)

Yes, everyone loves a good train wreck, but
ohhhh ... how about a "great" train wreck?

The "Great Train Wreck" happened 90 years ago today (July 9th 1918) in Nashville, Tennessee. Shortly after 7:00 in the morning the incoming No.1 train from Memphis and the outbound No.4 from Nashville train, both trains of the Nashville Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad, collided at over 60mph on the outskirts of Nashville killing 101 people on board and injuring 171 others.

Ninety years later the "Great Train Wreck" retains the title of most deadly train wreck in the United States. Around the world there have been many great train disasters over the years, many with more deaths. The two World Wars produced several horrendous train accidents and WWI holds the title for the World's Worst Train Wreck with up to 800 killed in the ensuing fiery wreck. On December 12th 1917 an over-laden French troop train returning through the Alps from Torino Italy lost control descending a steep grade above Modane, France. The run-away troop train, carrying over 1000 soldiers returning home for leave, its brakes overheated and glowing white hot caused fires to break out under the passenger coaches. The train descended the steep mountain with its brakes locked and burning for about 4 miles reaching speeds of 75 mph before the first coach jumped the tracks with the rest of the train cars piling on top. The entire train of wooden coaches burst into flames burning so intensely that only 425 bodies of the 800 or so dead could be identified.

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